Life is a journey – We are all on a journey – Easter III – by Mother Beth
Reading from the Gospel of Luke 24:13-49
The gospel reading for this Sunday is about two people walking along the road to Emmaus – they have been in Jerusalem and now they are headed home and as they walk along they are in conversation. As they walk and talk, Jesus appears and walks along with them. But they don’t realize that it is Jesus. And as they walk he joins them in conversation.
There are a couple of wonderful things about this. First, it is a lovely image of Jesus walking with us as we journey – whether we recognize him or not – Jesus is with us!
Second, as we journey, what are we talking about? What are the things that consume our conversation? Have we been so impacted by the things that God is doing – by the truth of the resurrection that we cannot help but talk about it??
Third, is our conversation appropriate? Would we be ok talking about these things if we realized that Jesus was with us.
Think about the times that you are watching TV – if someone else walked in the room would you be able to keep watching? If you told that joke in mixed company would it still be appropriate? Are we speaking words that are encouraging and helpful or not?
When Jesus asks the two what they are talking about. They say, “are you the only one who doesn’t know about these things?” Actually he is the only one who does know about these things – He is the only one who can explain these things!! AND He proceeds to do just that.
They are discussing the details of the events that have happened and in doing so they retell the various reports that they have heard – They tell their own perspective saying, he was a prophet – and we had hoped that he was the one –
The tell what the Women say – The grave was empty but they saw angels
Then we hear what the angels say – He is alive
The Disciples say – the grave is empty but they did not see Jesus
So as they journey along together these two followers of Christ have been weighing the testimony and examining the facts and trying to make sense of what has happened. This is a lovely example of what we do in the church – we walk alongside each other and we share our testimonies about what we have seen, or heard or experienced and we try to make sense of it. The good news for these two as they walk along is that they are not alone – Jesus walks with them and we need to remember that too. We are not alone, Jesus walks with us and he wants to explain through scripture and the Holy Spirit how the pieces of this life fit together.
So as they walk along – Jesus says – don’t you understand and explains the scriptures to them. This may remind us of the story we have heard of how he was explaining things in the temple when he was just a boy. Jesus is able to explain how and why it is that the Messiah had to suffer
and die. 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Notice that he is able to explain the whole of scripture and how it relates to what he had to go through. Jesus is not God’s afterthought – his role was planned from the beginning of Israel’s history and the scriptures reveal that role right from the beginning.
All this time the two people have not been able to recognize Jesus. Luke says, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him”. So what was it that kept them from recognizing Him?
What keeps us from recognizing Jesus? We too have heard the story – we have heard all the things about the events in Jerusalem so what keeps us from recognizing the truth of who Jesus is?
Maybe we are disappointed – we were told that things would be different – changed – wonderful after we became a Christian –
but bad things still happen or we didn’t get “blessed” in the way we expected – our family is still struggling – our job is still difficult – we still have days when we want to pull the covers over our head and forget the world around us – Maybe this new life doesn’t look like we expected.
The two on the road – also say we had hoped that he was the one – Rome is still in power and the Romans put Jesus to death – therefore Jesus did not overthrow the government as we had hoped – we are still at the bottom of the rung of the ladder – our social status did not change – our economic status did not change – this is not what we were expecting
Every week we come and have the scriptures opened to us – we gather together – two or three – we journey along – we discuss what we have heard – what we understand – what we do not understand.
We break bread together – the Eucharist – communion – we share coffee time or breakfast or lunch together – what is it that keeps us from seeing Jesus.
Once the two invite Jesus to stay with them and they are having a meal together – we hear that, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him;
So what happened? Is there something about the way in which Jesus prays and handles the bread that is obviously his style? Maybe but, I think there is more happening here. Is it their willingness to sit and visit with the stranger – the act of hospitality? We have heard the scripture in Matthew that says, “as much as you do it to the least of these you do it unto me” – perhaps their openness to listen to a stranger and to invest themselves in that visit.
The importance of breaking bread – what is it about eating together that helps us to know one another better? There is something about taking the time to share a meal with someone that helps you to hear them in a new way. There are fewer distractions – you are attentive to them – your time is invested in being with them. To yes to spending time with someone you are saying “no” to many other things and as such you are giving them value – investing in your relationship with them.
Maybe they finally saw Jesus because they stopped to listen.
Someone has said “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand – we listen to reply” We are so busy thinking about our answers we are not listening in the first place.
Maybe their eyes were finally opened because they stopped and actually listened.
Are we prepared to listen to what God has for us? Are we prepared to lay aside our preconceived ideas about what God should be doing for us so that we can actually see what God is doing in and through us.
We all want to be used in big and miraculous ways – but faithful with little means faithful with much.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10
When the followers finally recognized who Jesus was, he disappeared. And they ran to tell the others what they had just experienced and how they had seen Jesus.
While they are telling their story – Jesus appears. There is something really amazing about this – is our testimony such that it enables people to see Jesus? May it be so.
Because Jesus does not want them to be confused about who He is and whether he is just a ghost – he again offers them the opportunity to see his hands and feet and he eats a piece of fish – a ghost can not do these things. HE is not an apparition or a figment of their imagination – He is really in their presence.
And once again he opens the scriptures and explains how HE is and has been part of God’s plan from the beginning – that all of scripture is fulfilled in him.
Now they are sent out to continue the ministry of the gospel. He says,
“that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. “
As we journey through life, what is our conversation about? Are we careful to speak words of encouragement and hope to those around us? Does our conversation enable others to see Christ or are we so busy with our own thoughts and ideas that we have not yet taken the time to see who Jesus really is? God wants to help us understand his Word and our role in these things. O Lord, open our eyes to see you – help us to be willing to sit and hear from you so that we might go from this place empowered to be your witnesses. Amen.