Journey into New Life, part six
Made Known at the Table (Luke 24)
Our Gospel text for this Easter season is Luke 24:13-35, the story of the risen Lord’s encounter with his disciples on the road to Emmaus.
In this passage Luke tells us what it means to walk with the living Lord Jesus Christ. It is more than a story of something that happened back then. It represents what newness of life is all about, how it works, and what it is like to experience the new creation.
We are the disciples on the road, and Jesus comes to walk with us.
• • •
“He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35)
I want to make today’s post personal.
This is the text that settled it for me. Luke’s inspired words convinced me that something more than “remembering” is going on at the Lord’s Table. There is a real presence: the living Lord is really and truly there. He meets us there and feeds us. He reveals himself to us in the Eucharist and welcomes us into communion with him.
Communion is more about Jesus inviting me, greeting me, blessing me, feeding me, and loving me than it is about me “remembering” him.
This is the passage that made me a sacramental Christian.
I don’t know how to talk about this in Aristotelian philosophical formulas. I have no Latin term to define it. I can’t explain the mystery of how the Lord Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, also meets people personally and savingly all over the this world when they come to the communion table. I can’t give you a physical/metaphysical breakdown of the composition of the bread and wine.
But this eyewitness testimony from Emmaus is what first persuaded me that the table set with Eucharistic elements is one of the primary “thin places” in the world where the presence of Christ is manifested. It has to do with new creation breaking into this creation. It has to do with the Spirit making it possible for the Father and the risen Son to come and “make their abode with us” (see Jn 14:23). It is the living presence of Christ among his people. He is made known to us in the breaking of the bread.
I don’t think there is any argument about this, and I’m past arguing about it.
I’m also past regularly participating in Lord’s Day services where the Table is not prominent and featured. I do so once in awhile, and only because I’m invited as a guest speaker or visiting with family or friends in another congregation. Frankly, on those occasions, I’m left somewhat empty. I may appreciate the sermon, find joy in praising God through song, be comforted by the prayers. But I don’t find the same resolution; there’s no punctuation at the end of the service when we come forward as brothers and sisters together to meet Jesus and receive his gracious gifts.
To me, that’s what this Emmaus story would be like if it had ended on the doorstep of Cleopas’s house. The two disciples would have had good fellowship with a friendly stranger. They would have talked to him about their lives and disappointments, and heard a fine Bible study. A good walk, a good time together. Like a lot of services in which I’ve participated.
What if they had let him go on down the road at that point, as it seemed the stranger was wont to do? What would they have missed?