November 24, 2017

The Appearances of the Risen Christ, 6

By Chaplain Mike

We are marking the Great Fifty Days of Easter with a series of devotional thoughts on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Today we look at the second narrative in Luke’s story of Jesus’ resurrection and appearances, from Luke 24:13-35 (Phillips).

Text

24:13-17 – Then on the same day we find two of them going off to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they went they were deep in conversation about everything that had happened. While they were absorbed in their serious talk and discussion, Jesus himself approached and walked along with them, but something prevented them from recognising him. Then he spoke to them, “What is all this discussion that you are having on your walk?”

24:18 – They stopped, their faces drawn with misery, and the one called Cleopas replied, “You must be the only stranger in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard all the things that have happened there recently!”

24:19-21a – “What things?” asked Jesus. “Oh, all about Jesus, from Nazareth. There was a man – a prophet strong in what he did and what he said, in God’s eyes as well as the people’s. Haven’t you heard how our chief priests and rulers handed him over for execution, and had him crucified? But we were hoping he was the one who was to come and set Israel free …

24:21b-24 – “Yes, and as if that were not enough, it’s getting on for three days since all this happened; and some of our womenfolk have disturbed us profoundly. For they went to the tomb at dawn, and then when they couldn’t find his body they said that they had a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of our people went straight off to the tomb and found things just as the women had described them – but they didn’t see him!”

24:25-26 – Then he spoke to them, “Aren’t you failing to understand, and slow to believe in all that the prophets have said? Was it not inevitable that Christ should suffer like that and so find his glory?”

24:27-29 – Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them everything in the scriptures that referred to himself. They were by now approaching the village to which they were going. He gave the impression that he meant to go on further, but they stopped him with the words, “Do stay with us. It is nearly evening and soon the day will be over.”

24:30-32 – So he went indoors to stay with them. Then it happened! While he was sitting at table with them he took the loaf, gave thanks, broke it and passed it to them. Their eyes opened wide and they knew him! But he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts glowing while he was with us on the road, and when he made the scriptures so plain to us?”

24:33-34 And they got to their feet without delay and turned back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven and their friends all together, full of the news – “The Lord is really risen – he has appeared to Simon now!”

24:35 – Then they told the story of their walk, and how they recognised him when he broke the loaf.

Thoughts

Luke’s resurrection narratives move from a sense of uncertainty and puzzlement at the empty tomb (story one—24:1-12) to firm conviction in the very presence of the risen Lord (story three—24:36-49). This second story, which fits in between, describes a transitional experience in their recognition that Christ has risen. On the Emmaus Road, he is present, but a Stranger. He makes himself known, but then vanishes.

But there is more. By telling this story as he does, Luke not only describes a step in the process of developing certainty for the first disciples, but also portrays the way the church today experiences Christ’s presence in our midst.

More on that later, but first let’s see what happened to these two Christ-followers.

  • These disciples that Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus were sad of heart at what had happened to Jesus. His death represented the dashing of all their hopes. See them walking together, shoulders slumped, faces contorted in bewilderment, talking and commiserating with each other, looking sad, wondering what comes next.
  • The Stranger walking with them pointed out that they were also slow of heart—their grief was preventing them from thinking clearly. They had forgotten what the Scriptures said about the Messiah, what Jesus himself had been teaching about his death and resurrection.
  • That was about to change. As their unknown traveling companion conversed with them and opened up the Scriptures, they began to experience burning hearts—hope and strength and comfort started returning. They didn’t quite grasp why at the time, but the reason would soon become clear to them.

As dusk fell and they approached home, they invited the stranger to come in and stay with them. They had supper together, and three remarkable things happened at that table:

  • First, their guest became the host. Instead of taking the guest’s place, he took the bread, said the blessing, and began distributing it to them.
  • Second, they recognized this scene from earlier experience, and suddenly knew that this stranger was Jesus! The One who had fed them was feeding them again!
  • Third, he vanished from their midst. Having revealed himself, Jesus left them, and now the disciples are left to respond to their encounter with Christ.

They did so first of all by reflecting on how rich their experience with the risen Jesus had been—“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” He had awakened their spirits again, through the Word he spoke to them.

Second, they ran to tell others—“Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” At the table, where he served as host, where he fed them, the risen Jesus had revealed himself to them.

As was mentioned previously, in this story, we have not only an account of what happened to two men on Easter Sunday and their encounter with the risen Christ.

We also have a model of how Jesus meets with his people today.

  • First, he meets with us in the Word. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus enables his church to understand the Scriptures and embrace their central message: the person and work of Jesus who brings us salvation.
  • Second, he meets with us at the Table. When the church gathers for Communion and partakes of the bread and wine, Jesus makes himself known to his people.

His presence with us is as mysterious as it was with those Emmaus disciples. And no less real.

Prayer
I thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered me from the dominion of sin and death and brought me into the kingdom of your Son; and I pray that, as by his death he has recalled me to life, so by his love he may raise me to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Prayer for the Week from The Divine Hours)

Comments

  1. â– First, he meets with us in the Word.

    â– Second, he meets with us at the Table.

    I like that, Chaplain Mike. Pretty much sums things up, doesn’t it.

    I love the story of the disciples encountering Jesus on their walk to Emmaus. I tend to love best the parts of the New Testament that read very much in a “story-like” way. And I also love the parables of Jesus.

  2. Mike, good message. I pray we all will be open to encountering Christ in the midst of the mess and busyness, joys and sorrows of our everyday lives. I pray we will be receive his coming – however he comes – with gratitude and joyful amazement and may we also share our resurrection encounters with others.

    I wish we as Emmaus friends in the blog world would be as excited to listen and share comments about our confusion, struggles and joys in encountering Christ as we are our ideas and opinions about who’s in, who’s out, who’s more right, etc.

  3. Clay Knick says:

    Very good reflection. That’ll preach!

    Thanks for using Phillips. He’s kind of gotten lost in the translation explosion. I love him, maybe more than Peterson, who also loves him.

  4. Following the Rabbi directly is the single most life changing anyone can do. When you know Him, you respond to Him, you are changed by Him. Thank God for creation and the Cross.

  5. Hey Chaplain Mike! I like the reflection. He met them with Word and Mystery (Sacrament, Table). If you don’t mind, as a former missionary I would like to point out that He met them out in the world, not hidden in synagogue or Upper Room. He went to find them in order to share of Himself (Word and Mystery). He did not wait around to be found.

    Now He asks us to do the same.

  6. My local parish church gives out at Easter Season to all parisioners what it calls, “The Little White Book: Six-Minute Reflections on the Resurrection Narratives according to Luke.” For April 20 the author is writing about this Emmaus encounter. The author writes about the two disciples inviting Jesus to spend the night with them and says, “They’re in for quite an eye-opener.” Boy, isn’t THAT the truth!

  7. In the same little book I mentioned above, for April 21 the author writes that when Jesus vanished the literal Greek term means “he became invisible.” The writer goes on to say, “He was still present, but they were no longer able to see him visiblypresent.” I like that. A bit later in the writing we read, “Come to the Eucharist. Let God open your eyes to the person who truly hosts this gathering…and listen to him speak…and take the bread and the cup…and you will experience the risen Lord.”

    Great stuff.

  8. One last comment about Luke’s stories of Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection: I did not realize until my local priest mentioned it a couple weeks ago that in Luke’s Gospel, ALL the appearances to the various disciples happen all on Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day) and he also ascends the same day! I actually had to go to the Gospel to make sure he had that correct and he did. How different from John’s Gospel where Jesus appears a week after Easter Sunday when Thomas is there to witness it. And there is the appearance after that on the beach when Jesus cooked up the fish.

  9. Excuse my interjection –

    I’d like to encourage and challenge IM readers [who I understand differ to myself on a number of issues] with a civil discussion on a seemingly difficult and quite controversialy topic – for the sake of edification.

    You can find this going on / beginning here:

    http://narrowseventhirteen.blogspot.com/2010/04/open-forum-open-house.html

    Thank you.