Thursday, April 21
Reader: “Some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this
Response: “they said his body was missing.”
Scripture: Luke 24:13-32
The Walk to Emmaus (Late Sunday afternoon of Resurrection Day)
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”“What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
We continue on with the events of that first Easter Sunday afternoon. We may be inclined to think of Jesus’ disciples as his primary followers; such was not the case. Those dozen men traveled and lived with him, but there were hundreds of additional men and women who were also disciples. Such were the two conversing on their way back home to Emmaus. Put yourself as the third person walking along with them when suddenly someone who has been following in the distance catches up with the three of you. He notices how animated your conversation has been and naturally asks what you have been talking about so intently. So we stopped walking. (In Luke’s usual attention to details, he tells us of the sad countenance of the two travelers. He also tells us that “[we] were kept from recognizing him” by God.)
We tell him what we’ve been talking about and he plays dumb. (Notice how Jesus enters the conversation by asking questions.) One of the things that really puzzled us, since we thought Jesus was the Messiah, was his suffering and death. We did not expect that to happen. Having heard us express our understanding of what happened and our puzzlement, Jesus now talks with us.
He chided us for not believing what our prophets told us in the First Testament then asked a rhetorical question. What followed was a Bible study I would love to have heard; Jesus teaching the Old Testament! I have a feeling there is so much more in those books then even the most brilliant biblical scholar alive today has never discovered.
Then we come to the last section. Now our little quartet of people is coming into town, (I’m personally wishing we had more miles to travel since hearing him explain the Scriptures was so enlightening), so we invited him to stay overnight since it is approaching sundown. He agreed and then something miraculous happened! We sat down to eat. He took the bread, broke it and gave it to us. Instantly God opened our eyes and we recognized who he was! The living Messiah, the crucified Jesus of Nazareth! Then, just as quick, he vanished instantly. The space where he was was nothing but air!
And what is the point of this kind of retelling of what you’ve just read in the Scriptures?
I want us to enter into the events of the Bible and not read it “from afar” because it is a living story. The One on the road to Emmaus still teaches the Scriptures via his Holy Spirit. You are reading history, but this history is alive. It is not a story book. I quote Jesus’ own words, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.” You see, much of the prophecy of the Bible is yet to be fulfilled. We live in the middle of the pages. Let the Spirit teach us as we read and study his Word. The Scriptures point to Jesus, the source of our life. (Jn. 5:39-40) May you encounter the living Jesus today.
Music: “The Angel Rolled the Stone Away” arr. Jester Hairston
This video is from the 1980’s prior to the building of the glass Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, which happened a few years later. Jester Hairston arranged this setting and is the conductor.
Prayer:Almighty Father, it is through your mercy we can come with joy to greet the risen Christ and not through any merit in ourselves. We know that we are guilty of the very sins that drove him to the cross―disloyalty and cowardice . . . jealousy and twisted thinking . . . wrong values and shortsighted vision . . .. Father, in the love that radiates from Jesus’ empty cross and tomb, forgive: then raise us up on to the level of a new and finer life in Christ. Let the joy of Christ-alive reach deep down into us, the recollection of Christ-crucified dictate our values and our thinking and our speaking―till our actions and our attitudes are purified and Christ is reflected in us. This we pray through Jesus Christ, our risen and returning Lord. Amen. ―from Prayers for Sunday Services, p.96