3 April 2013

Luke 24:13-35

“Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (v. 35)


This evocative story, recorded only by Luke's Gospel (but see Mark 16:12-13), raises intriguing questions:

  • Where was Emmaus? There are several possibilities. The seven miles (verse 13) is sixty stadia in Greek and roughly eleven kilometres. It was a long walk back to Jerusalem after dark had fallen.
  • Why is the second traveller not named? If one was Cleopas, was the other his wife? John's Gospel records Mary, wife of Clopas, as having been at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). Is this that faithful woman, returning home, despondent?
  • Why did the travellers not recognise Jesus as he joined them? Were they walking east, and, turning back to look at the traveller, blinded by the setting sun? Or was it simply that, not expecting to see the Lord, they just didn't!

The goal of the Methodist/Roman Catholic International Commission is that of 'full communion in faith, mission and sacramental life' - the events of the Emmaus road speak of all three.

Doubt and fear assail us all, if we are honest, as they did the Emmaus pair. It is as they conversed with the stranger that they saw things they had been missing, that they found their hearts burning within them as he talked to them and faith was restored.

Hospitality is the essence of faith - hospitality to each other and to the stranger, hospitality of the table and hospitality of attitude. The welcome extended to this stranger brought its particular reward (cf Genesis 18:1-10). As bread is broken, so are barriers.

Such is the experience of word and of bread that it must be shared, we are compelled to witness to what we have received: they told others what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread: this says it all.

To Ponder

  • How important to you is the breaking of the bread? Reflect on the last time you received Holy Communion.
  • When we are enthusiastic about something, it is easy to share it with others. How enthusiastic are you - really - about your faith?

Bible notes author

Gillian Kingston

Gillian Kingston is a local preacher on the North Tipperary Circuit of the Methodist Church in Ireland and a part-time university chaplain. She is interim Vice-President of the World Methodist Council.