Wednesday

07 April 2010

"Stay with us ... When he was at the table with them he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him; and he vanished from their sight ... Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?" (v.29-30, 32)

Background

Luke loves 'journey' stories. When you're 'on the road' that's a time when moments of God's revelation will occur. The road to Emmaus story is increasingly associated with faith journeying today. It takes up a whole day/life, from morning to night, beginning to end. It involves progressive enlightenment.

It's interesting to consider that the two disciples are probably leaving Jerusalem as much as travelling to Emmaus. They've been part of the wider band of disciples but Jesus' death is the end for them. They walk away from where it's all happened with heavy hearts. They're walking out of faith! It is wonderful, then, that in this story the risen Jesus spends his day of resurrection accompanying two dispirited people.

How come they don't recognise him? Some say because the sun was in their eyes or that Jesus was wrapped up - well, really! But Luke suggests that they're prevented from recognising Jesus until the right point in the story. Perhaps because they have the wrong shaped Messiah in their heads (a conquering warrior rather than a suffering servant) Jesus does not want to confirm? If so, then we can assume that at the point of revelation - at the breaking of bread - they understand who he is, whereas prior to that they are blinded by their wrong notions of his nature? This produces the irony that when he is 'physically' present with them on the road they don't really 'see', and when they do 'see' he disappears from sight! How often that is the way of faith!

Luke also provides us with a lovely image. The day is almost gone and the travellers arrive at Emmaus. Some suggest they're a couple travelling home and have now arrived there. They invite him in to eat, he is their guest. But at the table it is Jesus who plays host and breaks the bread. In more than one sense the guest has become the host. Jesus has to be 'received' for the Easter experience to become 'live'.

Jesus begins as stranger, becomes a companion, then a teacher, then an invited guest becomes host. And finally a recognised, risen Lord.

To Ponder

Leave them alone? Pester them? How do we best relate to people who are 'walking out of faith'?

In terms of deepening discipleship, what does it mean for us today that Jesus as guest becomes Jesus as host?

Bible notes author: Revd Dr Martyn Atkins

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