Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus

Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus

Most of us have a yearly event we attend. A family dinner, a reunion, a business conference – a gathering that we look forward to that happens once a year. When we we’ve reached this yearly occasion, we see the same people, do pretty much the same activities. It is all comfortably routine – but we like it that way! There is a comfort to the familiar and that is part of the reason we go back year after year – it is something we can count on. That is what Passover was to the Jews. A yearly get together with people they saw only once a year, getting together to participate in the same activities, the same events, the familiar rituals. A familiar routine week. However, this year Passover took on a whole new flavor. From the day the Jews traveled into the city with the crowds following Jesus and waving palm branches to hearing about his disruption of the temple, the teaching they had never heard before. Passover had never been like this! Then came the terror at the end of the week when Jesus was arrested and crucified. This would certainly be a week no one would ever forget. Two of the people at Passover, a couple from Emmaus – Cleopas and his companion, had become followers of Jesus before this week. They had heard Jesus’ teachings during his ministry and had put their trust in him……. So they were pretty excited when they came to Jerusalem for Passover and saw Jesus there. Like everyone else who followed Jesus, they were expecting great things, a revolution! But the week didn’t turn out quite like they had hoped. Jesus died, was buried and then the body comes up missing. What excitement and what mystery. So this couple heads out on Sunday to return home, to the town of Emmaus about 7 miles from Jerusalem. And as they are walking down the road they were talking about all these strange happenings and discussing where they were going to go from there. After all, they had put all their eggs in the Jesus for King basket and that hadn’t happened. It was pretty disappointing and they just quite weren’t sure what they were going to do now. As they went down the road, they were approached by a stranger who wondered what they were discussing so intently. Cleopas and his companion – which many Biblical scholars believe to be his wife – stopped and just looked at this stranger for a minute and then replied, “Have you been living under a rock? Do you mean you really haven’t heard all the strange things that have happened this week in Jerusalem? Surely you’ve heard the news” “No’ the stranger said, “I’ve been out of town. Tell me what happened.” So Cleopas and his companion proceeded to tell how they had had these great expectations of Jesus. “Jesus” they said, “was a great prophet and proclaimed the word of God. He talked like he was going to be the new King of Israel and how then it had all fallen apart when our religious leaders had him arrested and crucified. “They buried him in a guarded tomb with a big stone rolled in front of it – but someone was able to steal the body anyway. And we just don’t know what to do now. We heard rumors that some of the women who followed him had gone to the tomb and had seen angels who said he was raised from the dead. But we know that isn’t realistic. It is all just so confusing.” Now, let’s think about what is happening here. Cleopas and his companion, were followers of Jesus. They had known Jesus before this crazy Passover week, they had seen Jesus during this week in Jerusalem. Now Jesus walks up to them and begins to talk to them and they don’t recognize who he is. We find that confusing. Certainly we would recognize someone we had seen so much. But then this couple on their way to Emmaus thought Jesus was dead so they didn’t expect to see him so that would excuse them a little wouldn’t it? Where do we expect to see Jesus? Churchy places, maybe? Sunday mornings or maybe at

Bible Study. Certainly not in the nitty gritty of our everyday lives. Not in the routines of going to Walmart and mowing grass and spending lunch with friends. But what we need to understand is that we need to know the presence of Christ with us all the time. If we keep Jesus in our minds all the time, we start to see the work he does in the routines of our life – we begin to see him in people we meet and in the things we do and Jesus becomes a much more real, a more important part of who we are and everything we do. We recognize him as we travel together with him. Then Jesus, whom the couple still hasn’t recognized, fusses at the pair. Calls them ‘foolish’! “You fools” he says. “You are good Jews and as good Jews you had a responsibility to know what the prophets taught. If you would have paid attention to the scriptures like you were suppose to, you would have known that what happened in Jerusalem is what was supposed to happen. Everything that happened was just as the prophets had foretold.” Seems the couple was a little taken aback by the outburst of this stranger. “What are you talking about?” they asked. An so this stranger on the road began to explain to them how the Old Testament told exactly what was going to happen to the Messiah, how the Old Testament, which this couple was suppose to know, explained who the Messiah was going to be. Wouldn’t it have been great to hear this on the road ‘lecture’ straight from the horse’s mouth! Jesus is looking at us and fussing at us as well. Throughout the bible we are instructed to learn scripture. We are told how important it is for us to know what the Bible teaches. We
aren’t going to get it an hour on Sundays – scripture takes time, effort, struggle, work to really learn what God is saying to us. We cannot truly understand who we are as God’s people unless we spend time allowing God to teach us through his word. Jesus is telling the couple – and us – that had they read. studied and learned scripture, then they would have figured out what was going on. Same goes for us – Jesus reminds us that it is only through learning scripture that we can figure out what God wants us to know about living as he desires us to. The good news is that as the couple continues down the road, hearing Jesus teaching just captivates them. They are fascinated about what they are learning. And if we really start to study scripture, we come to find out that it is interesting, informative and truly will help us live the life God has intended for us! The more we learn, the more captivated we become. This couple was so delighted by the discussion on the road they wanted to hear more and so they invited Jesus into their home to have dinner with them. During dinner, Jesus takes a loaf of bread and blesses it and breaks it and gives it to them and they recognized who he was. It was in the breaking of the bread that they realized that they had been with Jesus all along. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are recognizing the fact that the risen Christ is truly spiritually present with us – what a great thing that is! If while we take communion we truly realize that Christ is here with us, what a difference it will make. In that ceremony of breaking bread and drinking the drink, Jesus is there. The reaction of the couple were the words “Surely our hearts were burning inside of us”. These were the words of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination. John’s father was an Anglican priest living with his large family in a parish house. One night the house caught fire and everyone made it out except young John. He made his way to a window where he was rescued. From that point on he felt a closeness with God and became a priest himself. He struggled with the practices of the Anglican church and one evening went to a Moravian worship service, a much more spiritual service than what he was use to in the Anglican church and his reaction was “Surely my heart burned inside me” as he felt the spirit of Christ in that worship. The point of all this is that we can experience that same ‘burning’ in our hearts if we really make Jesus an integral part of our lives. If we make a conscious effort to recognize Jesus’ presence with us in everything we do, if we make the effort to study and learn scripture, if we really believe that Jesus is actually present with us when we share in the Lord’s Supper then truly our hearts will burn within us and we will be on the road to becoming the people that God knows we can be. Amen!