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  • Writer's pictureGWL



Luke 24:13-35

When all is said and done... in the final analysis... there are really only two ways to approach life. With Jesus... and, of course, without Jesus.

Those without Jesus can’t help approaching life with the expectation of death. While those with Jesus, are blessed to approach death with the expectation of life!

Our Gospel lesson today is a wonderful story... one of the most memorable in the New Testament.

Of course, when the story unfolds... it’s still Easter Sunday! That first Easter Sunday... and two of Jesus’ disciples are making their way home from Jerusalem, having visited the city for the Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Now understand: these were not Apostles - I know that gets confusing because we often call ALL of Jesus’ followers disciples - these disciples were like us, followers of Christ, people who’d come to have faith in Jesus, and they believed in and received Him as the Anointed One, the Christ... the one who’d deliver God’s people.

As a little aside... I’m convinced these disciples.. Cleopas and an un-named disciple... were a couple, as in a husband and wife. The man is named, the woman isn’t - which is a powerful clue, as it was taboo for women to speak to men who were not their husbands in public in New Testament times (do you remember the Woman at the Well? Jesus asked her “Where is your husband?” because he wasn’t really supposed to be speaking directly to her). Add to that, the fact, that women were seldom “named” in the Bible... it points to this “unnamed disciple” being a woman. Another clue is when this couple ultimately invited Jesus into their home, it was “their” home.

Picture if you will a dusty road. This couple walking along... forlorn... down in the mouth over all that had taken place. They were trying to make sense of what they’d witnessed, when a “stranger” joins them... and the threesome strike up a conversation. Of course, you and I know, the third person is Jesus. But for whatever reason, they didn’t recognize Jesus.

Jesus asks, "So what are you all talking about? What’s happened?"

And at that Cleopas stopped dead in his tracks. "Where have you been? Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened this past week? Don’t you know what they’ve done to Jesus? We’d hoped that He was the One! The Redeemer!”

You can sense the disappointment in Cleopas’ words, right? “We had hoped...”

Jesus then took the opportunity to explain to this couple, that everything that had taken place was meant to be - it was all about fulfilling the scripture! The Messiah had to suffer... Doesn't it say in Isaiah that the servant of the Lord would suffer? Do the Psalms not testify to the death of the Lord’s Anointed One? Isn't it clear that the Messiah should suffer to enter into glory?

Of course, the couple listened in amazement as Jesus quoted scripture after scripture in an effort to help this couple see that Jesus was the Messiah - and that everything that had happened was fulfillment of prophesy.

But Cleopas and his wife were still in darkness... still blinded by shock and deaf in grief... still unaware that Jesus was in their presence... walking alongside and talking to them. They though he was simply a stranger.

In no time they reached the little town of Emmaus. Jesus was about to walk on, when the couple invited him to stay with them. When they entered the home... this couple’s home - an amazing thing happens (that we usually read over without a second thought). Cleopas surrenders his table to Jesus. It’s Cleopas’ table, and when they sat down to dinner, it’s the stranger, this guest (because they had not yet recognized Jesus), who took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it! And at that moment they recognized him. It was Jesus! There, at their table, alive! And as soon as they recognized him he vanished from their sight.

Cleopas’ and his wife couldn’t believe they’d failed to recognize the “stranger” was Jesus as they were walking together! “Were our hearts not burning within us while he talked with us... and opened the Scripture to us?”

They jumped up... and made their way back to Jerusalem - about 7 miles - and when they found the other disciples - before they could even say a word - they were told that Jesus had indeed risen and appeared to Peter. Then they shared their story of how Jesus had appeared to them on the road to Emmaus.

This story is so relatable for us. It’s very much a mirror image of our own lives! Our own experience with faith and belief and Jesus...

Think about it: We who believe in Jesus often walk down the road of life not even realizing that the risen Christ... that Jesus... is our companion on the journey. We often cry out, “Lord, where are you? Why am I so alone? Don’t you even care that I’m in despair, and grief, and turmoil?”

Then someone or something comes to us and we bear our souls just as Cleopas did. And surprisingly that stranger, that friend, that constant reliable and faithful listener, helps us find comfort.

Then in some brief moment of revelation we realize that Jesus has been with us all along. We see the risen Christ... in the face of a friend... in the simple blessings of life... like our home, or our table, or our daily bread.

I don't know where you all are on your journey today. Maybe for you life is great - you’re walking on “cloud-9" and sun is shining - all is well with your soul.

Or, maybe, you’re in the midst of despair. Maybe you need comforting words of hope... Maybe you need to be awakened (or re-awakened) to the presence of Christ in your life? Let me assure you today... Jesus is here! He is right here. Walking with us as a faithful sojourner. Open your eyes and see the risen Christ in our midst; Open your ears to hear his words of comfort and peace!

And remember: Without Jesus we approach life with the expectation of death. With Jesus, we approach death with the expectation of life! That’s the expectation and reality of being an Easter people. Amen.

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