Text: Luke 24:13-35
The problem we have with the resurrection is the mirror-image of that experienced by the first disciples. It was a problem to them because it was all so new. It can be a problem to us because it is all so familiar.
Let’s try to see it from their point of view. Let’s imagine it is you and I trudging down that road that leads from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
As we walk, we reflect on the tragic events of the past few days. We had been followers of the Master. We had listened to his wonderful teaching. We had seen his amazing miracles. We had realised that here was someone really special. We had hoped that he would be the one who would set our country free. Was it just a week ago that he had ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem, and we had all shouted, ‘Hosanna! Save us Lord!’ and we had hailed him as a king?
But then it had all gone terribly wrong. The Master had allowed himself be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. They put him through a mock trial, and convicted him on trumped-up charges. Three days ago they executed him. His body had been laid in a tomb. But now even the body has disappeared. And as we walk and talk, we can feel our spirits sinking lower and lower just like the setting sun in front of us.
Suddenly, we hear footsteps behind. “What were you just talking about?”
“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? We’ve been talking about everything that’s been happening back in Jerusalem.”
“Crumbs! Where have you been for the past week! It’s all about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a wonderful teacher and he could do great miracles. He was a man of the people and a man of God. We had hoped that he would be the one who would deliver our nation from the Romans. But our own rulers were jealous of him and they handed him over to be executed. That was three days ago. Now he’s well and truly dead. And now, to cap it all, some women say that his body has gone missing and that they’ve seen some angels and the angels say that he’s not dead after all. Our friends went along and found that the tomb was empty. But they didn’t see him, either dead or alive. It’s all so confusing.”
The stranger speaks up. “You are so dim! All of this was foretold by the prophets in Scripture!” And he begins to show us in the Scriptures – the Scriptures we thought we knew so well – how the Messiah – the Christ – was first to suffer and die, and then be raised to life and glorified.
(Isa 53:10-12) Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. (11) After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
A strange, warm feeling comes over us as we begin to realise that what has just happened in Jerusalem might indeed all be in God’s plan. But who is this stranger who can open up the Scriptures so wonderfully?
In what seems like no time at all, we reach our home in Emmaus. The stranger makes as if to continue his journey. But we can’t bear to let him go. So we persuade him to come in for a meal. There we are, the three of us, around the table. And then the stranger does an odd thing. As if it were his home and we were his guests, he takes the loaf of bread, gives thanks to God for the meal, breaks the loaf, and starts to give us each a piece. And in that moment, we realise we’ve seen someone begin a meal just like that dozens of times before. We look at his hands – can it be? We look at his face – it is! As if someone had come along and just opened our eyes, we see who it is – Jesus himself! And he vanishes.
You and I hardly know what to say to each other. Finally, I say to you, “You know, I had a strange warm feeling inside me while he explained the Scriptures to us as we walked home.” And you reply, “Yes, I felt exactly the same.”
No thoughts about eating now. We get up from the table, leave the house, and rush back to Jerusalem. We find the disciples but before we can say anything to them, some of them shout out to us, “It’s true. The Lord has risen from the dead. Simon Peter has seen him!” And we reply, “Yes, we know it’s true. He has just met us as we were walking home to Emmaus. We didn’t recognise him at first, but as we were beginning a meal together it was as though someone had opened our eyes, and we could see that it was him.”
You know, as long as we live, we’ll never forget what happened that Sunday evening. It made us realise that it’s possible to know all the facts about Jesus and still to be blind to the Saviour himself. It made us see that his death and resurrection were all in God’s wonderful plan and were foretold in the OT Scriptures. So, when we read those Scriptures now, we always look to see what they teach us about Christ, and we find that he shines out of every page. But, best of all, it has convinced us that whether I can see him or not, Jesus is alive and is amongst us, whether we are worshiping in church, walking down the road, or having a meal together. And that means for everyone who opens their hearts to him, that sadness is turned to joy, doubt is turned to faith, darkness is turned to light.
“He arose, he arose, Hallelujah, Christ arose!”