13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19 He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 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.
Reflection on The Road to Emmaus by Revd Sara Humphries
We’re all familiar with the story of the road to Emmaus. It’s a well-known and well-loved drama that contains a whole raft of human emotions from sorrow, suspense, and puzzlement through to eventual recognition and a final flurry of excitement and activity. It almost sounds like the script of a soap opera!
However, as Christians we recognise in this story much more than just it’s melodramatic elements, it is and always has been a wonderful metaphor for our own journeys as followers of Christ.
Just like us, Cleopas and his companion didn’t recognise who Jesus was until he broke the bread, and it was then that they realised he was the fulfilment of the Old Testament law and prophesies. But there’s more, I believe Jesus took the time to deal with their hopelessness so that we’d know how to deal with ours. All of us have faced times in life when we’ve become discouraged, downhearted and filled with hopelessness. Times such we’re going though at the moment.
What did Jesus do for them; he opened the Bible. Too often Christians forget that the Bible is the tool God gave us to give us encouragement. I don’t know if you are feeling the same emotions as I am, but I am finding that studying the Bible during this global pandemic has added a new dimension, especially to the accounts in the New Testament. Like Cleopas and his companion, we can have our eyes opened and hearts set on fire by recognising the real Jesus in Scripture. At the start of this story our two travellers talk about what they had expected and hoped for, however through Jesus’ teaching, as they walked along that dry and dusty road, they realised that something had happened, it may not be quite what they’d expected, but the result was and is everything has changed.
For us too things are different, we can’t attend church services and celebrate the Eucharist together. Weddings and baptisms are on hold for the foreseeable future, and funerals can only be carried out at the graveside or crematorium, and only attended by immediate family. I pray about this often, and reflect upon what and where God may be calling us as we try to find new ways of being church.
But just remember, there is power in the pages of your Bible. If you’re not reading it, you’re robbing yourself of the potential God wants to give you. It is in that book that we find power to overcome a difficult and challenging world. And the Bible has that kind of power. Its words can turn our hearts toward God, and when our hearts turn toward God we learn to trust … and then we have hope.
We all recognise God at work in creation, especially in this Easter season and with the lovely Spring weather we’re enjoying. And it’s easy to find the love and light of Christ reflected back into the world through the selfless acts of kindness within our communities and the dedicated work of our healthcare professionals, supermarket staff, farmers, delivery drivers, refuse collectors, postal workers, scientists, manufacturers of PPE, politicians and everyone else working to keep us safe and fed throughout this crisis.
God is with us and knows what’s in our hearts, so continue to pray for each other and please stay safe.
Until we meet again, may the Lord bless you and keep you safe.
Revd Sara Humphries.