|Create Date||April 25, 2020|
|Last Updated||May 2, 2020|
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Easter, The Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-35
By now most of you probably know that pastors rarely give a straight answer to your questions or tell you what you should do. Very often we don’t give straight answers in our preaching, teaching, or spiritual direction. If you read the articles on the GCI website, you won’t find the authors giving simple straightforward solutions to burning questions. And the reason we don’t do that is because we don’t see the gospel doing that.
Rarely does the gospel tell us what to do or believe. Rarely does it give us a straight answer. And today’s gospel (Luke 24:13-35), the road to Emmaus story, is no different. It doesn’t give us answers. It raises questions and it asks us to think deeply. The story is a map by which we orient and find ourselves. It reveals how our lives and Jesus’ life intersect. It begs to be recognized as an illustration of our lives, and it is a story with which we are familiar. It is a story of breaking and restoration.
If your life has ever been shattered or under pressure then this is your story.
If your life has ever been restored then this is your story.
And if you are in the in between place, between challenges and restoration, then this is your story.
Within this story is a pattern or template that describes many of our journeys as a Christian. The route is from Jerusalem to Emmaus and then back to Jerusalem. So often when we think about this story, we only think of the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, we don’t really reflect on the journey back to Jerusalem.
No one quite knows why the disciples chose to go to Emmaus. Maybe it was home, maybe it was somewhere that they considered safe. But it was well away from Jerusalem
It’s a journey Cleopas and his companion take and it’s a journey each of us has taken,
or will take.
It’s not, however, a one time journey. It’s a journey we take over and over again.
I am not talking about Jerusalem and Emmaus as particular geographical locations. I am talking about them as types of what we go through. They are illustrations that help us understand ourselves better and open up ways for us to see God. Jerusalem to Emmaus and back are often experienced as we try to make sense of the things that happen in our world.
So lets talk about Jerusalem
Jerusalem : what does that represent.,
Have you ever felt like you just had to get away?
Or felt like life had given you more than you could handle?
Have you ever run away from a problem or situation?
Have you ever been deeply disappointed?
Have you lived with unmet expectations?
When have you felt lost, as if your world had been turned upside down?
Have you ever wrestled with those big questions: “Who am I now? What’s next? Where do I go? What do I do?”
Can you remember a time when you did everything right and life still didn’t work out the way you planned or wanted?
I do. When Chris and I were still in the early stages of our marriage, we were desperate to buy a house and we scrimped and saved, we had failure after failure but finally after several years we bought a plot and began building our little house.
We had worked out our budget to the last cent and we started build the simplest house we could, 3 small bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen/ dining room and lounge.
No flooring, no cupboards.
When we signed the deal the bond rate was 12,5%, which means we had a wee bit over every month to finish the house. By the time we moved in 6 months later, the bond rate had gone to 25% and we could barely meet the payments. My dreams of finishing this house were shattered. And I remember being so angry with God that all I wanted to do was go away somewhere and fight it out with him because it wasn’t fair.
Have you ever grieved the death of a loved one, a dream, an identity, a future?
Has your life ever been tough? .
If so, then you know what it’s like to be Cleopas and his companion.
It’s Easter morning and the two disciples are leaving Jerusalem. Who can blame them? Jerusalem is a place of pain, sorrow, and loss. It’s a place of death, unmet expectations, and disappointment. It’s a place where their lives were crushed and broken into tiny pieces. No one wanted to stay in that place. I wouldn’t hav, would you?
As they walk they are talking about all the things that happened, and, I suspect, all the things that didn’t happen. They probably both agree that the last place they want to be in right now is Jerusalem, sound familiar?
They are talking about Jesus’ arrest, torture, crucifixion, and death.
They are taking about hope that didn’t materialize,
expectations that were unmet,
investments that paid no return.
They are disappointed and sad. They had hoped Jesus was the one, but he’s dead. And there’s a part of them that’s been lost, a part of them that died with Jesus. They had heard rumours that he was alive but it all sounded like a stupid rumour , fake news, a scam.” (Luke 24:11). There was nothing to keep them in Jerusalem. Their lives were broken.
I don’t know why they chose to go to Emmaus, but I’ve known times when I just wanted to get away, when any place was better than where I was. Any place would be better than Jerusalem.
And when we experience Jerusalem so we try to hightail it to Emmaus
Emmaus is our escape from life. Or so we think. What we don’t know at the time, and what Cleopas and his companion did not know, is that it was also the way back for them and for us.
That realization of hope and healing happened for the two disciples, as it does for us, when Jesus was revealed. And when did that happen? Through the breaking of the bread.
Now sometimes when we feel that we want to run away, we can feel like a coward or a failure. We feel that we couldn’t handle the pressure. But lets think of our two disciples
I don’t believe that it was just an escape from life that took them to Emmaus, but there was also a hunger for life. They wanted something better.
It wasn’t just brokenness that took them to Emmaus but a hunger for wholeness. They wanted to heal
It wasn’t just a shattering that took them to Emmaus, but a hunger for restoration.
And it’s the same for us. When we are hurting, we hunger for God’s healing and restoration. We don’t want to stay shattered and broken.
Hunger is more than physical, it also spiritual and emotional. We are by nature hungry people.
We hunger for life, love, wholeness, community, meaning, purpose and connection. As they walked to Emmaus the stranger began to tell them the entire story, to put the tragedy in perspective, to illustrate that however painful the experience was that God was and always has been in control. The stranger,
Jesus would not only stay, he would feed them. The guest they invited to their table would become their host.
30 “When he [Jesus] 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 recognized him.”
They recognized him as the one they had left for dead in Jerusalem. They recognized him as the one who had accompanied them on the road to Emmaus. They recognized him as the one they had hoped he would be.
Jesus wasn’t just giving them bread, he was giving them back themselves.
This was their restoration.
When Jesus broke the bread something in them broke open.
With that breaking open their lives were being put back together.
So it is for us as well.
I’m going to finish my story
During that time, I made up my mind to go away for the weekend on my own and try and fight this out with God and to make him see my point of view. And I did. I ran to my Emmaus (which was a house in the Berg) and just talked to him and yelled at him and cried the whole weekend. Well during that weekend, I saw Jesus in a different way. Instead of berating me for trying to get my own way, he reassured me that Chris and I and the children would be Ok and that he was in charge. And then I had to go home. I had to go back the bond rate and back to the pressure and the recession. I had to go back to Jerusalem V 32 Just like Cleopas
The situation hadn’t changed bu.t my perspective on it had
We’ve all had times when our lives were suddenly broken open and the light floods in ways we could never imagine or have done for ourselves. Times when we see hope in the midst of darkness or meaning in sorrow. Or maybe we get the chance to use a bad experience that we had to help someone else.
Despite how it feels, our brokenness is not an ending.
There is more to it than we often see or know. It is not just brokenness, it is not just problems, it is, in time a chance to breaking open to new life, to new seeing, to new recognition, to community, welcome, hospitality, and love.
When Jesus broke the bread at Emmaus, he fed them not just with bread but with himself: with his body, his life, his love, his compassion, his strength, his forgiveness, his hope, with all that he is and all that he has.
Their life was being restored in their being broken open. But as soon as they saw and recognized Jesus “he vanished from their sight.”
Where do you think he went? Was he abandoning them? Was he playing games with them, “Now you see me, now you don’t?” Was he undoing everything that just happened? No. It wasn’t anything like that.
He was no longer before them because he was now within them. If he had stayed physically, they would never have understood that he was in them. Jesus was the burning heart within them, and it had been there all along. And he’s the burning heart in us too. Sometimes we forget that he is in us.
Circumstances gang up on us, and we conclude that He isn’t there. But he is there. Like the disciples, we just don’t see it, because what we think should happen doesn’t and we use that as evidence to make a case against Jesus. But just because we don’t believe it, doesn’t mean its not true.
.Let’s goto 33
- And “that same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem.” They were given the strength to go back to their Jerusalem and so will we.
They returned to the place from which they had to get away. Jerusalem is not only the place of death it is also the place of life. It is not only a place of sorrow; it is a place of joy. It is not only a place of shattering, it is a place of restoration.
Lets head back to the story
Cleopas and his companion arrive with news of their Emmaus experience only to hear that Jesus was alive, seen, and present in Jerusalem. We leave Jerusalem in order to return to Jerusalem: to face our deaths, losses, and our unpredictable lives.
In so doing we discover that life awaits us. We return to reclaim ourselves, to recover the lost pieces of ourselves. Jerusalem hasn’t changed but we have.
Shattered lives, restored lives. Jerusalem, Emmaus and back to Jerusalem. That seems to be the pattern.
It’s never, however, as simple or easy as it sounds. It’s one thing to name the pattern but another to live it. It takes time and effort. It’s not easy and it’s painful. And I don’t wish to minimise anything that anyone is going through. But we can trust that Jesus has the capacity to put the shards of our lives back together to form pieces for a new life, a new seeing, a new way of living.
So as we said at the beginning, the gospel doesn’t always offer straight answers, but it does offer us Jesus living within us and a road back from Emmaus to hope.
Lets go back and take a look at the story again and read
The disciples reach Emmaus and ask the stranger to stay for supper
Luke 24:30-31 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Now this wasn’t communion in the way in which we take it in Church with bread and wine. It was rather a meal, and as Christ broke the bread, they saw him.
Like wise every time we break the break and wine, we are reminded that Chris is in us. And that with that knowledge, he can take us from Emmaus back to Jerusalem.
I’m going to bless the elements and then let you take them