Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
Yes, we all have done that … walking with a friend, chatting amiably, and nodding in a friendly way to an acquaintance as they join us. Being friendly; being neighbourly.
They stood still, looking sad. 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?”
But how could he not know what has happened? The world has been turned upside down. From jubilation to catastrophe, in just a week. Everyone knows. Everyone we know. Where has he been?
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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
Hopes. Ah, yes, hopes. How we had hoped. All for nothing, now. Shattered. Destroyed. Lost, never to be retrieved. We have no hopes remaining. None.
“Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 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. 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.”
It is evidence-based, you see. The evidence is clear. No body. Gone. Not a sign to be seen. And a message that confirmed what they had clearly seen. Believe the women. They don’t lie. He has gone. It is devastating. There is no hope. Just devastating.
Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
The scriptures. Our scriptures. Stories and songs, oracles and omens, commandments and commissionings … yes, all of that, but nothing about a suffering Messiah … a Messiah entering into glory … no, when the Messiah comes, the world will be transformed, and we will all know it. It will be perfectly evident. But what difference is there now? Noting. Only shattered hopes, broken dreams, frustrated yearnings … just dark, dark gloom. … … What will the scriptures say to us about that?
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
So sitting at table, sharing in bread, mulling over the events, drinking the wine, talking about dashed hopes, seeing where slivers of hope might glimmer before us … at least, we can try this … weary, dejected, uncertain as we are. A moment of recognition? Surely not?? Could it be? I wonder … … …
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
The scriptures … the table … he took and blessed, he broke and shared … he spoke words familiar, his actions so familiar … explanations making sense, opening the scriptures, opening our minds and understanding, opening our eyes … could it be? was it true? is this real? what to think???
That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Such an experience — never to be expected — opening up new possibilities — such an experience!!