(This series was originally posted in October 2011 on my personal blogsite. We thought we would share it with you all this resurrection week.)
This week we are taking a walk with two disciples and Jesus. During this walk, we will explore seven lessons from the story of the Road to Emmaus. Our text for the week is from The Message translation of Luke 24:13-32.
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
— Luke 24:13-32 (The Message)
So, Jesus joins them in their walk. He joins their conversation. He joins it with a question that had to have made them think, “where in the world have you been?”
I love the translation in The Message: “They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend.”
Lesson 3: Jesus sometimes shows up unexpectedly
Wow! What a mental image. They stood there looking like they had lost their best friend.
While we don’t know a lot about whom these two are from that statement we can deduce that they had spent some time with Jesus. It’s likely they had spent time in one-on-one conversation with Him. Yet, they didn’t recognize Him.
How could you not recognize your best friend?
They didn’t expect to see Jesus standing there. As far as they know, He’s dead.
They had watched Him die.
Perhaps, they had even watched the stone be rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb.
Dead men don’t start conversations on the Road to Emmaus.
Jesus had shown up unexpectedly.
This reminds me of a time that Jesus talked about showing up unexpectedly.
Remember Matthew 25:31-46?
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
— Matthew 25:34-39 (NIV)
When Jesus unexpectedly shows up, we might not recognize Him. Consequently, we might even ignore Him.
Jesus rarely looks like the conquering hero that we – and our friends on the Emmaus Road – expect. Our image of Jesus the Christ has become convoluted. We no longer see Jesus as the Messiah. Instead, we see Him as a “historical figure”. We see Him as a “good person”. We see Him as “the thing that makes us better than the good we already are”.
We fail to see Jesus as the Servant. We fail to see Jesus as the Healer. We fail to see Jesus as the Dead-Raiser. We fail to see Jesus as the Friend of Sinners. We fail to see Jesus as the Homeless Carpenter. We fail to see Jesus as the One bruised for our transgressions.
Worse, we fail to see Jesus as the orphan. We fail to see Jesus as the widow. We fail to see Jesus as the homeless. We fail to see Jesus as the downcast, or the outcast.
We expect Jesus the conquering hero, and we get Jesus the homeless orphan.
If Jesus showed up, would we recognize Him?