Apr. 12, 2012
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
It’s Sunday, the first Easter and Luke’s gospel gives us another witness account of the risen Savior. Called “The Walk to Emmaus,” this story is about two men who were followers. Cleopas and an unnamed man were close to Jesus for their grief is great.
Maybe Cleopas and his friend went to Jerusalem during the Passover, expecting great things. Maybe they were part of the crowd that welcomed him on Palm Sunday. What they never expected is that a short week later, their friend was dead.
Earlier in Luke’s gospel, Jesus sent out 72 followers to share the news of him in various villages. Possibly, these two men were part of the 72. They know the 12 disciples. Maybe they had spent Friday, Saturday and even Sunday with 11. They knew the women found the tomb empty early Sunday morning. But they don’t believe the women. Feeling lost, sad and unsure what to do next, they return to their hometown.
Emmaus isn’t far from Jerusalem; just seven miles. Imagine a location about seven miles from your home and walking it with a friend. With two long hours to talk, their conversation continued around the mysterious events of the last few days. Let’s imagine their conversation:
Cleopas: “How could God let this happen? Why didn’t God stop this?
His friend: “God can’t be all powerful.”
Cleopas: “It just doesn’t make sense. Why did we give up a couple years to follow Jesus if he really wasn’t the Messiah?”
His friend: “Makes you feel kind of stupid, doesn’t it?”
Pretty soon, there is a stranger walking with them. But they did not recognize him. For several miles, Jesus walks and talks with these two followers but they never figure out who he is.
Early Easter morning, Mary Magdalene sees Jesus but doesn’t recognize him. John’s gospel tells us she thought he was a gardener. Here, the two men think he is a stranger. This story makes me wonder how often Jesus put someone in my life to minister to me, to give me advice, to assist me … and I never recognized them as being placed by Jesus. Sometimes we see only what we want to see and we miss something important. Jesus often shows up completely different from what we expect, well disguised.
Jesus comes to us in many different ways, in various people, dressed nothing like we might expect. We get caught up in ourselves and our situations that we often fail to see the spirit of Jesus right in front of us.
It’s easy to be critical of these two men for not recognizing Jesus. Funny thing is; I’m not sure I would have recognized him either.
Let us pray: On the day of resurrection to Emmaus we return; while confused, amazed and frightened, Jesus comes to us unknown. Amen.