Apr. 15, 2012
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
It had been a long walk. Darkness is upon the two men and the stranger. They come to a fork in the road. One path takes people into the town of Emmaus; the other path remains on the main trail. Of course, the two men want to return to their hometown. The stranger, aka Jesus, appears to keep going on the main path. Maybe he says, “See you all later. God bless you.” But the sun is setting. It’s getting dark and it’s dangerous for folks to walk at night by themselves. Cleopas and friend beg the stranger, “You don’t have anything to eat or drink. Stay with us.”
Did Jesus have some other place to go? Of course not. He was testing the disciples to see if they would practice what he had taught them: to love God and love your neighbor. He is giving them a pop quiz.
One time, Jesus shared a story about a man traveling to Jericho. He got jumped by robbers, beaten and left for dead. Two Jewish men go by but don’t stop. It’s a Samaritan that stops, cares for the man, gets him to safe lodging and promises to provide for his medical treatment as long as necessary.
Jesus told his followers this is how we are to love. We love our neighbors when we give them food when they are hungry, something to drink when they are thirsty, provide clothing when they don’t have enough and when we welcome a stranger into your home. When you do these things, Jesus said, it’s as if you were doing it to Jesus himself.
At the fork in the road, before Cleopas and his friend is a stranger with nothing to eat or drink. When they urged Jesus to stay with them, they passed the test. Imagine if they had let the stranger go on. They would not have seen the risen Christ.
Have there been times when we’ve had an opportunity to pass a pop quiz and failed? When did we have an opportunity to feed, shelter, visit someone or invite a stranger into our home and we chose not to? When we fail to do this, we failed to see Jesus.
If you desire to feel fully alive, help someone. This is a secret to mental health. Feeling fully alive doesn’t happen with wealth or more possessions. Feeling fully alive happens when you give of yourself.
Sometimes, people say, “I can’t help anyone else right now. I’m dealing with my own pain.” Read to this quote by Calvin Miller: “You are most mature when you minister to others in their pain, without reminding them that you yourself have problems. To minister to others even when you need ministry is to liberate your soul from small addictions to yourself.”
There is a huge difference between Jesus and us. Jesus was not addicted to himself. We are addicted to ourselves. We are most like Jesus when we are not serving ourselves, but serving others. We are most like Jesus when we serve others in the midst of our own suffering.
There are many folks in our roads. Will we pass the test?
Let us pray: Then we near our destination. Then we ask the stranger in, and he yields unto our urging; Jesus stays with us, unknown. Amen.