Emmaus

Just imagine that a very close friend of yours has just died, and that you were at his funeral and you actually saw him laid to rest.......

And now there is a rumour flying around that he is alive and well . You are astounded !

Who is it who is spreading this rumour? Ah yes a small group of women you know, and some of them in the past have made quite a reputation for themselves! Furthermore they say they have been having conversations with angels !!

*Well c’mon” you say to yourself!

Some other friends have been to the grave and they have reported that the body is no longer there, and they now think there may be truth in these rumours! All the red lights are flashing in your mind !

Now be honest . If you were walking down Northumberland Street, in Newcastle with a friend, what would be the topic of your conversation , if all of this were still fresh in your mind?

What would be the tone of conversation ? And what would be your opinion of what really happened?

I would guess that for most of us it would be much the same as the conversation between Cleopas and his friend here in the gospel today, as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a seven mile hike no less.

“They’re making it up!”

“They’re mad!”

“Crazy women!”

I’m sure we too would be very doubtful? shocked? confused? sceptical? To say the least!

In Luke’s gospel, it says that the other 11 disciples thought that this was all an idle tale and they did not believe at first.

So here we find these two other disciples on a journey totally engrossed in their conversation, so much so that they hardly notice the stranger who has joined them.

We know by the way they react to the stranger’s enquiry, “What are you discussing?” how amazed they are that he knows nothing of events which have taken place recently in Jerusalem. They give the impression that the whole city is buzzing with the name of Jesus, who they describe as a prophet, mighty in word and deed.

So they describe to him the manner of his death and they share with him the rumours they have heard about his missing body.

Their words seem tinged with disappointment, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel!” ......their confusion and sadness is fairly obvious.

The stranger replies,”How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe !

Roughly translated into Geordie that means, “Are you thick or what?”

The stranger teaches them about what the Old Testament scriptures say of this Messiah; he lights God’s word up to them. He points to Moses and the prophets; and you can almost sense lights being switched on, one by one, in the darkness of their understanding, as he shows them prophecy after prophecy fulfilled. And their hearts begin to burn within them!

Then they arrive at Emmaus and they persuade the stranger to share a meal with them, and they realise as he breaks bread with them, that it is the Risen Christ who has come along side them.

No longer merely just a prophet mighty in words and deeds! But the Lord!

They are so excited, that after Jesus disappears, they return to Jerusalem, even though night is setting in, even though they have a seven mile journey before them.

(one’s own experience of absolute darkness here)

Their experience must have been so real to them to have made such a journey, but of course their world was not dark anymore!

Now I ask that we imagine a different scene. Imagine the world which actually surrounds each one of us, the street where we live, the house we live in, the shops we usually go to, the news we watch on T.V. this time we see lots of people .

They are all on a journey and some are sad and confused, some angry and hurt, some dejected and disappointed, some bereaved and lost.

Rather like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Where should we be as Christians today?

I think the answer can be found in our story. Jesus walked along side these men who were so confused.

He made the journey with them.

He listened to them.

He lit up the darkness for them with the right word at the right time.

He did not ram the scriptures down their throats, nor did he neglect to reveal God’s word to them, either

He accepted their invitation to a meal. To share in closer fellowship with them.

The words of this well known song sum up perfectly the role we should play as Christians in this world:-

It goes like this:-

Brother , sister let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I may have the grace, to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, we are travellers on the road,

We are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you, in the night-time of your fear

I will hold my hand out to you, speak the words you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven there will be such harmony,

Born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and - his agony Amen