Dr. Niveen Sarras
Luke 24:13-35—The Road to Emmaus
April 26, 2020
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Savior.
I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and picture Jesus in your mind. Take a moment to ponder on his image. (Pause). What does Jesus look like? I believe that some of you picture him wearing a knee-length tunic and a chiton. You might imagine him on the cross or imagine his resurrection and ascension. You might imagine him teaching people, performing miracles, or holding a lamb in his arms. We are accustomed to envisaging Jesus doing extraordinary things. I assume that many of you believe that Jesus is in the miracle business. Therefore, we crave for sensational spirituality by asking him to do miracles in our lives.
Christ is always present in our lives, even though we do not see astonishing miracles. He operates in our ordinary life, bigger than a sensational miracle. A good example is the narrative of the road to Emmaus. Let us see how the evangelist Luke describes the presence of Jesus in the ordinary life of the two disciples.
Our Lord Jesus appears in the text as a stranger and companion. He walks with Cleopas and his anonymous companion (who might be his wife) and joins them on the journey to Emmaus. They could not recognize Jesus, maybe because they were sad and grieving his death (v. 17). Cleopas and his anonymous companion were discussing the crucifixion of Jesus and the women’s vision of angels declaring the resurrection of Jesus. They discredited the women’s testimony about Jesus’ resurrection; otherwise, they would not be sad. Discounting the women’s testimony might be the reason behind Jesus approaching and engaging in conversation with them. The two disciples were disbelieving of Jesus’s ignorance of the most current events in Jerusalem. They asked him, “ Who doesn’t know what has been happening in Jerusalem these days?” In our context, it seems that the execution of Jesus was a hot topic all over the news; it was a trending topic on social media! Exactly like coronavirus is a trending topic on the media.
Jesus engages and relates to the two disciples’ ordinary life and everyday concerns. He does not distance himself from their grief and sorrow but offers them a company on their journey. Our Lord Jesus takes a further step to comfort Cleopas and his anonymous companion. He used the Torah and the prophets to explain to them the necessity for the Messiah to suffer, die, and be resurrected (vv. 26-27). Jesus met the two disciples where they were at and gently, and without argument, he explains Scripture to them.
Our Lord Jesus also humbly accepts Cleopas and his anonymous companion’s hospitality. He meets the two disciples at the ordinary meal table. He does not meet them at a fancy banquet or an extraordinary event. Our Lord Jesus meets the two disciples and us as we gather around our daily food. “Once he is at the table, Jesus’ role shifts. He is no longer the honored guest but the host of the meal, and it is in this role that he distributes the bread.” Breaking of the bread is reminiscent of Jesus' similar actions in the account of feeding the multitudes in Luke 9:16, which helped the two disciples to recognize him.
Cleopas and his anonymous companion represent all of us. We are busy with our daily life and our problems to an extent we do not see Jesus’ presence in our ordinary life. When we live our ordinary life ignoring his presence, we become like that two disciples who discounted the women’s testimony. This kind of life becomes a testimony that our Lord Jesus is still among the dead.
God meets you in your ordinary life and your daily routine; we just do not tend to look there. We tend to look for miracles and sensational spirituality. An Anglican preacher Steve Griffiths rightly explains this point:
We have ordinary responsibilities, ordinary tasks to complete - and we need to live in the ordinariness of life. And if that is where we need to live, then we need to learn to find God there. But how do we do that? How do we find God in the ordinary? We need to understand that, by nature, God is with us in our everyday lives… Our God is not a remote God, who leaves us to struggle through the pains of our lives. Instead, God comes off the mountain and into the valley of our lives and gets his hands dirty to bring us healing and wholeness of life.
Dear church, I hope the next time you close your eyes and picture Jesus in your mind, that you imagine him washing dishes with you, working on the computer with you, dining with you. I hope you see him, feeding the hungry, speaking up against injustices, comforting the afflicted, and those who mourn. I hope you also imagine him working with the healthcare workers who are at the frontlines battling the coronavirus disease.