This is my most favourite passage in the Bible – I just love it:
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”…
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”… – Luke 24:13-32
I have added emphasis to a few phrases above which I would like to reflect on today.
Firstly, I love the way the disciples are just walking along, contemplating and talking about the momentous events of the last three days, when Jesus casually sidles up beside them in their reverie. And “…their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” They were so wrapped up in the sadness of the death of their Saviour, that even when the very Man Himself was there, their only reaction to Him was that “…they stood still, looking sad.” They are in shock and mourning. They cannot believe that this man, the “…only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days” seems to be clueless about Jesus Christ!
But I feel that Jesus, knowing full well what they are talking about, plays along and seems to be putting them to the test, with a wonderful sense of humour, when He says “What things?”
Question: are we blind to Christ at times in our life journey? When we don’t feel Him walking beside us, are we so absorbed in our troubles and sadness that we treat Him like a stranger or completely ignore Him?
After having been told the story of His own Passion and death, the next words Jesus utters seem like a slap in the face: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe…” At this point I wonder if the two on the road stopped and looked at Him aghast. When will the penny drop for them? I love how Jesus does not mess around. He gets to the point. Notice also how Christ speaks about Himself in the third-person – He never reveals Himself but continues to act as the stranger. He wants us to seek Him, and find Him.
Question: we often talk a lot, overanalyse, and gossip, but do we believe in the truth of Christ? Are we foolish, slow of heart, and too sophisticated for our own good in our modern times? Do we get too caught up in the details of things and not pay attention to things that really matter? Do we honestly believe in the wisdom of those who have gone before us – the prophets, the saints, and the holy people in our lives?
So now it is getting dark on the road, and Jesus, still playing the stranger, continues to act as if He is going further. He accepts the exhortations of His companions to stay with them. This is a wise move for them. Something extraordinary to their eyes is about to take place. He shares a meal with them and – my favourite part of all – “…their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.” They then realise what has happened to them and marvel: “Did not our hearts burn within us…” Such happiness must have overcome them, like the warmth of the sun on a cold day! I know that I would have been doing cartwheels of joy, but tinged with regret that I did not recognise Him earlier.
He vanishes from them.
He does not parade Himself. He silently leaves them with a taste for more. Burning with love.
Question: is my heart burning within for Christ? When I saw the little candles gradually light up the congregation at church at the Easter Vigil, did I take that flame with me or snuff it out? Am I still holding that little candle in my soul? Is the fire alive? What am I going to do with it?
What are you going to do with it?
We have Emmaus hearts.
Are we walking with You?
And do not know it?
When you seem to vanish from our sight, and our lives.
Give us strength to carry the flame from our Easter Vigil candles, forward.
Open our eyes to recognize You in everyone we meet.
Now and forever.