Post-Easter Reflection: The Emmaus Walk

By V.K., Guest Writer

The Road to Emmaus


We may have expected it, but the traffic coming into Sydney was delayed by hours yesterday.

People were returning home after taking a break over the long Easter weekend.

Coincidentally, this year, 2014, has been the conjunction of 3 major religious events:  Passover for the Jews, Easter for Christians, and even the Orthodox Church people who normally are behind other Christians by a few days, have celebrated Easter the same weekend.  A lot of celebrating has been going on in the last seven days.  It’s been a very special time for a lot of people.

In Bible times, there was just the Passover as a "major" local event. Crowds flooded in for that. In our story we see a couple of people returning home after the chaos and energy of Jerusalem.


Two thousand years on, we Christians see Easter as paramount and Passover as secondary. But if we are going to sit in the world of the first Christians, in Jerusalem, we would have to see that around us Passover has been the usual grand affair and Jesus’ death and crucifixion an “extra”, unexpected and very curious happening.  Rumours were circulating, and perplexing variations of the strange empty tomb were being passed around.

Maybe this year the alignment of the two in the same week is going to help us understand the Emmaus Road story a little better.  And perhaps we might see in Cleopas and his companion the same faults as we notice in ourselves:  We know so much that we can’t or won’t live out day by day.  They knew the prophets.  Good Jews did.  And they had heard the teachings of this Man Jesus about his destiny to die and then come back.  Slow to understand, like lots of us today…

The Emmaus Walk


As they walk a stranger joins them and asks them to tell him what they are talking about.  They had been engrossed in discussing what had happened in Jerusalem a few days after Passover. Their summary is quite succinct and at the end is the account of “some of the women.”  The women said an angel told them that Jesus was not dead, but alive.

Jesus starts at the beginning – with Moses.  He gives a complete explanation of each of the prophets’ words.  When they reach Emmaus, the two companions urge this stranger to stay with them.  Hospitality of the East was natural and unforced.  It isn’t until they are all eating and Jesus takes bread, blesses it and gives it to them that their eyes are opened.  Suddenly Jesus is gone!

Burning hearts is how they describe having Jesus teach them.

For both men, an enlivened heart translates into moving feet and they get up and go back to Jerusalem to tell the Eleven (Judas has taken himself out of the group).  If  “thrilling” encounters with Jesus come to us, acting on that burning of the heart is a good thing to do.  Meanwhile, I pray that I will be diligent to understand what He has already told me.  It’s up to me.  I want to pass over from a mediocre Christian to an effective witness of all that Jesus has taught me.


Biblical Reference of the Emmaus Walk:   Luke 24: 13-24 


In this passage, a follower of Jesus named Cleopas, also identified as Simon, and another traveler leave Jerusalem for the town of Emmaus on the day of Jesus' resurrection. On this particular journey the two travelers encounter a man who asks about the happenings over the past few days concerning Jesus or Nazareth.  The two describe the week's event. They related about the trial of Jesus, his crucifixion, and burial. They also said that some of the women who followed Jesus discovered the tomb in which Jesus was buried to be empty. The stranger then proceeds to explain the writings of the prophet Moses concerning God's Messiah or Christ.

Then the three reach Emmaus, they share a meal. During the blessings of the meal, it is revealed to Cleopas and his companion that the unnamed man who accompanied them is none other than Jesus. In that moment of recognition, Jesus disappears from their presence. Cleopas and his companion rushes to Jerusalem to tell the other followers of Jesus that he has appeared to them in his resurrected and glorified body.

Resources:

Holy Bible. (2001).  New International Version (NIV). Houghton & Stoughton. UK.

Image Credit:

Christ and his disciples on the Road to Emmaus, by Jan Wildens. Hermitage Museum (current location).  Accessed from en.wikipedia.org,  April 21, 2014.

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