April 24, 2022
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35
This incident – post Resurrection – is such a precious, intimate event. It is one of a series of stories where Jesus shows up after his death to let his followers know that his death was not the final word. This year when I revisited this story, I saw it in a new way and I wanted to see if I could put it into words for you today.
All of these post-resurrection appearances are different. Sometimes his body seems quite physical, other times they witnessed him able to walk through walls. Sometimes they instantly knew who he was, but not in this story! They didn’t recognize him and walked with him for a few miles, never recognizing him! He was just a stranger!
But perhaps we might imagine what it might have been like for those two fellow travelers on that road to Emmaus if they took the time to reflect on their experience a day or so later. I wonder if they might have looked back on those miles of intimate conversation and said to themselves: “How did we miss it? How did we not recognize him? It was just like Jesus, wasn’t it?”
And that’s what intrigued me this year. Jesus knew who he was, what he was called to do, and how he was called to go about doing the things God called him to do. It is those unique things about the way he lived that set Jesus apart and should become principles we live by. And those things that he always had done were just what Jesus did on that road to Emmaus! What were those things he always did?
FOR JESUS, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP
He always cared about the individual that was in front of him. More than most anyone I’ve known, Jesus lived in the present. He was at home with anyone whom he encountered. Their class, ethnicity, status and wealth never seemed to matter as long as that person sincerely wanted to engage Jesus.
Look at him with those two men. Here he was just doing the things he had always done! Doing them the way he always had done them. Never once is the skin color mentioned, their occupation, their status, or their bank account. Jesus just engaged them honestly and openly and sincerely. He cared about them.
For me, sifting out my prejudices and acting to delete them is not easy. They hide in the cracks and crevices of my life and, if I’m not careful, I will close my eyes to them, denying that they even exist! Not so with Jesus. He engaged the crooks, the foreigners, the women, the outcast, and the lepers and treated each of them just like he did the politicians and the religious leaders.
FOR JESUS THE QUESTIONS WERE ALL FAIR GAME.
He was a subscriber to “There are no stupid questions.” People were always asking him questions: “What about eternal life?” “What is truth?” “Who is my neighbor?” He treated every question with respect and compassion.
We live in a time when asking sincere questions can result in ridicule, shame or even rejection. Even in the church, it is so often true that one dare not expose the doubts and the disbelief that haunts our minds and hearts without feeling like an outcast. I am so thankful for the general sense of acceptance and tolerance here at St. Johns. It is rare!
With those two men on that road, Jesus started with their questions, their fears, their sadness and despair without judgment and loved them with the care of his Heavenly Father.
FOR JESUS IT WAS NOT ABOUT DOGMA AND RIGHT BELIEF.
Here is the one that trips the church up regularly. It is the church that worries about what you believe and what you do not believe. It is the church that requires you to subscribe to their statement of faith before you can be in full fellowship. It is the church that takes that first expression of doubt and then on that basis, decides if you are headed for heaven or hell.
With those two travelers, Jesus encouraged them to trust him but did not call for them to accept the belief system of the synagogue or even the beliefs of his own little band of followers.
FOR JESUS, IT WAS ABOUT LOVE.
There are so many things about God that I do not understand. So many questions that seem to have no answers. So many things that Jesus never quite answered and are left for us to ponder and sometimes decide what it is we have come to believe. And so many things that people all over the world seem to differ about.
But there is one thing I hold to and that is love. It is love that brought us into the world. It is love that sustains us. It was love that brought Jesus into the world and it was only love that allowed him to endure what he did for our sake. And, I believe that it is love that waits for us on the other side of this earthly journey.
Most all of the other details seem to take a lesser place in the face of this one. God is love. I cannot see beyond that and I cannot prove that it is so, but that is where I have come to rest and it is enough for me.