One of the interesting things about the bible is that it has so many styles of literature all under one cover. There is poetry, history, laws, lessons and stories.
Today’s Gospel is a good example of that last one. This morning we find ourselves toward the end of the Gospel of Luke, actually both yesterday and today we did. Before that was John, Monday was Matthew and Sunday morning was back to John. But all 5 days were the continuation of the same story. The week began with Peter and John finding the empty tomb, then Mary of Magdalen finds the empty tomb. Yesterday two of Jesus’ disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus talking about the events since the weekend and today was the day right after that walk to Emmaus when the disciples are all together and Jesus appears to them. Clearly these are troubling times for the disciples. What is going on, what is happening and what are they to believe.
Maybe yesterday’s part of the story best sums this all up. That gospel, commonly known as the Road to Emmaus, is one of the most commonly known of the scripture passages.
Did you know that there is a song, three movies, one in Portuguese, a book, a documentary, dozens of paintings, one by Rembrandt. There are numerous reflections, sermons, podcasts and even weeklong retreats available on this one simple story.
The story begins with two of Jesus’ disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were returning home from the Passover celebrations and were naturally talking about the events of the day. It was going to be a hot, dry 2 hour walk when out of nowhere another traveler caught up and started talking with them.
Hello, how are you? Sure is hot and dry today. What have you guys been talking about?” Normal walking to Emmaus kind of stuff. To which the disciples get a little annoyed, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”
It says that the disciples were “looking downcast”, and I don’t think that Jesus was trying to be insensitive, but he basically says “what are you talking about? What things?” To which they tell him the whole story, from the chief priests handing Jesus over to the crucifixion to the recent news that Mary had returned with reports of seeing that the tomb was empty.
The interesting line in that section of Luke was when Cleopas said, “we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel”. We were hoping that He would be the one?
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
You can just imagine that Jesus had been wanting to say this since Cleopas started relating the events of the weekend. It was sort of like a 2nd grader telling you that when you put two apples with two other apples you get 4 apples. “Oh, how foolish you are?” of course you get 4 apples what did you think was going to happen? Of course, the events of this Passover happened as you said, what did you think was going to happen?
“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” You hear that again today, “He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. You would think that He would get tired telling them over and over.
The Son of Man had to come to earth, he had to speak to us as a man, suffer as a man, be crucified and die so that he could conquer death and be reborn. When scripture tells us that “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that we might live”, did we not get that this meant that he would have to be beaten, spat upon and crucified “so that we might live”? We have an 8 year old grand son who knows everything. There is not one thing that you can tell him that he does not already know. Part of this is because he is really smart and part of this is because he is an 8 year old boy. He loves to say, “I knew that.” “I already knew that”, “Yea, I knew that”. The funny thing about being an 8 year old boy is that even though they know everything it is alright to then immediately admit, “I didn’t know that.” So, maybe the appeal of the story of the road to Emmaus is that it is really about two 8 year old boys kicking a can down the road on their way home. They knew of the events of the past weekend; they just didn’t know what they meant. They knew that their hearts were burning they just didn’t know why.
Maybe the appeal is in the fact that we know that God so deeply loves us we just didn’t know how much that meant.
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
We already knew that … didn’t we?
“This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
April 21, 2022
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