3rd Sunday of Easter  /  The Road to Emmaus  /  Luke 24: 13 – 35

Pastor Carol KniseleyResurrection Lutheran Church


On the Road Again


‘On the road again’…used to be one of my favorite Country music songs.    That is, until I started spending so much time on the road meeting with the Virginia Synod Candidacy Committee.     As one of 13 members on the committee, my job is to help people discern whether or not they are being called into full time ministry within the life of the ELCA.      For the most part, I can tell you that probably as many as 50% of all applicants never make it to the front door of the seminary.    And yet, they continue to come.    People of all ages come: males and females alike, people from every walk of life imaginable, some with graduate degrees stacked one on top of the other, and some with no degree at all.    All come professing to have a love for Christ and the church.    And all come believing that they have in some sense…”seen” the Risen Lord.


Amazing, isn’t it?   After Jesus’ resurrection…even those who saw him in the flesh had a hard time convincing anyone else it was true.    The disciple Thomas didn’t buy it, that is until he had seen for himself and placed his own finger into the wound in Jesus’ side.    But the truth is…that is our situation here today.   None of us was there for the real death or the rumored resurrection.     And so now all of us have been left with a decision to make about the truth of what we have seen and heard for ourselves.     And the decision gets even harder when the road we’re on…is called Emmaus.  


Emmaus is a road that every single one of us will walk at some point in our life at one time or another.       It is the road of deep disappointment, when nothing turns out the way it was suppose to be.   At least that’s the way it was for the two disciples described in Luke’s Gospel…as the first day of Easter was drawing to a close.  It took two hours to make the 7 mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus…which gave them plenty of time to rehash the events of the past three days.     The trial…the crucifixion…the deafening silence of the procession to the tomb.      And then came the vision of an angel rolling away the stone and revealing an empty grave.     Yes, Jesus’ death was as real as that of Pope John Paul ll.     We don’t need to see it broadcast on CNN to know that.   But what you won’t see on CNN…is anything about a resurrection.   


They were talking it all over when “a stranger” comes up behind them and asks them what they are talking about.   And so they begin to tell him everything they know.     They told him how everything in the beginning had been so promising.    Jesus had captured the attention of everyone…not just with his ministry of healing and teaching…but by the way he related to the people.    He treated each one as if they were the most important person in the entire world.     But then…things began to go horribly wrong.     The same people he had cured turned their backs on him in his hour of need.    And now there was nothing left to do but return home.    “We had hoped he was the one,” they all said, “but…we were wrong.”


Have you ever wondered how it was that people who were with Jesus day in and day out still…didn’t know him?     It’s almost as if they saw him on one hand…but on the other…never really saw him at all.      Throughout his entire ministry, they couldn’t see that his goal was not to win at all costs…but instead to lose everything in order to build up the Kingdom.     He was not to be the undefeated champ of the world, but instead the suffering servant whose wounds would remain visible for all the world to see.    Why?   Simple.   


His wounds are the proof that he is who he says he is.    Because the way you recognize the risen Christ is not by the color of his eyes or the texture of his hair.    The way one recognizes Jesus…is by His scars.     And so when they arrive at their village and it’s time to say goodbye…something about him compels them to invite him to stay.   And he does.     But the thing is…he makes a very odd guest.     It is their house, their food, their table, but when the three of them do get together…it is Jesus who acts as the host.    


Taking the bread…he blesses it (gives thanks), breaks it, and gives it to them individually.   They had seen him do this exact same act many times before.    Once on a hillside with 5 loaves and 2 fish and then again in an upper room with unleavened bread and passover wine.   He takes….blesses….breaks….and gives….and somehow through the torn edges of the loaf he holds out to them, they  look at him…and they know who he is.  


What is so amazing to see in this story…is that the “blindness” of the two disciples does not keep Jesus from coming to them.    He comes to the disappointed, the doubtful, the disenchanted.    He comes to those who do not know their Bibles and who don’t even recognize him when he’s walking right beside them.      He comes to those who have given up and are even on their way back home…even on the road to Emmaus once again.  


The point is…Jesus seems to prefer working with broken people, with broken lives, living in a broken world.    And if someone were to hand him a whole loaf of bread…he would take it, bless it, break it, and then give it the same way he gave his own body and blood , because that is the way God showed him to show the rest of us:    to take what we have been given (whether we like it or not), and to bless it (which means to say thank you to God).   Then we are to break it…(because that is the only way it can be shared) and then given to someone who will eat it with us.     In doing so, it is the broken loaf that draws all of us broken ones together into one body…where we may recognize the risen Christ in our very midst.   


Drawing all of the broken pieces together…for me…is like being in the very presence of God.   One moment your eyes are opened and you recognize him for who he truly is…and the next, he vanishes into thin air.   But rest assured.    This is the place where he has promised to be and where he promises to meet each one of us on the road to Emmaus…wherever that turns out to be.    Amen