The Road to Emmaus

If the links don’t work for you, here is Chris Smith’s video presentation “On the Road to Emmaus” and My God is So Big.

A week’s worth of Bible readings for youth and adults following the themes of the Road to Emmaus.

Todays reading is Luke 24:13-35Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Revd Richard Pendlebury.

One of the stories that attracted my attention over the last week or so was the arrival back of three astronauts from the space station having completed their tour of duty. One had been in space for 9 months the others 6 months. The world they left was very different from the world they arrived back in. They went when the world was open for business and they have arrived back to a world where well over half of the world is in lockdown. It must be very strange for them arriving back, being greeted by people in face masks and surgical gloves.

2000 or so years ago the world saw a far more dramatic change when a crowd of people demanded the Roman authorities execute Jesus of Nazareth. To some he was a prophet and teacher, to others a dangerous heretic and a nuisance. To those who were his disciples however, he was their master, saviour, friend and the longed hoped for Messiah. Jesus’ crucifixion however had devastated these faithful followers and cast doubt in their minds; it was the end of the world as they knew it. Most went into hiding for fear of the Roman authorities.

In the Bible reading today the resurrected Jesus joins a two of those disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. He listens to their conversation and asks what are you talking about? Their response is incredulous—Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ In other words “where have you been—have you been living on another planet or perhaps like those astronauts in outer space?”

Jesus plays along as the unknowing stranger “what things?”. Cleopas gives a potted history of Jesus trial and execution and the events since; including the tomb being empty and the women in the group having encountered angels who had told them that Jesus was alive. They clearly didn’t know what to make of all this so Jesus explains the scriptures to them.

‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah* should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

One of the commentators says that these disciples were looking through the telescope the wrong way round. They had seen the story of the Messiah redeeming Israel from suffering, whereas, Jesus was to redeem Israel through suffering.

Having explained the Scriptures to them, they urge Jesus to stay with them. Jesus goes to their home and as he breaks bread and as he gives thanks something happens:

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’

What a transformation! From confusion—to joy and hope. They hardly finish their meal they’re so excited, and rush back to Jerusalem to find the Eleven and other friends to tell them the good news that Jesus was indeed alive.

It is a beautifully crafted story. In this short time this morning I want to pick up on one point—the disciples hearts burning when Jesus spoke to them.

Where do we meet Jesus in our daily walk with him? When we meet with him do our hearts burn? We meet him in prayer, through fellowship with one another but perhaps the obvious place is in the Bible.

My regular Bible which I have had for over 20 years has the words of Jesus in red. Some of you might have a similar version. There is something special about reading Jesus words and to me they seem to come alive when I read them, perhaps you find the same too. But as Jesus explained in the passage today, the whole of the Bible is important because it tells of God’s love for us and of his desire for us to be in fellowship with him.

Since becoming a Christian many years ago my Bible has become a very precious book and wherever I go I always take a Bible. Except for one time—Some years I went on a mountaineering trip to the Italian Alps with a friend and to save on weight I didn’t take my Bible. As many of you know the trip ended abruptly when I became ill with a serious condition and I ended up in an Italian Hospital. Day two when I was moved from the high dependency unit to a ward, it hit me.

  • I was a 800 miles away from home, on my own with a life threatening condition in a place I didn’t speak the language. A phrase book in this situation is not a lot of help.

I felt bereft and couldn’t pray, I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t have a Bible to bring me comfort. On day four I was delighted when my friend found a Gideon New Testament in the hospital in 4 languages including English and was able to read a Gospel or two. To read those words of Jesus was a lifesaver. I have never made that mistake again. If I need to save on weight a little New Testament goes with me.

In these difficult times when we are all penned in, maybe on our own, our Bibles are the place where we meet Jesus on a day to day basis. Of course with technology, Bibles can be on phones but in my view there is no substitute for a Bible you know where you have spent time in its pages. If you aren’t reading it daily why not get into the habit as one of your lock down daily rhythms or routines. Choose a quiet space each day and spend time reading and reflecting. Do use notes or commentaries to help you.

But it is one thing to read this book in private study but you can go a stage further by sharing what you have discovered with others. Some of my friends send me Bible verses from time to time. This does two things for me—makes me feel cared for and secondly brings me a word of encouragement in my faith.

May I encourage us all over the coming week to share a Bible verse or passage with a friend, something that has encouraged us, or indeed made our hearts burn. Let us bring each other the hope of the risen Jesus to each other.

Amen

There will be a video version of the service and a podcast of the sermon.

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