That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (ESV Luke 24:13-15)
“Can’t see your nose in front of your face “
Idiom Meaning – Being oblivious to something obvious, in clear view.
On the Road to Emmaus Jesus had His faithful disciples not recognize him. It is easy to focus on the disciples short-comings. To see the disciples as men with a weak faith or just too spiritually dense to be effective witnesses. Why were the disciples unable to see the obvious? Jesus is right there in front of their face, and they can’t see him. Could the answer also be obvious?
A Cultural Blindness
Early in the Easter story account, we know that God used the witness of the women at the tomb to broadcast the news that, “Christ, is Risen!” In that period of history, women were not allowed to testify in a Roman court because they were considered by the men of that time to be untrustworthy witnesses.
I love how God turns man-made customs and rules on their head. In all four of the accounts in the Gospels, the people who gave witness to the resurrection were not the fear-filled faithful male followers, but women. Society’s second-class citizens were given the honor to announce to the world that God keeps His promise and has rescued Israel. Is it possible that what contributed to the disciple’s spiritual density is that they were reacting to the societal norms of rejecting the untrustworthy witness of the women?
What is causing you blindness in your Emmaus road journey? What group of people in your life (if they were the ones God called to tell you Christ is risen) would you struggle to find reliable?
But the disciples did something right in this story.
How to Welcome the Stranger?
Even though they did not recognize Jesus, they interacted with him. They had a welcoming heart and spirit to include him in their lives at this most vulnerable time. They had the wherewithal to have a deep faith conversation with someone who seems totally unaware of one of the most epic events in the history of mankind, the Son of God has been killed, which leads to point number two.
2. They Shared their Faith. Even though they were unaware of who this stranger was, they shared with him the events of the last three days.
“And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”Luke 24:17-21a
You can hear in this conversation the disappointment in the disciple’s voice. All their hopes and dreams of who Jesus was and what He would do to rescue Israel were dashed on that Good Friday, but Jesus would not leave them in despair. He would open the Word of God for them, and He would open their eyes when He is invited to their house. And that is the final point.
3. They Entertained the Stranger in their home. These two disciples do the right thing through their hospitality. In that culture, guests were expected to refuse an offer of hospitality until the host firmly insisted that they stay and eat. These disciples do just that and what a faith-filled blessing that was for them.
So, they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So, he went in to stay with them.Luke 24: 28-29
Jesus not only remains but He takes control of the meal. Jesus takes the bread just like He did at the Passover celebration where He redefines the meal. He says this bread is my body broken and given to you for the forgiveness of sins. This wine is my blood, sealing a covenant with God and mankind. Jesus gives thanks and takes the bread, the host, and in the breaking the bread their eyes are open, and they see Jesus. We too recognize that Jesus appears to us in the meal of Holy Communion, in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine. That was true then, and it is true now. When we are courageous enough to open our hearts and lives to welcome the stranger, we show them Jesus in our midst.
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