Summary: A short talk given at a Wednesday morning communion service reflecting upon Jesus drawing alongside the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He listened, rebuked and ate with them. What can we learn from this?
Two disciples, not from the original band of 12, but two other disciples are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It’s a little later on the same day that Jesus rose from the dead (24:13) and these two are discussing the events of recent days, including the fact that some of the women from their group had found the tomb empty and reported an encounter with angels, saying that Jesus was alive. Imagine their confusion and sense of bewilderment, and also imagine the fact that their journey is no quick stroll up the High Street. It is seven miles across the rugged Judean countryside and I estimate a 2 hour walk. What would you think about and what would you talk about to a close friend if you were to go for a 7 mile, 2 hour walk after this service? What issues of life and faith are leaving you confused or bewildered?
As they walked and talked Jesus drew alongside and walked with them but they didn’t recognise him.
I wonder how often Jesus has drawn alongside us in our grief, our questions, our confusion. I wonder how often Jesus has walked with us and we have not recognised him. I wonder how often he has carried us and we have not realised we were being held by the everlasting arms.
Jesus asked the two disciples what they were talking about and in response they poured out the story of Jesus of Nazareth (24:19), handed over to death by the religious leaders (24:20). He was the one they had expected to rescue and redeem Israel but he was crucified (24:20-21). Now, to cap it all, some of the women from their group are claiming that Jesus is alive and indeed the tomb is empty and his body is nowhere to be found (24:22-24). It is a mystery!
Fantastic! Jesus walked and talked with them and listened to their story just as he walks with us and listens to us; but …these two should’ve known better!
Jesus didn’t pat them on the head and say, “Never mind chaps it’ll be OK.” No! Still without them realising it was Jesus he rebuked them: “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (24:25). We don’t find it easy to rebuke our brothers and sisters in Christ do we? It is not easy, but Jesus models it. He walks and talks with the disciples and he listens to them. They don’t recognise the presence of Jesus but they know they’ve been listened to. He then rebukes them and beginning with Moses and all the prophets he explains what the scriptures say concerning himself and this was probably a long and detailed explanation – so much so that later these two men would say, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us” (24:32)?
I love this: As they ate together the formerly disconsolate disciples recognised His presence (24:30-31). The one who rebuked them ate with them!
This is compassionate listening, friendship, rebuke, teaching and correction and food fellowship all rolled into one. It is time given to encourage, challenge and change focus – and it has challenged me.
Do you need to know that Jesus is walking beside you and listening to you? He is with you. The Lord is here.
If Jesus was to rebuke me or to rebuke us for being foolish and slow to believe in him I wonder what he would say. He may speak to us through someone or through his word and we may not immediately recognise his presence; but if the rebuke is accompanied by encouragement, and scripture, and conversation and food …and if eventually we recognise and acknowledge the presence of Jesus …it will have the hallmark of an encounter with Him.
Yesterday with 600 others I sang the National Anthem in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.
Singing in her presence made a massive difference. It surprised me but I became very emotional as I sang about royalty in the presence of royalty.
Here we are in the presence of royalty – in the presence of the King. Jesus, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, reflecting upon his presence, his love, his gentle rebuke, his compassionate correction, his presence with us on the road, his presence with us now, and his presence in those we meet.
The two disciples were so excited by their encounter with Jesus they got up and returned to Jerusalem (24:33) – another two hour trip – so that they could tell the others that they recognised him ‘when he broke the bread’ (24:35).
Brothers and sisters the Lord is here whether we recognise him or not and he has things to say to us. Will we walk, will we talk, will we listen; will we eat?