Summary: After the resurrection, the followers of Jesus were in a harried state. Some of them were on the run, others were simply trying to make sense of what had happened. In the midst of our life circumstances, how does the Resurrected Christ make himself real
Opener: I hope you had a bad Easter….I know you think I should be saying “I hope you had a good Easter”…but for today’s sermon, it might be better for you if you had a bad Easter. Because when you think back to the first Easter, the disciples weren’t gathering together early on Sunday, excited about a sunrise service at the local park and looking forward to singing “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today” and then partaking of a lovely Easter dinner with ham, turkey and all the trimmings. Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the early disciples or the early followers of Christ…it was truly an emotional rollercoaster…the glory and pageantry of Palm Sunday…the tumultuous week of the Passion…the last supper, words and rumors of betrayal, the dramatic trial and then of course the gruesome and tragic crucifixion of Christ…and then on Sunday….more rumours…this time of a body that was no longer in the tomb…and some people saying that they had actually seen the resurrected Christ. And so on Easter Sunday, if you asked some of the followers of Christ how their Easter was? What do you think the answer would be? Lovely! Blessed! I think not….more like, Insane! Heart-wrenching!
And so I hope you had a bad Easter…not in a masochistic sense but in the sense that it will put you better in touch with these friends of ours that we walk with to Emmaus…bewildered disciples who were trying to make some sense of what had happened during a crazy Passover weekend in Jerusalem….and as we look closer at today’s texts, we will see 3 choices that help these disillusioned disciples move from a place of BEWILDERED to being BEWONDERED by the presence of the resurrected Christ…
1) The Bewildered disciples are OPEN TO AN INTERRUPTION (v. 13-27)
Our passage starts off with two disciples heading out from Jerusalem on an 11.5 km journey (NorthWest) to Emmaus. These are not the 11 disciples, but the broader circle of disciples that followed after Jesus. One is named Cleopas and the other is a close friend, perhaps even the wife of Cleopas. The two friends are caught up in conversation…at a walking pace, this would probably be a 2-3 hour journey and they have MUCH to talk about…it is the First Easter Sunday, the Passover week has just finished and so they are probably talking about the incredible events of the past 2 weeks…the wild and crazy events that led to the crucifixion of their Lord and friend, Jesus…and then these strange reports that were now swirling about in regards to an empty tomb, angelic visitations and the perplexing news that Jesus was now alive!?!
In the midst of their talk, they soon realize that someone else has joined them on the journey…the stranger is Jesus, but for some reason, the disciples are kept from recognizing him. Instead, he is just an interruption….how are you with interruptions? If you’re anything like me, they are annoying…nagging distractions that take us away from the more important things of life. But….in the midst of their bewilderment, the disciples make the right choice…instead of dismissing this person as a “third-wheel”, they allow him to enter in to their conversation. Surprisingly, the stranger starts off with a question: “What are you discussing as you walk along?” Perhaps an innocent question but in the context of what was going on in Jerusalem, I wonder if their first thoughts were of condescension….in v. 18, Cleopas responds “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
As the disciples respond to this stranger and fill him in on the current events of the day we get some insights into why they are so bewildered. It seems that these disciples were “let down” by God…they had been counting on Jesus to be their redeemer…to be the one who would set them free from political/social injustice. They were looking for Jesus to be the “magic messiah,” waving his wand and making everything better for these disciples’ lives. They had developed high hopes in this “prophet powerful in deed and word” (v. 19) but had just a few days earlier been witnesses to his grisly and torturous death.
Let’s pause for a moment here….aren’t we sometimes the same way? We put all our hopes in God for answering some prayer for us (a new job, boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, make the team/grade/promotion) and now it’s the 3rd day….or the 3rd month…..or the 3rd year….and we haven’t seen the result we wanted…and we find ourselves disillusion and disappointed because we didn’t think God was supposed to work that way?!?
And the disciples were so caught up in their confusion and their downcast hearts that they were missing resurrection literally looking them straight in the face. May God grant us the wisdom to be open to holy interruptions in our lives, rather than focusing on our life circumstances and agendas.