Summary: Jesus may come to us as a Stranger. Will we recognize Him?
“Walking with Jesus”
Two of Jesus’ disciples are walking home, down a dusty road, on the afternoon that Jesus rose from the dead.
I wonder if, before Jesus was crucified, they had ever expected to walk down this road again.
Had they planned to return home, some day, after having left everything to follow Jesus?
After-all, as they say, they had “hoped that [Jesus] was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
Nah, I think they had left home for good when they decided to follow Jesus.
But now that Jesus was gone; there was nowhere else for them to go.
Time to return to the old routine.
Time to get back to life.
What other choices were there?
There can be no doubt that the seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus was an especially difficult one on the afternoon of the first Easter.
We are told that as these two disciples were walking they were talking about everything that had happened.
They couldn’t get it out of their heads: The arrest, the trial, the horrible crucifixion, the fear, and now the confusion.
Some of the women had gone to the tomb that morning, and didn’t find Jesus’ body.
They had told them that they had seen “a vision of angels, who said that [Jesus] was alive.”
But that was just “crazy talk.”
They couldn’t stand anymore of it.
They had had enough.
And so, they headed home, defeated, with their tails between their legs.
Jesus had not only been their Lord, their hope and their reason for living—He had been their friend.
And they had believed in Him.
They had really believed.
They had walked so many miles with Jesus.
And they had so many happy memories.
What amazing and exciting times those had been.
But never again would they walk with Him.
Never again would they hear His voice.
They had enjoyed the Last Supper with Him just a few days ago, but now they would never eat with Him again.
They must have felt so empty.
They must have felt so lost.
I suppose they were in shock.
What would come next?
They were experiencing the stages of grief.
There aren’t many people in this room who haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one.
There aren’t many of us who cannot relate, in some way, to what Cleopas and the other disciple were experiencing on that long walk to Emmaus.
We are told in our Gospel Lesson for this morning that as the two disciples walked along, “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them” but they didn’t recognize Him.
And so they stood with “their faces downcast.”
I don’t know if very many of us recognize the Risen Christ the first time we see Him.
And how could we?
Oftentimes we aren’t looking for Him.
We aren’t expecting Him.
I mean, we don’t even have a picture to go by.
Just look at our passage for this morning.
We are told that the two disciples thought the Resurrected Jesus was “a stranger.”
People do have experiences, though.
One time my mother was walking across the campus of Ohio State University, where she went to school.
As she walked, she noticed another pair of feet walking next to hers.
Somehow, she knew it was Jesus.
She walked like that for a little while, until finally, she decided to look up.
But the One Who had been walking with her suddenly disappeared from her sight.
Are there different dimensions, and if we could only see through the eyes of faith, we could see so much more?
I really have no idea.
As far as I know, I have never actually literally “seen Jesus” but I have felt His presence with me many, many times.
I have experienced His love and care during times of terrible crisis.
I have seen His love carried out through other people Who love and follow Him.
I’ve experienced His Presence as I’ve read the Scriptures and worshipped.
And the older I get, the more aware I am that He is with me at all times.
I pray to Him nearly continuously.
I love Him.
I trust that He has forgiven me—even me and has delivered me from hell and death.
And I know He loves me and everyone else who lives and has ever lived.
And I see Him in other people.
I see Him in you all—right now, even.
I see Him in children and those who are elderly.
I see Him in those who hurt.
I see Him in the hungry.
I see Him in the addicts.
I see Him in those who are struggling, but have great faith, even in the midst of situations I cannot even fathom.
I also see Him working in the lives of the rich and well-fed.