Lent began on Ash Wednesday, March 6, and ended yesterday on Holy Saturday. Today, as part of our celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we conclude our series with an additional devotion by Rev. John Yates.
The Road to Emmaus
Luke 24:13-53 (ESV)
Luke 24:13-53 (MSG)
Hundreds saw the risen Christ over the next month or two before he ascended, but none had an experience quite like the couple Cleopas and Mary, described in Luke 24.
“That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation … In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.”
“He asked, ‘What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?’
“Cleopas said, ‘The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people ... And we had our hopes up that he was … the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.’”
As far as Cleopas knew, that was the end of Jesus’ story.
Cleopas isn’t the only one whose understanding of Jesus is incomplete. This is all many people know of Christ. That he was a good and great man, there is no doubt, but about the empty tomb, well, people just shrug. This couple’s lack of understanding was, frankly, painful for the risen Lord who had carefully, repeatedly explained how the scriptures described that the Savior must suffer and die before he could be glorified. But they had only heard what they wanted to hear, which is characteristic of all of us when God speaks to us. He explained to them how the writings of Moses, David, and the prophets had all pointed to him and that it was absolutely essential for the Son of God to suffer and die in order to take the sins of the world upon himself, for God to be able to offer you and me unconditional forgiveness for our sins.
Now this couple had not been present at the Last Supper, they knew nothing of Holy Communion, but at the moment He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them, suddenly they knew. They saw the terrible scars on those hands and they knew. For one brief moment, their eyes were opened and they saw the risen Lord Jesus. And then he was taken from their sight.
There are two great truths to be seen in this little story.
First, Jesus did truly rise from the dead and the resurrection is the single most important fact of our faith. In the resurrection, Jesus is shown to be God, death and the devil are permanently defeated, eternal life is proven, and because he lives, any one of us can experience his presence, in even the humblest and plainest of circumstances. Even at a common, simple meal at the table at home you can pray:
“Come Lord Jesus, Be our guest
Let thy gifts to us be blessed
Let thy presence here be known
For we trust in thee alone.”
Second, God will speak to us, too, through the scriptures, for they are His Word to us. “How our hearts burned within us while he opened the scriptures to us” (vs. 32). Hearing God speak to us can set our hearts on fire so that we are never again the same.
John Yates has been the rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia, since 1979. John is married to Susan Alexander Yates. They have five adult children and 21 grandchildren.