I have a daily devotional delivered to my email each morning. I usually don’t get around to reading it until the afternoon. But this morning I looked at it just after reading the newspaper. And it stopped me in my tracks. Because today’s reading was from Luke referred to as “The Road to Emmaus”. There is a painting that hangs in my mother’s living room with the same name. The story is of the disciples on Easter morning as they travel away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They have witnessed the torture and murder of their leader. And then, miraculously it appears, some have proclaimed that he is alive again. These disciples are debating the believability of that last claim. Jesus is alive again? How could this be? Within the story it happens that a person comes walking up to these disciples and asks what they are talking about. They explain the events of the past week. And this newcomer sets about explaining how it could be…that this Jesus did indeed come back to live to fulfill the ancient prophecies and writings. The disciples are excited by this guys’ interpretation of events and ask him to come to their house to share dinner. As they sit down to dinner, Jesus breaks the bread, gives thanks and then they realize whom they have been talking to as he vanishes.
I’ve studied and taught this story in an adult bible class for years. I’ve read back stories and explanations from scholars. I viewed a lot of artwork about this image. It is one of my favorite stories of Easter. And yet today, I got a slightly different interpretation from the story than I had ever had before. Because it occurred to me that I’ve been on my own “Road to Emmaus” for many years. The other disciples and I; from Dennis to Rod to Bill to Brett to Alison to well, just about anyone else I met along the way, we are all doing the same thing those disciples of long ago were doing. Questioning, wondering, doubting and debating. Who is Jesus? What does he mean to us? How could these things actually have come to pass? All those things and more are constantly ping-ponging through our discussions, our bible studies and whenever we meet together and talk. The problem sometimes is that we don’t see Jesus when he comes up and interrupts us to share his wisdom. We somehow feel like we have to answer all the questions without his assistance. Which is patently false. And totally human. Jesus enters into the conversation every time someone/ANYONE enters the discussions. Because he promised to be there in the midst of us. Breaking bread, sharing the peace and even when we aren’t standing next to each other, being there among us. And that was my revelation this morning. Even though I know Jesus is with us, he really is with us still when we aren’t standing shoulder to shoulder. When we aren’t sharing the hugs and worship space. He is there among and within us. On our way to Emmaus.