Yr A ~ Easter 3 ~ Luke 24:13-35
“Now on that same day two of (Jesus’ followers) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.” [Lk 24:13-14]
That makes perfect sense. Two days earlier they watched the leader of their radical revolutionary renewal movement die a horrendous death on a Roman cross. Crucified as an enemy of the empire. Then just a few hours before this scene starts, the story starts to circulate among their group – the followers of this Jesus of Nazareth guy – that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb as expected and that people were having visions of him.
But nothing really seemed to come of it because these two travellers – Cleopas (not one of the 12 disciples, but obviously a follower of Jesus) and his companion (possibly his wife) – were on their way home to Emmaus – trying to sort out what it all meant, but clearly heading away from Jerusalem and returning to their regular lives.
“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” [Lk 24:15-16]
Again, that makes sense. Why would they recognize him? As far as they were concerned Jesus was dead. They had no reason to expect to encounter him on their walk. Just because we’re so familiar with the story and it seems so obvious to us doesn’t mean it should’ve been obvious to them. If someone dies you simply don’t expect to meet them on the road a couple of days later.
So these followers – who are more like abandoners, or giver-uppers at this point – are closed to the idea that there’s another chapter in the story.
They think it’s over. They’ve closed the book on Jesus, turned their back on Jerusalem, and are heading home.
They are closed. But Jesus is looking for an opening.
He knows they’re closed, but his mission is to find an opening. So he says to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” [Lk 24:17]
Ok, obviously he didn’t really say that. I mean, nobody actually talks like that. [stiffly] ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ No, he probably said something like, “Hey, you two seem like you’re talking about something big. What’s it about?” Or maybe, “Yo, yo, yo homies, what up?”
And here these followers had an opportunity to do something really great, but they blew it. They give this stranger the CNN version of what happened over the last while.
“There was a prophet who we followed but he got in trouble and was handed over to the Romans and was crucified. We had hoped that he was the one to set Israel free – that he was the Messiah – but now he’s dead, although some of our group saw visions of him, but it’s all over now.”
What a wasted opportunity. Two fervent followers of Jesus are talking about Jesus and a stranger comes up to them and asks what they’re talking about and instead of telling him something real about how their lives have been transformed they give the guy the CNN treatment.
And yet, to be fair that’s all they could do at that point – because they were still closed. It was still just a series of events to them. It wasn’t personal, or real, or spiritual yet. They couldn’t speak of their transformation because they hadn’t experienced one. read on