While it was only two weeks ago, Easter might already seem a distant memory to some of us. The joyful bigness of the day has faded back into the mundane routine of work and school and chores and responsibility. Things are “back to normal” as they say.
But this coming Sunday, we are going to travel with disciples who did not yet know or understand the freedom of Easter. While it was still the third day, the day that Jesus’ tomb had been found empty by the women and later confirmed empty by Peter, they simply didn’t get it. It was too unreal, too unclear, too impossible to believe.
They were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem — maybe returning home, maybe for work. We don’t know. But as they walked, putting the events of Jesus’ death further behind them, they talked to each other about all that had happened.
We don’t know the nature of their conversation, but it may have been some combination of despairing and doubting and blaming and wondering.
And as they went, Jesus himself arrived, joining them on their journey. He inserted himself into their despair and doubt and blame and wonder. And Jesus asked them what they were talking about.
But they didn’t see that it was Jesus. They didn’t see that it was their risen Lord.
After accusing Jesus himself of being the only person in all of Jerusalem to have missed all that had happened, they told him the story of all that had happened to him.
Looking at Jesus, telling him the story of his own death, and his own supposed resurrection, they still couldn’t see him — until he joined them for a meal.
When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?” (John 24:28-32)
In that familiar meal, they saw him. They knew him. And they knew that the accounts of the women and Peter were true. He is risen! He really is risen! He is risen indeed!
This Sunday, we will gather around the table and share in that same familiar meal. And as those disciples from the Emmaus road did, we will also hope to have our eyes opened to the presence of Jesus and the joyful truth of his resurrection. And maybe, just maybe, Easter won’t feel like such a distant memory — but rather an up-close, transformative, life-giving reality.
See you Sunday,
Rev. Casey Orr
Associate Pastor of Discipleship