Cleopas and his friend trudged along the road towards Emmaus trying to process what had happened. They had been so sure that Jesus was the Messiah but now he was dead.
If Jesus was the Messiah, he appeared to be a broken and defeated one!
As they walked along in disbelief trying to make sense of the everything that they had witnessed a stranger approached them and started walking with them. He asked them what the matter was and they told about of the death of Jesus. They told him of their hurt and pain that they were feeling about what had happened and of the confusion and disappointment that was filling their every waking moment.
Finally the confessed their deepest and darkest secret:
Some women went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find the body of Jesus. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus. (Luke 24.22-24)
These disciples had heard a rumour that Jesus was alive but instead of finding out more, they were walking away from the only place where the truth could be found.
We can only guess what their motivation was in leaving Jerusalem. Perhaps they simply had responsibilities in Emmaus or possibly their disappointment and hurt ran so deep that they couldn’t face getting their hopes up only to be dashed again?
The stranger began to explain to them that Messiah had to suffer and die and as he talked, the brokenness that these men felt seemed to melt away. It was replaced by awe and they began to feel excited as they understood that Jesus had died to save them and that he hadn’t failed at all!
Jesus was the Messiah and his suffering and death had been a key part of rather than the end of his mission.
As they arrived at Emmaus, Cleopas and his friend invited the stranger to stay and later as they shared a meal together he broke the bread and in that moment they saw that he was Jesus. (The Bible passage in Luke 24 says that God had kept them from recognizing Jesus until that moment).
One of the things that struck me as I was thinking about this journey to Emmaus was the way that these men were living like it was still Easter Saturday when in fact it was Easter Sunday and Jesus was alive again.
How about you?
As you look honestly at your life and faith, does it feel more like you have an Easter Saturday or Sunday faith?
On Easter Saturday it looked like God was powerless and it felt like the powers of evil had won.
On Easter Sunday it was clear that God is more powerful than anything else and that he had won!
Sometimes, Christians and churches are stuck in an Easter Saturday mindset. Prayers are offered but there is no real expectation that the God, who feels incredibly far away, will act in power.
The good news is that Jesus wants to walk with us through life!
Jesus promises to be with his followers but we have to ask ourselves whether we want to be with him? When we do acknowledge that he is with us, do we talk with him or just at him?
Cleopas and his friend talked at Jesus. They poured out their hearts to him about everything they were feeling but then they listened as he spoke to them. If they had just talked at him rather than with him then they would have continued in their brokenness and hurt and nothing would have changed.
Caravaggio painted two works based on the supper at Emmaus. This is the later one that he created towards the end of his life. Both paintings are almost identical in terms of the characters. Jesus, the two disciples and a kind of innkeeper figure appear in both of the paintings. The one difference is the servant girl who is listening in. Some people think that this was Caravaggio’s way of representing himself in his painting, that he felt like an outsider listening in wondering if Jesus would talk with him and accept him as well.
Jesus was heading past Emmaus but Cleopas and his friend invited him to stay and Jesus did.
Whether you are Cleopas, Caravaggio, a servant girl or someone else, if you invite Jesus to stay then he will!
Cleopas and his friend were walking in the wrong direction! They were heading away from God’s plan for their life but Jesus still followed them and walked with them!
You may be heading the wrong way like Cleopas but Jesus will still come and walk with you. As he does will we welcome and talk with him?
We may be past Easter Sunday but Jesus is still alive and he is willing to walk and talk with us. How will this affect the way you live today?