Thought for the week, 30 April 2017

Luke 24:13-36

Luke recounts the experiences of two disciples as they walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of the Resurrection. They were feeling bereaved, dispirited and demoralised after the crucifixion of the man they had hoped would “redeem Israel.. These two disciples knew about the events at the tomb that morning: perhaps, they had been present and had listened in disbelief to the women’s story of the empty tomb, the message from the angels and Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ. For a brief moment, Mary failed to recognise Jesus. This is understandable, as she may have been dazzled by the bright morning sunlight or may have still been in shock from her encounter with the angels. This contrasts markedly, however, with the journey to Emmaus, when Jesus walked and talked with His two disciples for a considerable length of time and yet, almost inconceivably, they failed to recognise Him.

Luke creates a sense of mounting suspense as they walked with this man who seemed unaware of the recent events in Jerusalem but was able to explain, with great authority, all that the Scriptures foretold about the Christ. He dispelled their misconceptions about the redemption of Israel and still they did not know their teacher.

Did Jesus deliberately shield his true identity from them and, if so, why? Perhaps, He needed the disciples to listen and come to a true understanding, without the emotional distraction of knowing that they were in the presence of the resurrected Jesus.

The poignancy and beauty in this story comes with the dramatic revelation, when He broke bread at the end of their shared journey, that the stranger who had opened the Scriptures to them and caused their “hearts to burn” was none other than the risen Christ.