BIBLE READING: Luke 24:13-35
Marcus Borg tells us that there are three different places in the Holy Land that claim to be the village of Emmaus. Three places! Furthermore, he points out that there is no record of any village called Emmaus in any ancient source. The only place in all the ancient writings is in Luke’s gospel.
Now we can understand why three different places in modern times would claim to be Emmaus–there is money to be made from pilgrims. Makes perfect sense to me. It is a place that I would want to go.
But there are three Emmaus’s and there never was an Emmaus – so how can we become pilgrims?
Maybe Luke made up the village of Emmaus on purpose, if he had named another place it would become a pilgrimage sight and disciples would flock there trying to find Jesus and they (we) would miss the point of the story. Luke is saying that the risen Christ is not found in a place, but in our life together – in the common things we do – like eating.
Imagine if you will, what Luke would be saying if he wrote
that the couple on the road to Emmaus were going to some place that didn’t
exist. Luke would be saying that, essentially, they were going nowhere.
Would this make sense?
Well, yes, when you take into consideration what Luke thought about the city of Jerusalem. In the Gospel of Luke the city of Jerusalem is a real place and it’s a highly symbolic place. From early on in the Gospel, Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem and proceeds to Jerusalem as a place of destiny.
If Jesus is to fulfil the will of God; he must go to Jerusalem. The entire Gospel is spent with the Lord, heading to Jerusalem.
For Luke, Jerusalem is the ultimate some place--if you are heading towards Jerusalem, you are going somewhere.
If you are heading towards Emmaus, you are going nowhere.
So the Gospel is set up like this. The disciples are going nowhere until they meet Jesus on the road. After they meet the Lord, they turn around and begin going somewhere. The point being - if we don’t encounter the Lord, we are going nowhere.
This is a story about being on a road to somewhere. It is encountering the risen Lord which makes all the difference.
So, then, what does it mean when one encounters the risen Lord.
For some, the encounter bringing enlightenment. For others, the encounter brings about deep and profound changes.
changes the people on the road. They must give up their old thoughts for a new
A story: One day a town had a big flood. The flood was so bad that people were sitting on the second floors of their homes, watching the water rise.
One little boy sat in his upstairs bedroom and he became fascinated by a red baseball cap, going back and forth in the water. The cap seemed to float the length of their property and turned around and came back. The little boy was absolutely transfixed by the red cap.
Finally he called his mother and said, "Mum - look at the red cap. It just moves back and forth."
His mother looked out the window and said, "That's no red cap. That's your father. He said he was going to mow the lawn today come hell or high water, and that's him doing it now."
The thing is, Jesus changes us – we are not stuck doing what we used to do -going nowhere. On our journey through life, Jesus challenges us to change.
For some, the encounter with the risen Christ brings about hope.
Christianity is about hope. Think about Jesus for a moment and you’ll find that the word ‘hope,’ though often not explicitly used, is a word which permeates the gospel message.
Blind people are brought to Jesus and they have no hope of ever seeing; and Jesus gives them sight. Lepers are brought to Jesus and they have no hope of ever being healthy of ever being in ‘normal’ society and Jesus heals them. The deaf are brought to Jesus and they have no hope of ever hearing; and Jesus gives them hearing.
But these are not Jesus’ greatest miracles.
Some of the greatest miracles are those people who are sinners. They have estranged themselves from their families, their God, and they even have alienated themselves from their own hearts. And Jesus gives them words of grace, words of forgiveness.
Jesus is the ultimate second chance. As long as there is Jesus, there is hope.
Which brings us back to the story. Cleopas and his companion are walking to nowhere. They question all that they had learned from Jesus. They have fixed their hearts on despair and they have no hope.
Until they meet Jesus on the road. Jesus turns them around and sends them back on the road to somewhere.
In Luke, the somewhere is Jerusalem. In reality, the somewhere is not a place; it is a someone, and that someone is the Lord who we meet on the road.