May 9th, 2001
Luke 24: 13 – 35
Let us pray…..
Open my eyes, Lord I want to see Jesus; to reach out and touch Him; to show Him I love Him. Open my ears, Lord, and help me to listen. Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus.
Grace, mercy and peace to you this day in the name of the risen Lord Jesus Christ! Amen
This past week four of us went on a “midlife” hike in Harper’s ferry. We spent more time going to hiking trail and returning from the hiking trail then we did on the trail itself! As we began our journey on the C & O canal we realized we did not have a way of knowing how far we would be traveling. Time and leg strength we decided would allow us only so much time on the trail. Early on in the hike we came across a stranger who, when asked about “mile markers” on the trail promised us that those markers did exist. We simply had to open our eyes and look for the markers. Four women talking, enjoying the adventure of the C & O canal could not find ANY of those markers. Four bright, observant women missed each and every marker. We were sure that we had been misled or we did not know what to look for. After a while we decided to turn back thinking that perhaps we had traveled about one-half of the planned hike. It was getting late and the skies had moments of darkness indicating uncertain weather. We saw on our hike back the markers we had missed. We finally recognized on the journey home what the posts on the ground with the miles written on them looked like. Why we did not recognize these markers before was beyond our understanding. We finally came to the conclusion that we just did not know what to look for. We just did not recognize the obvious. Perhaps the disciples had some difficulty recognizing Jesus without his markers in today’s Gospel text.
Luke tells us the story of travelers; two disciples traveling to Emmaus talking and pondering the events of the past three days; these three days being Good Friday, Saturday which would have been their Sabbath and the day of the resurrection. Today’s Gospel text takes us back to the day of the resurrection and reminds us how difficult it was for the disciples of Jesus to “see”, to “recognize” and the “understand” all that had taken place. They remained in a quandary. When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus met a “stranger” they retold the story of the last three days. They were astonished that the “stranger”, the one they did not recognize as Jesus was unaware of the most recent events. The two disciples outlined in a tidy and brief discourse what had happened to the one they did not, at the moment recognize as Jesus. The “stranger “does not identify himself but rather reminds them of the prophecies which had just been fulfilled. The disciples remained….clueless, blind, unable to recognize even then who the stranger was. Scripture tells us that the “eyes (of the disciples) were kept from recognizing him. “Luke 24: 16. The meaning of the word “recognize” goes deeper than just a “visual” I.D. of Jesus. To recognize who this stranger was meant to go to the marrow of one’s soul and accept in faith all that had just be revealed; to accept the reality and depth of the ancient prophecies and to digest and make for yourself a relationship with that which you have just seen. Our disciples in Luke stilled struggled with the obvious.
Last Monday in our Bible Study class on the Book of Exodus the question was posed, “When do you see God?” Initial remarks offered included creation; love between family and friends, and in church. The next question posed was, “When do you see God in Christ?” These answers took a little bit longer and a little more thought. After a brief silence the question was asked, “When do you see Jesus in church?” With that came comments like; we see Jesus in the Music we sing, I see Jesus in the people as they pray for each other, and finally, “I see Jesus when we come together for Communion.”
When DO we see, recognize or experience our God in Christ Jesus? Our disciples had their eyes and I dare say their hearts opened at the breaking of the bread. “Were not our hearts burning within us as he was talking to us on the road; while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Luke 24: 32. They recognized Jesus and had to do something with what they saw. The disciples turned and went back to Jerusalem, their fears squelched, their hearts energized as the exclaimed. “The Lord had risen indeed!” Once recognized, the Lord cannot be contained in one’s self or within a small group; it is a vision, an understanding that goes to the marrow of one’s soul is now seen, what is now joyfully recognized!
The story of the Emmaus walk has become a “marker” for many Christians undergoing, seeking, and hoping for spiritual renewal. “Emmaus walks” are often planned to help open the eyes of the hiker to recognize Jesus in their life. Who among us had not felt blindsided in times of distress and wondered if even God cannot see the road ahead or had left us to wonder on our own? Who among us has felt the assurance of God on the road of life through the love and care of a Christian community; the hymns of praise and worship, and the meal loving shared in humility and joy as we hold the mystery of Christ in our hands and had the sacred memories of our open hearts rekindled? Who among us has seen the God in Christ and been revived? This is a story of renewal worth telling. Let us pray……..