13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Reflection: While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.
This week we will experience the vast spectrum of emotions from deepest sorrow to brightest joy. We will take comfort from the fact that Jesus has embraced the totality of the human experience and can relate to us in compassion. Most importantly, though, we will celebrate these realities with Jesus. My daughters love the Who HQ book series published by Penguin/Random House. They include books with titles such as Who Was [fill in the blank] and Who Is [fill in the blank], covering the life stories of past and present historical figures. Their book on Jesus is titled Who Was Jesus? This has always bothered me, because it should be Is instead of Was!!! Jesus is experiencing Holy Week with us because He is living still!
What a joy to know that the resurrected Jesus comes near us and goes with us daily, just as he did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. We might not see him with our eyes, but we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit (sent to us by the resurrected, ascended, and enthroned Christ) in our hearts, minds, spirits, and so many other ways. Jesus is not just a memory, but a living person experienced and shared by all who receive him. When we face those deepest sorrows and when we experience those brightest joys, we are not alone. Not only does Jesus know their seriousness and weight in some far-off way, but Jesus shares those realities alongside us.
How might life be different if we intentionally practiced the presence of Jesus in our midst? I know of some people who leave a chair open for Christ when they gather. I have opened spiritual direction sessions by having those participating turn toward an unseen presence to acknowledge that Christ is among us. You can cultivate this awareness by pausing and greeting Christ wherever you are. When we welcome others, we can say to them, “The Christ in me welcomes the Christ in you.” There are many ways to intentionally recognize the living presence of Jesus.
It is good to know that we do not have to participate in some elaborate ceremony to access this presence. The Scripture reminds us that Jesus encounters us while we walk, talk, and break bread. In other words, Christ shares the intimate, relaxed moments with us. Remembering this can prevent us from characterizing Jesus in an overly stern manner. Even his words to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, when he says “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!”, becomes less of a rebuke and more of a playful response urging them on to believe. I imagine Jesus saying it to them, not with a shaking finger of disapproval, but with a smile as he places his arm around their shoulders. This is a “Come on guys, don’t you see!?” kind of moment.
Take heart – no matter what, Jesus is still alive today and he walks with you into whatever situations you face. Jesus is not stuck in the past – he is the one who was, is, and always will be. Nothing you face will be faced alone. So meet every new circumstance with a confident proclamation: “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!”
Journaling Focus: When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
The sacramental communion table is a place where we are invited to encounter Jesus in a sacred and special way. Not only does it serve as a reminder of what Jesus has done for us, but it also mystically imparts the grace of God to us. We remember and receive. As we gather in the context of our specific time and space, we are transported into the very presence of Jesus Christ and the very presence of the communion of saints who have gathered, who do gather, and who will gather at the table throughout the world and throughout time. As you write in your journal this week, reflect on the importance of the sacrament of Holy Communion. How have you encountered Jesus Christ at the table? In what ways have you received grace there? How might you “set” the table for others in the ways you live out the grace of Christ outside the physical church building?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
These questions are designed to help make sense of the message of Scripture. They are not designed to overwhelm, but to enlighten. Do not feel as if you need to answer all – or even most – of these questions every week. Perhaps pick one or two that will help you explore the Scripture and its message more deeply.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passage teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Listen to the song, Resurrection Power by Chris Tomlin. Sometimes we forget that the resurrection is for us. God desires that we experience the resurrection in the here and now as we wait for the physical resurrection to come. How does the resurrection give you freedom? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”
Pray during this Holy Week for a revelation from God. Ask God to open your spiritual eyes and reveal the glory of the Risen Lord to you in a special, fresh, and powerful way. Trust that God will allow you to encounter the Resurrected Christ in both big and small ways in the days ahead.
Meditation Focus: As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.
In the ancient world, hospitality was given more attention than we give it in the modern world. To welcome the stranger and invite them to stay with you was a tangible sign of loving-kindness. Our culture needs to recapture this focus on hospitality. Imagine that your life is a home – does it have a welcome sign in front of it? How is your life-home structured in such a way as to be warm and inviting – for both God and others? Imagine that the Resurrected Christ is coming to your life-home for a visit. What is his reaction when he approaches the door of your life-home? Does he feel welcomed or does he feel barred from entering? What must happen in your life-home so that it becomes a place that “strongly urges” visitors to come in and be at peace?
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- Where and how have you seen the Resurrected Christ active?
- How have your eyes been opened to Jesus?
- In what ways have you been surprised by the presence of Christ?
- What is God revealing to you?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Holy Action: Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Take some time to look up one or two of the passages below from the Old Testament. These passages are but a few of the ones that point toward Jesus, either by prophesying about him or connecting with an element of his life story. What does Jesus’s fulfillment of Scripture communicate to you?
- Genesis 3:15
- Genesis 14:18
- Deuteronomy 18:18
- Psalm 22
- Psalm 110:1-4
- Isaiah 53
- Isaiah 61:1-2
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- Zechariah 9:9
Breath Prayer: LORD God, reveal yourself to us.