3rd Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

Luke 24:13-35
(Third Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Richard Lyon

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 would 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.

DIAGNOSIS: On the road to Emmaus…

Step 1 – Initial Diagnosis: Standing still, looking sad
Even when walking, the disciples on the road are not walking with a sense of purpose to any place in particular, even if their direction is Emmaus. Near the surface, even on their lips of conversation about “all these things that had happened” is their unsettling stillness and sadness. And there are reasons for their sadness. If Jesus was the Anointed One, the Messiah, then the power of evil ought to be destroyed. Yet he died a shameful death and evil forces seemed to be in control. If Jesus is who his followers anticipate him to be, then the end of time ought to be taking place and signs should be clearly identifiable, but they do not seem to be. If Jesus is the deliverer, then his own people should be responding in support instead of rejecting him; but now there is only the squelching of the cause and the people.

Step 2 – Advanced Diagnosis: Slow of heart
Not much further under the surface of their sadness, however, is their unbelief. “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” And this unbelief is even in the face of evidence contradictory to their sad-senses — the “third day” following the earlier testimonies of the reconstructed kingdom, and the divine and human messengers of resurrection. Having said that, they betray just how “foolish . . . and how slow of heart” they are not only to believe in their Messiah but even “all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah would suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” The Emmaus travelers are like the people of Israel who could not see God’s way clearly — even at all. All they could see was the hard road they had to travel. Just as the people of Israel had cried out and accused God of deserting them in the Babylonian exile, leaving them to perish on foreign soil, they languished without hope as they deserted Jerusalem, the City of Light, for the crudeness of the village of Emmaus.

Step 3 – Final Diagnosis: Passed by
Hopeless is not the worst problem for these worldly travelers, however. Their most ultimate problem is that God has passed them by, consigning them to their hopelessness. Missing out on messages of their own messengers in the scriptures, they have nothing to give them a light for their journey. There is only the darkness that comes with “evening” and “the day being almost over.”

PROGNOSIS: …Returning to Jerusalem

Step 4 – Initial Prognosis: Staying with us
The day was also dark for the third traveler in their midst, however. And because he has passed through that evening for us, hope is there with the travelers. As this “stranger” begins to re-claim the foolish and supposedly God-forsaken travelers, retelling their history, he points to himself as the focus of the God of History — all the events pertaining thereto. In the night God determined to make full known his presence. Born in Bethlehem, at night, a hard birth, and dying under the shadows of a hard death – a hard road to be sure – Jesus is our Immanuel, “God with us,” who stays with us through the night and sees us through in the breaking of bread.

Step 5 – Advanced Prognosis: Burning hearts
Hope surges again within the hearing hearts of the travelers. As the scriptures are unfolded now, with all of their promising history, and as the presence of the “stranger” is fully known to them in the breaking of bread — the presence of their Messiah, Jesus — their hope is kindled in having Jesus present with them. The purpose of this Messiah all makes sense now — and more importantly, for that Messiah’s sake, so too do their own lives.

Step 6 – Final Diagnosis: Talking about joyous events
With purpose restored to the travelers, now they have something to talk about. Like the tongues of fire at Pentecost, the power came to their hearts. Such power cannot be suppressed. They must go and speak to the people of the earth, to call one and all to die to the old purposes and fading hearts and rising in the new purposes of the promise of forgiveness and hope. And so they share with Simon and with one and all who have ears to hear, on whatever road they are traveling: “The Lord is risen indeed!” And He is Immanuel — “God with us.”


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