Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35 (NIV)
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Growing up I enjoyed activity books that required me to join the dots, in a systematic manner, by intentionally following all the dots in the chronological sequence they were numbered in, in order to produce a picture and thereafter I had the choice to either colour in the picture or not. Did I colour in all the pictures? No. I only coloured in the pictures I liked. In the process I came to learn the following; a). If I did not follow the dots in the sequence they were numbered in, there’d be no picture at the end of my labouring, b). If I got the numbering wrong, the picture would not be correct or clear enough.
In retrospect, I have come to learn that the entire exercise has a valuable lesson of faith and life itself.
Christianity is more than church attendance and the singing of songs. It is about living lives that ultimately reflect or mirror a picture of Christ, firstly for the one who walks the journey of faith and secondly, for those who have an earnest desire of seeing Christ. Where are we to go to see Christ? Those, who profess to be Christians, must see Christ Jesus in themselves and those who are still searching, with desperation for an encounter with God, ought to be able to look into the Church and not only see Christ, but also feel His presence within the church. I want to submit that this is what Christ tried to teach His disciples and in consequence us, in John 12:24 when people eagerly wanted to see him during His earthly life and instead of saying, “Here I am. Let them come forth.” He said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies it produce many seeds.” What strikes me in these words is not only the extent to which Christ reconciled Himself with the death that hung over his head, but also the purpose of His death. In the same way the seed has to die, in the ground to be able to produce, the plant, the fruit and ultimately more seeds, He had to undergo the same process. We are the seeds of Christ! Therefore, in the same way that the seeds of an apple can never produce grapes and the seeds of grapes, the fulfilment of faith should never produce anything else, but Christ.
The Church is founded on faith, principles and doctrine, which we not only need to know and appreciate, but more importantly, we ought to live out. Our thinking, our speaking and our conduct are dots and when we add them up, we must mirror a picture of Christ
In the text we’ve read, we meet up with two persons returning to their home in Emmaus after have gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival, as per Jewish custom. This was just after the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. In addition, it was also after the resurrection. No one had seen Jesus resurrect, but the news were already doing the rounds, emanating from an empty tomb wherein He was buried and the announcement of an angelic character that Jesus Christ is alive and His words fulfilled, as He promised He would rise again. Now the two travelers were discussing all of this amongst themselves and the resurrected Jesus Christ joins them during their walk and they did not recognize him.
However, it was only later on, when the two travelers were sitting at the dinner table and saw Jesus breaking bread with them that they recognized that the very person they were walking and talking with all this time was Jesus Christ. They were witnesses to the reality, totality and glorious resurrection of our Lord and Saviour!
I want to submit, from the text, there is a disconnection we cannot afford as the Church – the Body of Christ, which is the failure of recognizing Jesus, within and amongst ourselves. The two travelers were engaged in a discussion about the sufferings, crucifixion, death and apparent resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were interrogated about the conversation and it is revealed to us that they knew about the person and life of Jesus Christ, by responding to the effect the Jesus was “…a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God.” They knew that His death was a direct result of the intention of the Jewish leaders and Roman authorities. They also knew about the great announcement made by the women who went to the tomb only to find the tomb empty and received confirmation from an angelic being that our Lord has risen and now lives. They knew all this about Christ, yet they did not recognize Him as the one who now stands before them. The dots did not join up. After listening to His words, when He said “…Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory.” They were still unable to join the dots, We cannot afford such a disconnection as a Church. We cannot be found to be knowledgeable about Christ, but then fail to recognize Him. This would be a shame.
No one witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the details of how it happened are not shared with us, but what we do know is that it did happen. The empty tomb testifies for us. The stone to the sealed tomb was rolled over, not in order for Christ Jesus to resurrect, but for the women and later the disciples of Jesus to enter the tomb and know that He indeed has resurrected. When we join the dots for ourselves, through faith, we can only come to the conclusion that Jesus has resurrected, in accordance with His words. Our faith requires us to join the dots in such a manner, not only for us to be saved, but also to have a blessed assurance that Jesus lives. The scriptures go to say, and I paraphrase here to, ‘we must first believe in our hearts and confess with our tongues that Jesus is the Son of God and was resurrected by God’. This should then make us eager to see Christ Jesus within ourselves because we know that He lives.
In addition, if we know that He lives, then we can live lives that speak the same truth. As God’s people, Christian men, and women, we cannot live out our lives as though we believe and worship a dead God – who can neither see, hear not act on our behalf. In the ever test we find ourselves in God sees, He hears our prayers and He can and will act on our behalf and for this we out to be thankful!.
We can join the dots in our own lives through, prayer, fasting and reading God’s Word. Prayer and fasting play an important role in our journey with God; they are means of honoring God and spending time with Him. The more time we spend with God, the more we will become like Him, in our thinking, speaking and doing. We will pick up His character and radiate it through how we live our lives. Prayer not only resolves the conflicts we face when God responds and intervenes, but prayer has the ability to change us – those who spend time with God. Prayer and fasting thus supplies us with the dots we need to add up together. Whereas the reading of God’s Word of God essentially brings instruction and guidance to the one who makes the time to read consciously and through meditation. The Word of God thus becomes the chronological numbering to the dots which we must join, through Christian living in order to produce the picture.
Revelation requires vision.
Christ revealed himself in many ways after the resurrection in order to authenticate His resurrection. Immediately after the resurrection, He found it necessary to appear before His disciples, who had locked themselves us in a room, full of fear and anxiety, as they considered what happened to Jesus and the uncertain future they thought they would now have to face in the absence of their Teacher. Upon His appearance, He presents to them His nail pierced hands and side to show that He is the very one who was crucified. In the Gospel according to St John, it was the miraculous catch of Fish, at the instruction of Christ to His disciples, who had worked the entire night but caught no fish, whilst standing on the seashore, that brought revelation to the fact that Jesus had truly resurrected. In the text, upon which this sermon is premised, it was the breaking of bread by Christ Jesus at the dinner table, which resonates with the miracle in which He broke five loaves of bread in order to feed five thousand men, which was a source of revelation, that opened the eyes of the two travellers to recognize Jesus after the resurrection.
Without vision, the revelation, no matter how glorious and necessary it may be, is worth nothing. Often our vision may be obscured, but many things; perhaps the trials and tribulations we are faced with, our habits and occupations etc. and we are unable to see how the dots should be joined together in order to see the picture of Jesus. Whatever the reason for the hindrance which obscures our vision, we need to overcome for the sake of seeing the intended picture – Jesus! Thus I want to submit, in the same way Jesus was the bread in the hands of God the father, crushed or broken for the redemption and sustentation of the souls of sinners unto everlasting life at the Cross and before the resurrection, our lives are now the bread in the hands of Christ Jesus and are the bread that must be broken to open the eyes of other people and to win their souls unto God. We ought to allow Jesus to break the bread and in consequence break within us all the things which have hindered our vision from seeing how the dots should be joined together to reveal Jesus in the present age. We must allow him to break in us our own stubbornness, our ungodly habits, and negative thinking to such an extent that our vision is no longer obscured from seeing that which God has already revealed unto us and to the extent that those who desire to see Christ Jesus may also see Him in us. A mirror can never portray what is not before it. Christ must be revealed to us – the Church – first before we can reveal him unto the world and win souls unto God!