Luke 24:13-35 Acts 2:14a; 36-41
Easter 3 – The Road to Emmaus
I have in my dining room window, a stained glass picture of Jesus at table, with the two walkers he met on the road to Emmaus. It shows the moment that the two recognise Jesus, with the quote underneath: ‘And their eyes were opened, and they recognised him.’
This picture used to be in a panel of a vestibule door in the house of my father’s cousin, who was quite a bit older than him, and it came to me after he and his wife had passed away. It was a nice picture to have in the inner door to their house; reminding visitors of the meaning of hospitality, as well as what it means to have Jesus as a guest and a host. For that, it was in a good spot, as the light would always shine through it from both sides…. You could never miss it.
In this time of seclusion, it may be hard to remember what it was like to go into someone else’s home and be a guest, or to host a meal for others. We miss the congeniality and warmth of sharing a meal together. When he was in his teens, my son in particular always wanted our dinners to be times of going through the events of the day. Sometimes, as it could go on a bit, I wasn’t always sure whether it was a means to get out of the washing up! But I’m more inclined now to give him the benefit of the doubt…
But it’s true, isn’t it, that when we share food, we also share parts of ourselves; it’s about the conversation that we have that makes our time together precious - although I would also say that I enjoy someone else’s cooking, as it’s often better than mine…
So, this passage from Luke 24, the Road to Emmaus, with the meal of recognition, is of significant importance. There’s so much in it to reflect on, so much to learn from it, that it’s not even easy to stick to one point. But I’ll try… Let’s look first of all to the meal: doesn’t it just echo another meal: the first one that’s recorded in Genesis 3 – ‘The woman took of the fruit, and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.’ It was the beginning of the problems that human life was facing, putting the whole creation under the yoke of decay, sorrow and death.
Now, here in Luke’s record of Jesus breaking bread, blessing it, and giving it to the others after the resurrection, a similar thing happens, but in a redemptive way: ‘Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him.’ It is now assumed that the couple at Emmaus were probably husband and wife, Cleopas and Mary – and they discover in that moment that the long curse of Genesis has been broken. God’s new creation is overflowing with life and joy, destroying and defeating death and sorrow. Where first there was only darkness, now the light shines.
Jesus himself, risen from the dead, is the sign of a new world; not just alive in the same way he was before, like the people Jesus raised during his ministry, but new and transformed. As if he’d gone through death and come out the other end. In the moment of recognition at the meal at Emmaus, this couple’s eyes were opened to a new reality. The light began to shine again for them; it changed their situation, their outlook, their lives. Perhaps it was a bit like my stained glass picture: you can ever only see stained glass pictures properly when the light shines through. And the eyes of our hearts also need light shining through, the light of faith, so that we are able to see the risen Christ. This is the one who came and gave himself for us, and who was recognised in the breaking of the bread. May we too see him anew as we allow him to shine through our lives and give us new life in him. Amen.