It was when they were DOWNCAST that Jesus comes up; when they were afraid, when they were tired, when they had lost hope ….. at the very moment when they are most alone – he is there by their side.
He walks by their side; not in-front of them, not behind them – he does not rush by – a ‘ship in the night’ – he does not ‘excuse me’ and sneak past, – an absolute stranger and he does the most crazy of things – he comes up to perfect strangers and WALKS BY THEIR SIDE.
But: something prevents them from recognising Him.
Do we come as a guest to the people in our lives?
He engages them – he invites relationship. He gives them the power – what are YOU talking about? He comes as guest. He invites them to share their story. He empowers!
Seven miles!!!!! 11.263 kilometres!!!!!!!!!! Not just a stroll down by the lake. Not just ‘down to the shop for some milk.’ It is a long journey – the journey inward – the longest, the hardest and THE only journey that matters. Like all journeys it has its ups and its downs. And HE WALKS BY THEIR SIDE FOR EVERY BLESSED YARD – METER OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!! His brotherhood is no flash in the pan brotherhood nor God’s sisterhood on our journey.
And what does he do – what does he do – he shares THE Jesus story with them – and in doing so “did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the road?” When you truly share story – when you come as guest, when you are ‘on fire’ with love – people’s hearts burn.
They arrive – we often think we have arrived on our journey – we often live for the arrivals – for the answers – for the end – for the comfort of the inn – for the comfort of easy answers – but life IS A JOURNEY and there are no arrivals really … They go in – to their place, they go in to security, they go in to rest on the journey … and he – a pilgrim, he, a journeyer – he makes as if to go on. They pressed Him to stay with them.
Why did they PRESS, urge, invite, beg …. This complete stranger to come into table with them? Has something in them shifted? Are they the same people that first met him on the road? Have their eyes and hearts shifted? Are they more open? They risk hospitality to a stranger – why?
Perhaps the stranger has come as guest. Perhaps he has ‘hosted them’. Perhaps he has invited them to share story and they felt safe sharing it. Perhaps he was deeply PRESENT. Perhaps his presence said, “You are lovable, you are special, you need not fear – be love for our world – and know that I, know that love – walks with you.”
So what does this Jesus – this stranger do? He accepted their invitation. Perhaps all our God is longing for, perhaps all God wants is our invitation – he will do the rest. Our God does not ask perfection – does not ask for strength – does not ask for answers – just the invitation to walk beside us.
He BROKE BREAD. Jesus did the most simple of things – he did what any host would do – at table he broke open the bread of life – why do you break bread – to share it!!!!
And what happened when he shared? What happened after they journeyed together? What happened after walking together over rough ground and up hills and down valleys and through hostile country? What happened after they had shared story? What happened after he had come as guest? What happened after great fidelity?
Their eyes were opened.
Their eyes were opened and they recognised Him. They recognised Jesus – they saw the presence of God, the presence of love in their lives – on their journey – in their midst – right under their noses – and not only that – within them – for “did not our hearts burn within us.” Despite all of this – they had not recognised Him on the road, had not recognise Him as he listened – had not recognised Him even when he “Explained the Scriptures to us!” They recognised him after they had invited him in, after he sat down to table with them and after he broke and shared bread.
And so now – after all of this what do they do? Do they break open another bottle of red from the Emmaus Bottleshop? Do they go back to their rooms and light a candle and say, “Wow, what a trip was that!” Do they navel gaze? Do they take a photo of the table and label it, “the place where we met the risen Jesus!” Do they form a prayer group in Emmaus? Do they begin a cult of pilgrims to the Emmaus inn? No ………………
They set out THAT INSTANT and returned to Jerusalem. Remember it is night by now – so in the dark of night – for 11.263 km, no street lamps, in rough country noted for its brigands, no big McDonald Neon lights, no Holden Commodore …. Just them and the un-named donkey that probably walked with them and is now taken away from his sack of maize …… they set out on MISSION; with Good News. “He is Risen Indeed – he lives – he is Love!”