I have always found the post-resurrection stories in the Gospels fascinating. At the same time unbelievable and totally believable, both other-worldly, and also so grounded in our own world and our own experience. The story of the "Road to Emmaus", as Luke 24:13-35 has become known, is full of truth in my own understanding of the way that Jesus comes to us in our own lives. Beginning with two disciples walking along, not staying in one place, not hiding in fear as the disciples were earlier, going along, outside in the fresh air and they were talking and discussing. The Hebrew for this "talking and discussing" can be translated as "throwing words around"...they were interpreting the last days of Jesus, and the first days of the risen Christ.
They were trying to understand what they had experienced in these past days. And then, in the midst of this wonderful place, in the midst of this conversation (argument?), in the midst of this dynamic moment, Jesus shows up - Jesus shows up as an unknown visitor. Jesus shows up as a fellow traveler on the way. Jesus shows up as as stranger. And Jesus asks them to tell the story, Jesus asks them to share what they have seen and heard. And they tell him the story, they witness, they give testimony to what they had seen and heard.
Mostly, Jesus listens, and the disciples talk. When they finish, Jesus then interprets the story that they have told, and wraps is up in a deep discussion and interpretation of "all the scriptures." Here, Jesus exegetes himself! Pretty amazing. And then, after this teaching, after this interpretation, they welcome him to have dinner, and just as we do in worship, after the scriptures, and the prayers, and the exegesis (sermon), they broke bread "and then their eyes were opened." And then, just as they began to understand and see, Jesus vanishes.
Jesus is always there, but our vision is not always clear. And, at times, we feel his deep deep presence, his tangible reality, but then, seemingly, we can't grasp it as we could a photo, or a recording, or a podcast, or a snapshot. My own understanding of God's grace in my life is that it has clearly always been there, but there have been some tangible and earthy moments when I could very nearly see Jesus with me, but Jesus is not to be caged or grabbed, but is always with us. Just as God's prevenient grace - his Amazing Grace - is always with us, Jesus is with us, guiding us, interpreting our lives for us, and teaching us the ways that our own stories are bound up in the grand story of God.
On our own journey of life, when we find the time to "throw words around" and tell the story of Jesus, and this grand story of God, and break bread and share wine, Jesus becomes tangible to us, and our eyes are opened to the ever-present reality of God in our lives, every moment and every second of our lives.
Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then 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?” He 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But 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.
Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and 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. Some 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.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
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. 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; and he vanished from their sight.
They 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.