Emmaus by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Easter season has passed. Colorful baskets are bubble-wrapped and stored in plastic containers, chocolate marshmallows have done their diet damage, and pastel, church clothes are washed and hung for the next dress-up event. Ham and scalloped potato leftovers have been devoured, the Easter bunny has started his/her 12-month hibernation, and soon 4th of July gizmos will begin appearing in store windows. We move on. Jesus did too. Three days after his death he joined two faith-shaken men—one named Cleopas and one unnamed– in their walk home after witnessing the crucifixion of the one they trusted would save them from the Romans. Seven miles outside of Jerusalem a stranger joined them and questioned their grief. Stopping in their tracks, one said to the outsider, “You must be a visitor to Jerusalem. If you lived there, you would know the things that have happened there in the last few days.” After all, anybody who was anybody had heard of the crucifixion… anybody, it appeared, except this man. So, they filled him in on the details of the empty tomb. As one pastor preached this past Sunday, “Nobody saw no body in the tomb.” What they didn’t know was the stranger walking alongside them was the very one about whom they spoke. I love the irony: “Are you the only one who does not know…?” when they are addressing the only one who really does know! (Filling Jesus in on his death is sort of like me explaining electrons to Albert Einstein.) The stranger confronted them. “How foolish you are! How long it takes you to believe all that the prophets said! Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things and then receive His glory?” Beginning with Moses, he explained to them how the one crucified fulfilled death and resurrection prophecies made thousands of years before. (Since there are over 300 such prophecies in the Old Testament, I assume Jesus shared only the most relevant ones.) Wanting to hear more, the men begged this learned man to join them at their home for dinner. It was there Jesus broke bread, and the pair’s eyes were open to recognize their Savior, very much alive and reclining at their kitchen table. Once Jesus left, they couldn’t wait to share the good news (Is it any wonder that “Gospel” means “Good News”?) with Jesus’ closest followers, the disciples, so they sprinted back to Jerusalem to relive their encounter with their Risen Lord. So, let’s backtrack to look at a few hidden nuggets in this scripture. Did you ever question why only one of the traveler’s names is given? Some speculate that this was intentional so that we would put ourselves in the place of the nameless journeyman. If so, we should imagine the joy experienced when the once-downtrodden men realize that they have witnessed the unthinkable. The story in which they are partnering has a new beginning. The grave is empty because Jesus is alive! And they are in the elite group to witness the miracle first-hand. I wonder how many of us, like the two men, “miss” Jesus. We expect him to show up at a Sunday morning church service or a trip to a mission field, but not right beside us as a fellow sojourner. If we’re not alert and ready, we won’t take the time to invite him into our lives, and we will keep hopelessly strolling down the road without recognizing his presence. Instead, let us keep Easter season alive. Let us expect Jesus to join us in our daily walk so that we never miss an opportunity to spread the “Good News.”

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