Let’s circle back to Jesus’ encounter with two of his followers as they traveled from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus on “that very day” that Jesus was resurrected, Anastasis. As mentioned in the previous post, as they walked the seven-mile route, they had all kinds of time to talk through the events of the previous three days. As they walked, Jesus, whom they didn’t recognize (“their eyes kept from recognizing him”) came alongside them and asked a great leading question: “So, what were you talking about?” (See Luke 24:13-35)
Pausing with downcast faces one of them, Cleopas*, asked Jesus if he was the only person that hadn’t heard what took place in Jerusalem over the previous several days. Jesus asked (maybe with a twinkle in his eye)…
“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who certainly was a prophet, mighty in what he said and did before God and all the people. Our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. And besides all this, some of the women among us amazed us – they went to the tomb early this morning and found no body! They claimed they saw angels or a vision of angels who said he was alive. Others went to the tomb and they were right – there was no body. And we don’t know what to think of all this.” (My paraphrase and I added the last line because you know that’s likely what they were talking about as they walked!)
Jesus followed with another question: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses [Genesis through Deuteronomy] and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
I wonder what he told them? He might have reminded them that when God created the universe and everything in it he said, “It is good.” And after he created the first humans, he said, “It is VERY good.”
Then Adam and Eve ate the ‘apple.’
I suspect Jesus reminded them of God’s call on Abraham – that he and his descendants would become human agents to help Him restore creation, after the apple incident, to its right condition. God’s words to Abraham: “I will bless you so that you can be a blessing to ALL the peoples of the earth” (Genesis 12:1-3). The inauguration of God’s creation rescue mission.
And surely Jesus must have helped them understand, through the scriptures, that the one to redeem Israel, the Christ, would in fact be a suffering servant, not a conquering hero. And the redemption was not to re-establish Israel as a sovereign nation but to jump-start their original mission of being blessed to be a blessing for all peoples.
Whatever Jesus told them, they wanted more. So they invited him to stay with them. During supper, Jesus blessed and broke bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized him. And Jesus vanished. They said to each other…
“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
We wish for those “heartburning” occasions when we sense Jesus’ presence that result in moments when something previously fuzzy comes into focus. Experience tells me that such encounters tend to happen when we least expect them. For me, they seem to take place when I am in conversations with others as we figure out together how to follow Jesus well.
It was “while they were talking and discussing together” that Jesus showed up for Cleopas and his friend – an encouragement for us as we learn to follow Jesus. An encouragement to not forsake gathering with other pilgrims when “we don’t know what to think of all this,” whatever this happens to be. Who knows, Jesus might just show up and give us a sacred “heartburning” moment.
* Some have suggested that Cleopas and his partner could have been Jesus’ aunt and uncle. John, in his gospel, points out those present at Jesus’ crucifixion: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas…(different spelling). See John 10:25.