The Eucharist at Emmaus – Third Sunday of Easter

If we are going to follow Christ throughout our lives, then we need some way of answering the question: How do we recognize the risen Christ?

The recognition is sometimes difficult. Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They travel several miles listening to Christ without recognizing him. Isn’t it true that Christ often comes to us in disguise? We who have experienced sadness and disappointment walk with a Christ we often fail to recognize. But when the disciples shared the meal then they remembered. Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?

I want to share with you some details of Lk 24:13-35

(v. 13). “Two of them” refers back to “the eleven and all the rest” (v. 9). “That very day” refers back to “the first day of the week” in verse 1. This is Easter afternoon—just hours after Jesus rose from the dead. 60 stadia from Jerusalem (a stadium is 607 feet or 184 meters, so 60 stadia would be about 7 miles or 11 km).

      “… that Jesus himself came near, and went with them. But their eyes were kept (ekratounto—held) from recognizing him” (vv. 15-16). The verb is passive, indicating that these two disciples are being acted upon.

The “chief priests and our rulers delivered (Jesus) up to be condemned to death, and crucified him” (v. 20). No mention is made of the Roman authorities or crowds. Luke holds the Jewish leaders responsible for Jesus’ death.

“But we were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel” (v. 21a). For these disciples, “the redemption of Israel meant Israel’s liberation from their enemies.

      “It happened, that when he had sat down at the table with them, (Jesus) took the bread and gave thanks. Breaking it, he gave to them” (v. 30). These are almost exactly the words that Luke used to describe Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper (22:19). Note especially the four verbs: took, gave thanks, broke, and gave. Jesus took these same actions at the feeding of the five thousand (9:12-17).

“Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight” (v. 31) It was God who veiled their eyes, and it is God who unveils them.

“Weren’t our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?” (v. 32). Jesus prepared them for the revelation that would come with the breaking of bread.

 “They rose up that very hour, returned to Jerusalem” (v. 33a). They had to walk seven miles to get to Jerusalem, but their good news energized them for their journey.