The Supper at Emmaus: God is With Us

Luke 24:13-35

We have a desire to draw near to God…sometimes. God has a desire to draw near to us all the time.

God is always present in our lives. Sometimes he may seem hidden, sometimes he may seem hard to find, but he's always there. And in the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we have an epic example of God’s unfailing presence in our lives.

Let’s go through this story together. Since it is a bit long, we’ll pause as we go through it to explore some of its key lessons. Pay close attention to all the ways God’s presence is active in the story.

“That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them.”

So there's two incredibly powerful things here already. First, notice the disciples are walking away from Jerusalem. Jesus, their friend, their teacher, their savior has just died an unjust death. They believed he had come to redeem the world but, from their perspective, his death is a crushing blow. Whether they are driven by fear for their lives or the disappointment of their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, they are walking away from the other disciples and from the last place they encountered Jesus. 

Have you ever been disappointed in God’s plan for you? How are you walking away from him right now? When you are confused and afraid, is your tendency to run toward God or away from him?

The second thing to notice is the line, “When Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” 

God yearns to draw near to us. Even when we don't yearn to draw nearer to him, he's constantly drawing nearer to us. Even when we are full of uncertainty, disappointment, frustration and fear, God comes to walk alongside us.

“But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

You could spend the rest of your life thinking and praying about this one line. Often we are blind to God’s presence in our lives. What is keeping you from recognizing God’s presence in your life right now? Are you distracted by trivial things? Are you too busy to spend time with him? Is there a source of stress or anxiety you have yet to lay at his feet?

Then, after the two men explain to Jesus all that took place the previous three days, Jesus responds by saying: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

It’s easy to read this part of the story and think that Jesus is condemning the disciples for not understanding his role in the salvation of the world when he calls them “foolish men”. But his response to their confusion and despair is actually one of compassion. He breaks open the Scriptures for them. While they are wondering how it is even possible for Jesus to resurrect from the dead and whether to still believe in him, Jesus takes the time to walk them through exactly how this was all meant to happen the way it did.

What is your relationship with the Scriptures? Do you turn to God’s word in times of distress? Have you let the word of God sink deep roots into your life? Perhaps we so often feel like God is not present in our lives because we forget to go to the places he promises to always be.

Next, they ask Jesus to stay with them. Even though they're unaware that this is Jesus before them, they sense he is someone special.

When was the last time you said to Jesus, “stay with me”? When was the last time you invited Jesus powerfully into your life? God always yearns to draw near to us, but we still have to open the door of our hearts to him.

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.”

Their eyes were opened. And how does it happen? Through the Eucharist. Jesus has walked with them on the road, he’s been revealed to them in the Scriptures, but it is through the breaking of bread that they finally come to see his true presence.

In what way do you need your eyes to be opened today? In what ways do you need God to open your eyes to His presence in your life? To His blessings in your life? To the providence that might be in a circumstance or a situation that you're experiencing right now that maybe you resent? Whatever it is, what do you think will happen if you bring it to Jesus in the Eucharist?

Now we come to the end of the story. “And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together. And those who were with them, who said the Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon. Then they told him what had happened to them on the road to Emmaus and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

They didn't stay still. They didn't say “Oh, that's a great experience. Let's get a good night's sleep.” One of the things we notice over and over throughout the gospel is they are people of action. When people get touched by the gospel, they act, they don't wait to act. Jesus called the disciples. They didn't say, “Well, give us three days to think about it, and we’ll get back to you.” No, he invited them to follow him and they left everything and they followed him immediately. The gospel is a gospel of thought. It's a gospel of reflection. It's a gospel of prayer, but it is also a gospel of bold action.

What bold action is God inviting you to take in your life right now? How is he inviting you to trust him more fully and follow him beyond your comfort zone?

God is with us. That is the message of this powerful story. God is with us. He’s there walking alongside us in the moments and circumstances of our day. He’s there in the scriptures, speaking to our hearts. And he’s there in the Eucharist, waiting to enter our souls.

Let's ask him to open our eyes so we can recognize him a little bit more today.

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