Friday, 11 April 2008

The Road to Emmaus

Some points on Lk 24:13-35:
  1. The Two disciples are leaving Jerusalem, reversing the determined journey of Jesus to Jerusalem and his death and glorification. (9:51) Their retreat from jerusalem is a symbol of their lack of understanding of the events that have just occurred and the unravelling of their discipleship of the crucified-risen Jesus.

  2. They are disappointed, for they had thought that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel (24:21). Jesus has not met their expectations and hopes. A crucified messiah, in their minds, is not the messiah. (See 1Cor 1:18-25)

  3. They can recite the events of the past few days to the stranger in an almost creed like fashion. (Compare Acts 2:22-24; 10:38) Creed like knowledge of the events is not faith.

  4. And they even know about the resurrection of Jesus. But a crucified-risen messiah does not fit their expectations, and so they are going home.

  5. Jesus' response is twofold. First he teaches them the necessity of his death and glorification, and provides them with a christological reading of the Hebrew Scriptures. (24:26-27) This is more than proof-texting, but a new way of reading and understanding the mission and hope of Israel in the light of the crucified-risen Lord.

  6. The two disciples show the stranger hospitality. In this they follow the example of Jesus, who was hospitable around the table. (7:36-50; 9:12-17)

  7. And then Jesus makes his second response to their misunderstanding of who he is and his mission by breaking the bread. They remember the hospitable Jesus who gave the breaking of the bread added meaning with the words 'This is my body.' (See 22:14-23) Imbued with new meaning, the breaking of the bread proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sure arrival of the kingdom.

  8. After having their eyes opened to the Scriptures and practicing the hospitality of Jesus, and then witnessing the breaking of the bread symbolic of his death and the coming of God's kingdom, they finally understand. Word and sacrament come together, mutually reinforcing one another. (After witnessing the breaking of the bread and Jesus vanishes, they say, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" [24:32])

  9. They return to Jerusalem, retracing their steps and the way of Jesus himself on his way to his death and resurrection. Arriving in jerusalem they hear the proclamation, once again, of the resurrection of Jesus. And this time, knowing the nature of his messiahship, they join by relating how they have come to recognise the crucified-risen Jesus. (24:35)

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