ONE of the most famous post-resurrection appearances of the risen Jesus is his meeting with two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The two of them are downcast as they talk about all that has happened in the preceding days, and they relate this to the unknown traveller who joins them. The friend and teacher in whom they had invested so much had been taken away from them, and his band of followers had broken up in defeat.
But Jesus unpacks Scripture for them and when he breaks bread for them, their eyes are opened, and they suddenly recognise him. The encounter is so transformative that they rush back to Jerusalem to find the eleven: “Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24: 13-35).
Many Christians today still have similar experiences. We meet with Christ when we dwell in the Scriptures, when we meet with one another, and when we break bread together. But there are also times when, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we fail to recognise Jesus even when he is walking alongside us.
Do we see him in the face of the person with whom we profoundly disagree, or the face of someone completely different to us?
Do we treat one another as if we are meeting with Christ? What the story of the encounter on the road to Emmaus expresses is our need of one another and the importance of travelling well together. The very word ‘companion’ has its meaning in the Old French ‘compaignon’, literally ‘one who breaks bread with another’.
The Christian journey is not one that we can undertake alone, but only with God and with one another. Through God’s grace, we are part of one body and each part of that body needs the other. It is together that we are sent out to love and serve the world, together that we build the kingdom of God, in the name of our risen Lord.
31 March 2023
We praise and bless you, our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory, for you breathed new life into your astonished disciples.
As you turned unutterable grief into unshakeable joy,
so renew and refresh your turbulent world
and establish now your reign of peace.
To you, Lord Jesus,
transforming the pain of death into the fullness of life, be honour and glory, now and for ever.
Common Worship: Times and Seasons © Archbishops Council 2006