The Road to Emmaus

Acts 2:14, 22-33
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This is the third Sunday of Easter. Today, our Gospel story is one that is well known to most, about the road to Emmaus. Sometimes, people refer to the story just as that, the story of the road to Emmaus. What I just read to you, what happens is, two of the disciples are traveling to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Somebody comes along and starts talking to them. This person appears to not know what’s happened – the biggest thing that’s happened ever, the death of Christ – and so the two of them tell him about it. He starts to talk to them. Don’t you believe in what all the prophets have said about this very event? He begins to disclose to them all of the things that refer to Him in Scripture. They convince him to stay with them, and he sits down at table with them and he breaks bread, and gives the blessing. Then suddenly they realize this is Jesus! This is the Risen Christ!

They had been told about this – what we read last week, the two Marys went to the tomb and saw Him not there, and the others come and see what happened. Peter and John are there and they see the empty tomb. We’ve been talking about this for the last couple of weeks. Now, we see another story about a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus.

The big point that I want to make this week, in talking to you about our Gospel message is that very thing that happens in this story of the road to Emmaus for these two disciples — that of coming to recognize Jesus. They suddenly recognized who He was. This happens in a lot of these post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. There’s somebody and they don’t realize who it is, and then *poof* they realize, oh, it’s Jesus. And so that’s what happens here.

We all have a story like this in our lives, where we, at some point, came to understand who Jesus was; where we came to recognize Jesus for ourselves. This happens to everyone of us. For some of us, it may happen in an instant. We may suddenly have an insight, an epiphany, where we realize Jesus is the Son of God. He really did die for my sins. He really is watching over us. He really does love every one of us, even me! Some of us have that kind of epiphany. For others, it’s something that happens over a long period of time, as we grow and mature in our faith and we come to recognize who Christ is. However it happens for us, it happens for us. It continues to develop throughout our lives. As we continue to grow and mature in our faith, we recognize Jesus more and more clearly. This is what I want to focus on today.

There is a second aspect of the story that I want to point out to everybody. Look at what happens in the story – it’s not just that they come to recognize Jesus. It’s the fact that He is with them. Jesus is with them! They’re downtrodden, they’re unhappy. Their leader, their teacher, their friend, their God has been killed in a terrible way and they’re lost. They’re sad about this, but then, there He is. Suddenly He is with them. They realize, He is with us!

And that’s another thing, too, and it’s a part of this coming to recognize Jesus, is recognizing that Jesus is with us. I say this often, we are never alone. Jesus is always with us. In fellowship these two disciples came to recognize Him. This is a reason why we celebrate together. I often say, too, the Christian faith is not something that we do alone, it is something that we do together. Of course, right now, we’re not all together because of the public health crisis. This is a source of great sadness for us. But even right now, Christ is with us! Christ is with us, where two or more are gathered together in His name, there He will be in the midst of them. We have that. You have that, too, because as one of the Christian faithful, Jesus Christ is always with you. You are never alone.

Yet a third point I want to make is this – we can manifest Christ to others, because Christ dwells within us. Christ is always with us, because Christ dwells within us. Christ is in our hearts and from our hearts can shine forth His love to others.

The first reading for today was from Acts of the Apostles. This was a speech that Peter makes on the day of Pentecost. All the disciples and other Jews are gathered together for the Jewish feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem. We’ll get to Pentecost soon enough. We will celebrate Pentecost. But this is the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete, that Jesus had told them would follow His death and Ascension. This reading for today is this part of the story of Pentecost, Peter making this speech. A major point of this part of the speech is he’s telling the people that God revealed Himself to us in Christ. God revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and we can reveal Christ other people and ourselves, but first we have to recognize Christ for who He is. We have to recognize Jesus as our Lord, as our Savior, as our God. A God who is always present with us and who loves us; loves us so much that He was willing to die on the cross to save us from our sins, to atone for our sins.

We’re all getting lots of quiet time right now. We can let it get to us, we can let it get us down, or we can try to use it. I want to encourage you today to try and use this quiet time that you have to grow closer to God. How can you do that with all this quiet time? You can use some of this time for prayer, for meditation, for study, and for reflection on God’s word. You can use this time to recognize Christ and His presence with you, and to recognize Christ for who He is. To sense the presence of God with you, to become aware that Jesus is with you. You do this through doing those things. When you pray, when you meditate, when you study, and when you reflect, you become aware of the presence of God. I will say, this is one of the strongest sources of my faith, those moments when I really, genuinely am aware of the presence of God with me right then at that moment. And you can do that! You can do that through, especially, asking God to let you see Him through doing those things.

We can find good in almost any situation. There are many, many stories like this in Scripture that show us how something good came out of something negative. Use this time, negative as it is in many ways, to draw closer to God. Use this time to do those things that help you recognize Christ for who He is.



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