This is an extract from Rev Sheila Cameron’s sermon on 23 April, The Third Sunday of Easter, when she was reflecting on the Road to Emmaus Road story told in Luke 24:13–35:
… These followers of Jesus had only one topic of conversation – the dramatic events in Jerusalem in the past few days. The emotions of the characters in the story are described subtly: the travellers looked sad; they were surprised that this stranger had heard nothing of the death of Jesus and they poured out what they’d heard about the empty tomb; they had been stunned by the women’s story. Even Jesus’ body had been taken from them and at this point no-one as yet had seen him alive. They were in shock and grief. They listened keenly as the stranger spoke about the Scriptures and later on they shared with one another how “their hearts had burned within them”: they had been excited and fired up by his exposition of the biblical prophecies – perhaps all of this apparent tragedy had God at its heart after all!
They were reminded of what everybody seemed to have forgotten: the prophecy of a suffering Messiah who would be raised to glory. As the day was drawing to a close, the two travellers asked the stranger to stay the night. “Stay with us,” they pleaded. The prospect of a sleepless night might have been depressing and they found the stranger’s presence comforting. So far, we’re told, “their eyes were kept from recognising him” (v.16). Perhaps this means their eyes were clouded by sorrow and despair, and certainly they wouldn’t have been expecting to meet Jesus alive and well when so many had seen him suffer and die on the cross. Perhaps his clothing was odd; maybe he was wearing a hood, or his face was covered in some way; perhaps he just looked different. Whatever the reason, it’s a story of gradual recognition, like the story in John of the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene in the garden. …
Sheila went on to talk about ways in which, over the centuries, Christians have used the name of this place to signify hope, hospitality and companionship, as well as restoration and transformation. Do read the whole of her sermon at this link.
Our 1632 painting of Supper at Emmaus by Matthias Stom is in the Museum of Grenoble, France and comes from the Christian Art website: the accompanying reflection is well worth reading!