Emmaus l Luke 24:13-35 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Several times during the early months of COVID, we hosted a drive-in testing site in our parking lot. Although I had no symptoms, I thought it wise to get tested. So, I walked over to the tent and was immediately greeted by a very friendly woman. She obviously knew me although I didn’t recognize her. She was wearing a Tyvek suit and had two masks on. I could hardly understand what she was saying. But we bumped elbows, chatted amiably and then she jammed that thing up my nose like a toilet plunger.
When I got back inside, I mentioned to my brother-in-law, Dan Griswold, that I had been tested. He said, “Oh. Did you see Dana?” “Who?” I asked. “Dana…my wife…your sister? Did you see her?” “Was she out there?” I asked. “Uhhh…yeah. She did your test!” I had no clue it was my sister who was shoving that very long Q-tip way up into my brain. If I had, I might have asked her to recuse herself!
This morning we continue in Luke’s account of Easter. And Luke shares with us a story unique to his gospel. A story of two people…on a walk…who encounter a stranger that they should have recognized…but they didn’t have a clue who he was!
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were 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. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Luke 13-16
First, when did this story take place? On “…that very day.” What “very day” is he talking about? Easter Sunday afternoon. Let’s just pause here for a moment. Earlier that morning, Jesus was lying in a borrowed tomb, dead as a doornail. But sometime in the early morning darkness, God breathed life back into him. He gasped, opened his eyes, and got up. This is the moment that changed eternity! The Son of God raised to life after being executed on a cross. So…this is a big day in Jesus’ career, wouldn’t you agree?
Surely…on Day One of his Resurrection, Jesus will have a full schedule. Lots of appearances to prove he really is alive. How about standing on the Pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem for starters? Or a return to the hill in Galilee where he preached his greatest sermon to thousands of people? But first…first would be the disciples, right? His hand-picked inner circle. Surely…the first thing on Jesus’ Resurrection Day agenda will be a meet and greet with Peter and James and John and all the rest… right?
Nope! Before Jesus even appears to the disciples, the newly-risen Son of God chooses to spend his first resurrection afternoon…walking on a road with two strangers. We know nothing about them. One is named Cleopas. Besides that…nothing. They were nobodies in the gospel story. We’re not even sure they were both men; some think this was a husband and wife walking back home together. And after this story, they disappear into the mists of history. We never see them again.
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus would prioritize his time this way? Easter Day. Walking, talking, eating…with two people who don’t even recognize him. And it’s not a ten-minute appointment. They walked seven miles! That took a couple of hours…and then, dinner. Three…maybe four hours out of the most important day in the history of the world…Jesus chose to spend…hanging out with two nobodies.
Except…they weren’t nobodies to Jesus, were they? They mattered to him. We don’t know the second person’s name; but Jesus did. We don’t know their story; Jesus took the time to listen. For us Type-A, fill up your schedule, plan your work and work your plan types…this is a very wasteful use of the greatest Grand Opening in history…the grand opening of Jesus’ tomb. But Jesus didn’t think it was wasteful at all.
I wonder…is there anyone here this morning who feels like a spiritual nobody? You can’t imagine Jesus knows you; cares about you; has the time of day for you. After all, he’s got a universe to run; a messed-up world that needs his attention. Who has time for a nobody like you? This story says…Jesus does! You are not a nobody to Jesus. You…and you…and you…all of you matter deeply to him. Do you need to hear that this Sunday after Easter? Jesus knows your name; knows your story; and you matter to him!
Let’s keep reading.