13 On that same day, two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. 15 While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. 16 They were prevented from recognizing him.
17 He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast.
18 The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days?”
19 He said to them, “What things?”
They said to him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet. 20 But our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel. All these things happened three days ago. 22 But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they had even seen a vision of angels who told them he is alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said. They didn’t see him.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. 26 Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets.
28 When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. 29 But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.
Most of the time we don’t recognize an experience for what it was until it’s over.
We often walk away from something powerful, emotional, and affecting without having understood its true significance. Sometimes that’s a good thing – it’s because we were so utterly captivated by the moment that we had no ability to think about anything else.
Other times, it’s exactly the opposite. We miss what’s happening because we’re too busy trying to analyze it, critique it, photograph it, or video it.
The scene at Emmaus is one of those moments for the disciples. They are so taken aback by the fact that there’s someone in Jerusalem who hadn’t heard about Jesus that they keep going on and on, explaining everything that happened.
They did this not knowing that this stranger they were sharing the story with was Jesus himself. Do you think they felt a little foolish after? I imagine so.
Emmaus is a lesson to us in the power of presence. To be fully present in a place, to be fully present with people, is to have your eyes opened to witness God at work right in front of you.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
When in your life have you been fully present to God? When have you had an experience where God seemed so undeniably real to you? Did you find your faith wavering after? Do you think the disciples did in the moment after Jesus disappeared?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, after you rose from the dead, you surprised your disciples by showing up in places unannounced. You still surprise us by showing up where we least expect you: by turning chance encounters into deep conversations, strangers into dear friends, and our wounds into opportunities for growth. Open our eyes to see you this day. Amen.
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