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.
Many of the Resurrection stories have a common theme: those who first saw Jesus were prevented from recognizing him. How are we to understand this? Is Jesus in disguise? Does he somehow look different post-Resurrection than he did pre-Resurrection?
I don’t think Luke is making a point that’s practical as much as it is theological. We are OFTEN prevented from recognizing Jesus by our own unwillingness to see the image of the Divine in the person in front of us. Jesus himself makes this point when he tells the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. The righteous and the unrighteous are both equally confused when Jesus says he appeared to them in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, and the prisoner.
On the road to Emmaus, the disciples likewise seem to want to dismiss this seemingly uneducated, uninformed stranger. “Are you really the only person who hasn’t heard of Jesus of Nazareth?”
At that point, the disciples had a choice. They could dismiss or ignore this stranger – which is exactly what many of us would do in that situation – OR they could take the time to engage the man and to share with them what they knew about Jesus. The fact that they chose the latter made all the difference, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading.
Don’t prevent yourself from encountering Jesus!
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Today, when you are tempted to ignore or dismiss someone because they don’t know what you know or think like you think, stop and consider this story. Consider that it might just be a moment for you to encounter the risen Jesus.
Prayer: God of love, you continue to reveal your presence to those who are ready to see you in the faces of those around them. Help us today to pause long enough to recognize you. Amen.