Devotional for First Wednesday after Easter: April 15, 2020
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if He were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So He went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, He blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized Him. And then He disappeared.
Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as He opened up the Scriptures for us?”
Luke 24: 28-32. The Message
While this story literally begins on the road, it does not end there. Jesus reveals Himself to his two followers when He is seated with them at an inn. There, He blessed and broke the bread, and gave it to them. It was only at that point in the story that it suddenly all made sense to these two followers: the wisdom this stranger was offering them as He spoke on the road, and the way He blessed and broke the bread. Perhaps the breaking of the bread recalled for them the feeding of the 5,000, where bread was also broken and shared. It is most likely they were among the 5000 people. In any case, all of the sudden, these two followers of Jesus recognized Him.
We celebrate Jesus’ stunning disappearance from the tomb on Easter. Yet His surprising appearance on the walk to Emmaus is also worthy of our attention, since it is written about in Luke’s Gospel. We don’t know much about these two followers, but we know that one of them was named Cleopas. Many believe that the other traveler is Cleopas’ wife, and that they were traveling as a married couple. Jesus didn’t appear only to His tight-knit group. No, He wanted others to be witnesses to His resurrection as well.
When they arrived at Emmaus, their destination, they offered Jesus the gift of hospitality. They invited a stranger in to share a meal with them at the inn. In this day and time, we might not be comfortable with inviting a total stranger to join us for a meal (aside from the Coronavirus). However, by their action of hospitality, they discovered that rather than being the one giving, they were now the ones receiving. God revealed Himself to them. They truly were blessed by giving.
What would have happened if Cleopas and the other follower had simply let Jesus walk on by that evening? We don’t know. Yet thankfully, they didn’t. I believe that they had a sense of connection with this stranger, and they wanted to explore it over a meal. The result was revelatory, and transformational. It is safe to say that these two followers were never the same. Their surprise encounter with the risen Christ changed them forever.
Like these two followers, we all have choices. Will we risk possible rejection, and extend an invitation, or not? Taking the time to open our hearts and reach out to others the proper attitude. It is also helpful to nurture our relationship with God, by spending time with Him, learning about Him, and praying to Him. If asked, I am certain that the two people who walked with Jesus to Emmaus would say that extending to Him the gift of hospitality was the best decision of their lives.
Through this story, we realize that God also wants us to have that welcoming gift towards others. He wants us to realize that we should open our eyes to opportunities to pass on God’s gracious hospitality. May we all be open to seeing the opportunities which God provides to us to share His good news. Christ is risen!
God of surprises,
We confess that at times, we are so caught up in ourselves and all that is going on in our world, that we do not see the needs of others. Like the two followers on the road, we fail to see the opportunities right in front of us, at least initially. Give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, as we go about our daily lives. May we show kindness. May we reach out in love. May we offer the simple gift of hospitality, and friendship, whenever, and wherever possible. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.