Emmaus: The Road to Hope (based on Luke 24)

I’d not slept a wink for two nights, not since our hopes were ripped to shreds by the Temple authorities and the Roman killing machine.  I was still in shock in all honesty – all had happened so quickly. Could it be less than a week since Jesus had come in triumph to Jerusalem, acclaimed as the King he so clearly was? How was it possible that he was dead, just five days later?  I was mulling over this when I heard a commotion from downstairs.  Bleary eyed, I pulled on my clothes and went out to find out what was going on.

The two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary, my wife, were there and the disciples were huddled around them. Everyone looked flustered.  Peter was 

“It’s empty, you’re absolutely sure about this?” – that was Peter.

“Yes, we’re sure.”

“Empty?”

“Yes!”

“And you are absolutely sure you went to the right place.”

“Yes!” replied, Mary Magdalene – you could tell she was exasperated. “We watched as they took down Jesus’s body from the cross, and we followed those two Jerusalem disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus … all the way to the tomb.  We saw them lay him there.  We saw them seal the tomb with that great stone.  We saw everything.  The tomb is empty, we’re telling you!”

Peter and the others stood, hands on hips, shaking their heads. “But where’s his body then?” 

Mary Magdalene replied, “We already told you, The angels told us he’s alive. He is risen!”  You could tell she was upset.  

“Well, I don’t believe it.” Thomas exclaimed, “It’s nonsense.  Dead men don’t rise from the dead.”

Then Peter spoke up, “I’m going to go to see for myself – anyone else coming with me?”

John replied, “I’ll go, although there shouldn’t be too many of us, it’s not safe.”

“I’m coming with you,” said Mary Magdalene.

And so they left.  Peter and John came back about half an hour later and said that the women’s story was true – the tomb was empty.  But there was no sign of Jesus anywhere.  Where was his body?

We simply didn’t know what to do.  One thing I was sure of, I couldn’t just stay all day waiting.  Life had to move on.  I needed to get out, to clear my head.  I found my wife, Mary, “I’m going to head home for a bit, check everything’s ok.  I won’t stay long.”

“Ok, darling, take Simeon with you.  You could probably do with the company.”

So, Simeon and I trudged off together.  We relaxed as soon as we left the confines of the city, less worried about people following us.  We filled the time talking about everything that had happened that whirlwind week.  We were so engrossed that it was a while before we noticed we had company on the road, as a man drew up beside us.  We couldn’t see his face, because he was wearing a hood, for protection from the dust and dirt.

“What are you talking about together as you walk along?” he asked?

We stopped and our heads hung low.  “Don’t you know what’s been happening in Jerusalem in the past few days?  You’re probably the only visitor who hasn’t heard about it.

“Heard about what?” the stranger asked, apparently nonplussed.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” I answered. “He was a prophet who said and did many powerful things before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.  The thing is, we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. It’s now three days since all this took place. 

Then, to cap it all, some of the women in our group amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

To say we weren’t expecting the next bit was an understatement.  “You’re so foolish! So slow! Why can’t you believe everything the prophets spoke about?”  The Messiah had to suffer these things and then enter his glory – it had to be this way.”  And the stranger started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to the Messiah.

Before we knew it, we had nearly arrived at the village.  “We’re nearly home,” I said, 

“Oh,” said the man, “I’m continuing on.”

“Please don’t”, I replied, “Come in and stay with us.  It’s nearly evening – the day’s almost over. Please stay.”

The man agreed.

We went in and I hastily prepared some food for us and our guest.  I was in a daze.  What an extraordinary walk that had been.

We sat down together, and the man took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to us.

And suddenly, in a flood of joy and amazement, it all became clear.  It was Jesus! He’d been walking with us all along! How hadn’t we seen it? 

Then, Jesus disappeared.  Vanished before our eyes.

We sat, looking at each other for a monent, speechless. 

“That was – “ Simeon started, 

“Jesus, I know,” I finished for him. “When he was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us, it was incredible, my heart felt like it was on fire!”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Simeon exclaimed, “We have to go back to Jerusalem to tell the others.”

And so we got up straightaway and almost ran back to where the disciples were all gathered.  We’d met with the risen Jesus; impossibly wonderfully, he was alive.  If we hadn’t witnessed him breaking the bread, we wouldn’t have believed it.  I wondered what the others would say, and if they’d believe us, but I neededn’t have worried.  There was an utter transformation in the room. 

“It’s true!” John almost shouted, “The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

We exchanged our stories of transformation.  The Lord has risen, and he’s changed everything.  What a difference a day makes!

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