The space for you and me

We have been celebrating the death and the resurrection of Jesus despite the lockdown

Jon Reeves | 09:30, 26 April 2020

Covid-19This morning I want to continue thinking about the resurrection of Jesus, and the impact that it has on our lives this side of Easter Sunday.

Let's look at an event that turned downcast and defeated disciples into confident and convicted followers of the Risen Jesus. Luke's account is found in chapter 24, verses 13 to 35:

Now that same day [meaning it was still Easter Sunday] two of the disciples were going into a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast.

One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

"What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women 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."

He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

These two disciples epitomized the state of mind of all the other disciples following the death of Jesus. They were downcast and in despair. This had been the worst weekend of their lives. All their hopes and their dreams had been crushed. They were desperately trying to process the events and their emotions; trying to make sense of it all. As they journeyed, the risen Jesus joined them, unrecognised. When the stranger asks them what they had been talking about. Cleopas' incredulous response was on the lines of: 'Seriously? How come you don't know the things that have been happening over the last few days?" To draw them out, Jesus asks "What things?" The pair began to update him, explaining who Jesus was, his death by crucifixion, and the unexpected discovery of an empty tomb. They also disclosed how their hopes of Jesus, as being the promised Messiah, had perished with him.

these two disciples had ... failed to grasp the truth about Jesus

Luke's account emphasises that these two disciples had all the facts in front of them, yet had failed to grasp the truth about Jesus. There hopes were for Jesus being crowned as an earthly king of the Jews. Jesus doesn't just provide them with further evidence of his resurrection, but takes them back to the scriptures concerning himself and how it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then enter his glory.

Now, if the journey was seven miles and they walked at a leisurely pace of two miles an hour, they would have had a 3½ hour bible study with Jesus. What an amazing study that must have been. One pastor puts it this way: as the darkness of evening was setting in around them the light of understanding was dawning within them. And as their minds were opened to the truths of the gospel, so too were their eyes as they saw Jesus breaking bread.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was always God's plan.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was always God's plan. Jesus' redemption of his people was on a much, much larger scale than they'd ever imagined. Luke includes this account not to provide more evidence of the resurrection, but to stress the importance of the scriptures as a basis for belief in the resurrection. We too can see Jesus through the scriptures without a physical encounter with him, and understand and experience the glorious reality of the Christian faith, its facts, its meaning, and its application to our lives.

Supper at Emmaus (Caravaggio, London)The National Gallery in London houses Caravaggio's famous painting of the Supper at Emmaus. It depicts the very moment that Jesus reveals himself to the two disciples. One of them is almost exploding from his chair in excitement, whilst the other has his arms wide open in astonishment, Their minds are blown as they suddenly see the resurrected Jesus in front of them. But the wonderful thing about the painting is that the artist includes an empty space at the table. Why is that? It is the space left there for you and me as Jesus invites us to become his disciple.

Will we respond to that invitation and, if we do, what does that mean for the way we live our lives?

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