That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Luke 24:13-16
The road to Emmaus must have been lonely and desolate. It’s the road of abandoned hope and broken hearts. It’s the road walked by two disciples on the third day following the crucifixion. Early in the week they greeted Jesus as their king; the future never looked so bright. By week’s end, all hope was lost. Jesus was crucified in shame, his followers were scattered. Instead of the triumph of the Christ, they seemingly witnessed a most horrible defeat. Despair instead of hope had taken hold of their hearts. And so they walked home heartbroken along the Emmaus Road. Yet they were not alone, someone was looking over their shoulder.
Many of us have experienced such a road. We have had a time when our hopes and dreams were shattered. We understand heartbreak and grief can be exhausting. Some can recall wondering if they would ever again experience peace and joy. This is precisely the point when we ought to recognize that feeling that we too are not alone. Someone is looking over our shoulder. Jesus is near.
As the two disciples walked toward their home, a stranger joined them. It was Jesus. He walked with them as they grieved. Opening their minds to the scriptures, Jesus taught them that God’s intent went far beyond the pain of the present day cross; God’s intent is for eternity. He helped them recognize that out of darkness God brings light. Out of despair, God gives hope. Through the Christ, God raises the dead to life.
Finally, Jesus is revealed to the two disciples in Emmaus through the breaking of the bread. For us today, Jesus is revealed in the very same way. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ opens our minds that we might encounter him in scripture. Studying God’s word together, we realize the truth; God sent Jesus into the world in order to save his people from sin and death. Through the bread and wine of the Sacrament, the risen Lord Jesus comes to us with God’s forgiveness and love.
We all walk our own personal Emmaus Road. We all experience some form of tragedy; the loss of a loved one, separation that leads to divorce, loss of employment, loneliness or depression. In times such as these, we are not alone; we are never alone, Christ draws near. This is the Easter message. Easter, is the restoration of hope, the forgiveness of our sins and the joy of salvation. It is the light that dispels all darkness, the life that conquers death. Easter is the reassurance we have when we notice we are not alone. It is the certainty we have when the risen Christ draws near. Easter is the reality of our lives when we ask him to stay with us.
People of God, you are not alone, Christ is with you. Invite him to stay.