Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:13-35: Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Summary – This passage explains an occurrence that happened on Easter day. As the two men traveled, departing from Jerusalem, talking about all that had happened (i.e., in Holy Week). They were disappointed that Jesus did not turn out to be the Messiah. Then Jesus himself, though they did not know it, begins to travel with them. Jesus explains to them from all of the Scriptures that the Christ must suffer and die and rise again. They reported their hearts burned within them as they heard the Scriptures explained. The key text is the last in the reading, it was only when Jesus gave thanks for the bread that they recognized Him.
Insight – I used to read this passage as though it was just a random appearance of Jesus to give a Bible lesson and show that He was raised. But this famous Emmaus Road narrative fits into Luke’s Gospel and Acts in a much more profound way. The last time Jesus broke bread was at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19). In this paradigmatic text (Luke 24:30ff), we find the next step. Beyond the sabbath, on the Day of Resurrection, Jesus meets with His disciples on the first day of the week. The place of His presence was the Table. Luke 24 proves that Jesus fulfilled His promise of being with His disciples on the other side of His cross when He said He would not be at the Table again “until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18). The disciples then realized, “He was known to them in the breaking of bread.” Today we have largely forgotten that which the early Church learned well. The summary of church life is, “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Thus this act, which we call communion, was the normative action of believers in congregation. They continued “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42, 46) and the explicit connection of congregating on Sunday to celebrate the Table. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7). Like those on the road, may we practice His presence and may our eyes also be opened in the breaking of the bread.
Child’s Catechism – How was Jesus known to these disciples? He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Discussion – Since Jesus could have made Himself known at anytime, why did He only do so at the table?
Prayer – Collect for Third Sunday of Easter – O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.