Easter 3A, 26 Apr 2020

Dear friends, we’re told that the village of Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem. The two disciples we meet today were heading away from Jerusalem, escaping Jerusalem. Jesus of Nazareth, the person they put their hopes in, the one they followed, the one whom they saw preach, and teach, and heal and forgive, had been cruelly crucified. Everything seemed to have gone wrong. It had call come to nothing. Their last sight of the Lord Jesus was of Him handing on the cross in agony. These two disciples are frightened and upset. And so they do what many of us would do when we’re afraid, they runaway and head for home. They’ve heard rumours that Jesus is alive, but they’ve seen nothing. And so, with faces downcast, they flee.

It’s into their desolation, it’s into their isolation, that the Lord Jesus enters. Risen from the dead He walks alongside them. First of all as a silent presence. He listens to them; He asks them questions; He shares their story; He explains the scriptures to them and, eventually, He breaks bread with and for them. And in this bread broken, in this Eucharistic revelation, that they recognise the Lord Jesus alive and present in their midst.

The Emmaus story is a beautiful image of the Christian life. The pathway of our faith opens up the presence of Christ in our lives as He accompanies each one of us, as He accompanies you, especially when it all seems to be going wrong, when our dreams are shattered, when our hearts are aching. The Lord Jesus walks with us, the Lord Jesus walks with you. At this very moment He is with you. Whatever is happening in your life, you are not alone. Christ is with you on the road, every step of the way and He will never leave you.

We could speak for hours about this beautiful Gospel, but please don’t worry, I’m not going to. But do spend sometime today, hallow this Sunday, this day of resurrection, by finding a copy of the scripture online, go to your bible. Go to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24. Just pray through it. Ponder it. It’s so rich. But let me now just pick out one detail, one phrase, in this rich tapestry of resurrection encounter.  

As the Lord Jesus walks with these two disciples, one of them, Cleopas, asks Him a question: ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know all the things that have taken place there in these days?’ As He does so often, the Lord Jesus responds to this question with another question. He asks: ‘What things?’ – ‘What things are you talking about? What things have happened in Jerusalem? What’s been going on in these past few days? What thing?’

On so many different levels, it was an incredible thing for the Lord Jesus to have said. Knowing, literally first-hand, everything that had happened at the crucifixion and the resurrection, the Lord Jesus is more interested in first hearing the disciples’ story before he tells His own, even though His story is the most fantastic Good News imaginable.

I’ve often thought that every disciple should have that quotation from Luke 24:19b inscribed above their bed, inscribed over their door as they leave the house: ‘What things?’ – ‘What things?’ The attitude of meeting others with a spirit of openness to the things they bring. ‘What things?’ In that simple phrase, it is one word, ποίά, in Greek – ποίά says the Lord Jesus. In that simple phrase an important truth about our relationship with the Lord Jesus is conveyed as the model for our relationships with each other.

Our Lord and God does not presume that what He has to say is of such importance, even though it is, that He cannot first listen. The Lord Jesus desires that we share with Him what is on our heart; that we engage our heart in speaking with His heart; that we share with Him – plainly and uncensored – our deepest joys, our deepest sorrows, our deepest fears, and our deepest hopes. Today believe me, my friends, when I say to you that the Lord Jesus is asking you ‘What things are on your heart?’ Please be encouraged to share with Him the truthful answer to His question: ‘What things are on your heart?’ 

In response to Jesus’ question the two disciples tell the story of their faith, the story of their life: who Jesus is; what they had hoped He would achieve; what had happened to Him; the uncertainty as to whether He has risen from the dead. And the Lord Jesus listened. He wanted to know everything that had been going on, and to know it from their perspective, to know it from their heart.

My friends this is so encouraging for us. The Lord Jesus is interested in our live. He wants to share with us what’s happening. He wants us to share with Him the things that matter most. And He waits patiently for us to answer the question: ‘What things are on your heart?’

This a wonderful way to think about how we pray. To believe that when we come before the Lord Jesus, in stillness and quiet, no matter what state our heart is in, the risen Saviour of the world asks you with gentleness and patience ‘What things?’ – ‘What things are in your heart?’ So, be encouraged and tell Him