Lectio Divina - Sunday, April 30th, 2017
Sunday, April 30th, 2017
Third Sunday of Easter
Reading from Luke 24:13-35
Acts 2:14, 22-33, 1 Peter 1:17-21
13Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,14and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.15And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.17He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.18One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”19And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,20how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning23and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.28As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.29But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.30And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.31With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.32Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”33So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them34who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”35Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This story, unique to the Gospel of Luke, tells of a journey made by two disciples who hear the news about the resurrection but cannot believe what they have been told. They are making for their home village of Emmaus on the afternoon of the resurrection event. They hope to arrive before sunset and will have cover seven miles on foot to reach their destination before nightfall. Walking with purpose, they will dedicate two hours for this journey. It is common for men to travel together and also to pass the time in conversation. Jesus appears to them on the road and expresses interest in their animated conversation. What are you talking about as you walk along?
We learn that the two disciples were kept from recognizing Jesus. How is this possible? Recall that the last time they saw Jesus he was beaten, bloodied, and bruised in advance of his crucifixion. They may have witnessed him as victim of scourging and then on his way to Golgotha bearing the weight of the cross. We learn one of them is named Cleopas. In the Gospel of John (19:25) “Mary the wife of Clopas” is at the foot of the cross. Here, the two men mention the report that some of “their women” have made about the resurrection, but they do not believe their testimony. Is it possible that Cleopas did not believe the testimony of his own wife?
Then they speak to Jesus about Jesus. They honor him by relating that he was a prophet strong in word and deed. This choice of description suggests that for these disciples, Jesus was the new Moses. Moses was a great prophet of God also powerful in word and deed. He had promised a successor (Deuteronomy 18:15), and these disciples thought they had met that prophet in Jesus—the same Jesus who had just been crucified by the Romans. He died a shameful criminal’s death. He had saved others but had not been able to save himself. They had lost hope and were going home.
Jesus responds to their despondency. He relates to them that the teaching of the Scripture is clear: The Christ, the Messiah, would have to suffer many things before he entered his glory. Jesus suffered unimaginably before his death, a torturous death by crucifixion. Jesus cites memorized passages from Moses and the prophets to explain to the two travelers everything that was written about the Messiah and his suffering. What a Bible class that must have been!
Two experiences transform these men from doubt and disbelief to faith and action. First is the breaking of the bread, reminding them of the meal they shared with Jesus the night before he died. Their eyes are opened when he lifts the bread in prayer to the Father and then disappears. Second is the recognition of Jesus in the Word as he opened the Bible to them like they have never heard before.
They recall that their hearts burned within them as he opened the Scriptures. They heard and now understand once familiar passages in a new way, with new depths of meaning. This new understanding reveals to them that Jesus is truly the promised Messiah. The Word of God is alive and became active for them. They have to go back and share this experience with the others! They have seen the risen Lord and recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Jesus is alive and their lives are changed forever.
How has the Word of God transformed you? Can you remember a time when your heart burned within you because of a new biblical insight or a new application to your life or circumstances? What was that like? Reflect on those experiences in prayer.
In Matthew 20:29-34 two blind men call out to Jesus to have mercy. Jesus stops and asks them what they want him to do for them. They respond, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Jesus touches their eyes, restores their sight, and they follow him.
Lord, there are times in my life when I do not recognize you even though you walk right beside me. Keep me close to your heart. Keep me in your Word. Lead me back to the Table. I pray that my heart will be on fire when I find you in your Word and that my eyes will be opened when I recognize you in the breaking of the bread.
Faith and action are complementary. Consider this Emmaus story. A loss of faith leads to despair; the disciples move away from the center. These two disciples leave Jerusalem to go home.
Along the way they encounter the risen Jesus. It takes time, but they recognize him in the breaking of the bread and in his Bible teaching. That is what a good church is all about—breaking open the Word and the experience of communion.
Emboldened by the risen Lord, the disciples are fearless. They leave their village and travel by night back to Jerusalem and the upper room. They find the other disciples gathered behind locked doors, afraid. We have seen the Lord! He lives! They share their own testimony of faith.
We need to stay connected to the Word and to breaking of the bread in our church communion. These practices will lead to a fresh recognition of Jesus, who is present in both.