This week’s passage is the fantastic story of Jesus walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is an account of the resurrection story being real in the lives of followers of Jesus. It speaks of the ushering in of a new season in the lives of God’s people. This is not just the first day of the week. This is the eighth day of creation. This is the eighth-meal in Luke’s gospel (Earle Ellis). This is the beginning of a new creation. God is doing a new thing!
The story is familiar to you—It is Easter Sunday afternoon and two disciples are making their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. NT Wright gives a wonderful exposition and application of this passage in chapter 7 of The Challenge of Jesus. Wright ties this passage in with the powerful poems found in Psalm 42 and 43. These are words that speak of deep sadness, and great longing and thirsting for God, as well as great hope for God’s presence and intervention.
The psalmist is far from God geographically (away from the Temple). The psalmist longs for God. The psalmist is also surrounded by people who oppose God. The disciples, maybe husband and wife, are distressed by the events that just occurred in Jerusalem concerning Jesus. It is a time of shock, and disequilibrium. They are living out the distress of Psalms 42/43. They are longing for answers. Longing for God’s redemption.
Then Jesus appears to them. They recount the story of the last few days. Jesus then shares with them his story, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets.. As evening approaches, Jesus is invited to stay with these two disciples. Jesus graciously assumes the role of host and breaks bread with them—notice the Lord’s Supper, and then the disciples see that it is Jesus. This is story and symbol; this is Word and sacrament (Wright).
In good pietistic form, the disciples then recount, “didn’t our hearts burn within us as Jesus opened the Scriptures?” The longing has been satisfied. The despair has been lifted.
Easter is not just dry ancient history. Easter is an event that continues to move into the future, into our lives, into our world. We proclaim Christ is risen! The despair of Psalms 42/43 breaks into a shout of hope and joy. We minister as Easter people. We minister in hope and fulfillment of a new creation. We minister because we are convinced that God has and continues to do a new thing.