You can listen to this week's sermon by downloading the mp3 file or by streaming audio using the player below. Alternatively the text is available below. Please read the scriptures above - The Gospel if nothing else - BEFORE listening to the sermon!
Let’s look first to the fact that Jesus is risen. Luke in his Gospel, and the other gospel writers recount for us eye witness testimony of the risen Christ. These men, came running back to the Apostles, to tell them excitedly that they had seen the risen Christ. They knew the sort of ridicule the women had suffered earlier when they came back with similar stories, Luke tells us that they were thought t be telling idle tales. These men however weren’t concerned about the possible ridicule they might get for telling people about the resurrection, it was real, Jesus had walked with them, talked with them, instructed them and broke bread with them, and they wanted the world to know.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is alive, he has risen from the dead and conquered the power of sin! He has opened the path to salvation and eternal life to all who seek it! We need to be excitedly telling people about this! We need to be like these two men who ran back to Jerusalem, to spread the news. We are to be his witnesses in the world. Let me put it this way… people often say to me, oh I believe, I just don’t want to be one of ‘those’ Christians who is always talking about their faith, you know the kind, they are always trying to tell people about Jesus, they try and put Jesus into every conversation in Some way it’s just embarrassing…
Well brothers and sisters, here’s the thing… if we REALLY believe that Jesus was the son of God, if we REALLY believe that he took the consequence of our sin to the cross with him, and if we REALLY believe that he rose from the death, and opened the door to eternal salvation to all would seek it… then how can we NOT want to tell people? Jesus rose from death! This isn’t a small thing that we shouldn’t bother people with, it is the very crux of our faith it is the key to eternal salvation! We should be telling everyone we meet that Jesus is alive!
But this passage has some deeper insights for us to explore. When Jesus first meets with the men on their way to Emmaus, they don’t recognise him. Never the less Jesus walks with them, and he gives them insight into the scriptures, he comforts them, and helps them to understand the pain they are suffering. Even though they didn’t recognise his presence, Jesus was with them.
We all have suffered loss, we have suffered pain, and we all have questioned where God is in the most troubling times in our lives. This scripture tells us where God is – Jesus is walking with us, he is available to comfort us, he will guide us and walk with us just as he does with these two men in our Gospel account. We need to remember in those troubling times that just as these men in our story didn’t recognise the presence of Christ with them as they were dealing with their grief over the crucifixion of Jesus, we too in our own struggles often struggle to see or feel the presence of God with us – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t there.
Jesus eventually reveals himself to the men in the breaking of the bread, and it is only then that the men can look back in hindsight at their journey, and see that they were in fact not alone in their pain and mourning, but that Jesus himself was with them on the journey. We too often only recognise the movement of God in our lives in hindsight, when we look back we can sometimes see that God really was with us.
So how do we help to ensure we can feel the presence of Jesus walking with us on our journey, rather than only seeing him in the rear vision mirror after the fact? Well again our Gospel points us in the right direction. As the men reached their destination Jesus was about to walk on, and the men, despite their grief and struggles live their faith as Christ had taught them – they offer hospitality to the stranger. I wonder if I was in a similar position, dealing with grief and struggling with loss, if I would have invited the stranger to come and stay with me? Would I have asked him in or would I have took the opportunity to get some rest and alone time to deal with my grief? What would you have done?
The men choose to put their own struggles aside and offer hospitality to the stranger, and because they did so the Lord of Lord’s and King of King’s was revealed to them, they were able to know his presence with them. Now I’m not suggesting that it is wrong to want to have some alone time in grief, everyone deals with hard times differently and needs to mourn and deal with things in their own way. What I think this story does tell us though is that we need to continue to live our faith even when we struggle, because it is through living our faith that we encounter God.
The way that Jesus reveals himself in the breaking of the bread also points us to how we can experience the presence of God on our journey. When we take part in the Eucharist we experience the spiritual presence of Christ with us, through the bread and wine. Jesus in revealing himself in the breaking of the bread points us to the Holy Communion as the central way in which we can experience the true presence of Jesus among us.
As we all start out on our journey this week, I encourage you to reread this Gospel passage. To reflect on your own journey and to look for Christ walking with you. I encourage you to boldly live your faith, because it is through living what you believe that you will encounter our living Lord. I encourage you to be like the men in our Gospel, who proclaimed Jesus risen, even though they risked ridicule and mockery.
Go forth in confidence brothers and sisters, and know that Jesus is walking with you on your journey