Emmaus, Jesus and the table

There’s a scene right at the end of the Gospel of Luke (in Luke 24:13-35)that I think is similar to where we find ourselves today. These two disciples are walking together towards Emmaus and as they walked they were talking about all that happened that week in Jerusalem to Jesus. Without knowing it, as they walked Jesus showed up and at first they didn’t know it.

I think sometimes Jesus shows up and we miss it. He doesn’t always do things like we expect him too. The doubting disciples on the dusty road needed a re-orientation to the work of God in the world. We do too.

As they walk and talk, Jesus gets these disciples of his to tell him what they were talking about and so they recount the horrifying three days prior to the resurrection. Jesus had been handed over to death on a Roman cross, and buried. Their hopes were dashed. But there was a thread of hope, for there had been reports that Jesus had been raised for the dead. This stranger, or so they thought, takes these two doubting Disciples back to the unfolding story of Scripture (Moses and the prophets and in other Scriptures) that tells about the coming, and victory of Jesus. It is interesting that in the midst of worry and doubt, that Jesus draws their attention back into the Story of God. We would do well to dwell in this story.

As they are walking they make their way to the place they were staying. It isn’t until they are gathered around a table, and Jesus takes bread, gives thanks and breaks it and gives it to them that they recognize him.

There are four things that jump out to me in this story:

1. The table is a great picture of the church. When we come together to take communion each week we are retelling the Jesus story. Jesus is the head and host of the table. We are a gathered people joining in with those who have gone before us and with those who will come after us.

2. The table is a place of acceptance. Throughout the Gospels Jesus was often found at a table eating with sinners. All are welcome to sit with Jesus. I know that I too would have a place at the table.

3. As Jesus was teaching them about God’s unfolding story their hearts burned within them. Many of us probably have had heart burn at one time or another. But here in Luke 24, the disciples are experiencing something else other than acid re-flux. Their hearts are burning because Jesus is inviting them into something bigger, something grander than they had initially thought.

4. The first thing they do after breaking bread is leave the table and they go and tell others about the resurrection. As I was reading this text, it dawned on me that the most important part of our weekly gatherings is what happens as we leave the building. Don’t misunderstand me: our meetings are important and what we do there. But, as we leave the coziness of the pew, we are headed out into mission. Our churches would do well to put reminders over the exits something likes this, “As you leave this, you are Christ’s ambassadors at the restaurant, at school, at work, on the road, at home.”

Whether we realize it or not, how we live in between our meeting times says a lot about what we believe about the resurrection. Hopefully are lives are pointing to the empty tomb with joy! Dismal Christians paint a dismal picture of the hope of new creation!


About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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