Road to Emmaus
I could no longer bear the crowds, the sounds,
the smells. Jerusalem had become a place
where dreams were killed and hopes destroyed by
bloody Roman soldiers and godless
religious leaders. Both had lost their
humanity and become void of
compassion. Power and might were all they
desired and sought. Neither could accept
God’s gifts of love and mercy–so, love
and mercy they could never provide.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
my friend, Cleopas, and I took the road
back to our home in Emmaus. Our walk
took longer than usual for we were
in no hurry. Where did we need to go
after all? What did we need to do?
While we walked–we talked, we argued, we laughed,
we cried. Had we been foolish to put our
trust, our hopes, our dreams, and yes, our faith
in this one man? Had we only hoped he
had been sent by God? Had we only dreamed
he performed miracles? We marveled at
his teaching but had it all been just a
mirage? Had we been swayed by his
kindness? His mercy? His love?
For if it had all been real, how could he have
let himself be killed by such a mob? How could he have
been treated in such a cruel and shameful way?
“Jerusalem has always killed her prophets,”
Cleopas reminded me. “Yes,” I agreed.
“But didn’t we think Jesus was more than
a prophet? Didn’t he have the power
to heal? To raise the dead? How could such a
one be arrested as if he were
a common criminal? Worse than a
common criminal! More like a
dangerous lunatic! Was he mad?
Or is it we who are mad?”
So wrapped up in our thoughts, our questions,
our despair and our arguments–which all
ebbed and flowed like the Sea of Galilee–
we neither heard nor noticed a man
behind us until he caught up to us
and began to walk by our side.
“What are you talking about?” Such
impertinence coming from a stranger seem to
nettle Cleopas, but with feelings raw,
I felt compelled to share our story with
someone who might give us a new perspective.
But before I could speak, Cleopas
blurted out, “Have you not just come from
Jerusalem yourself? How could you not
know what everyone is talking about?
Perhaps you’ve been living under a rock?”
I nudged my friend and told him not to be
unkind. “Perhaps this man can’t understand
why we are so upset. After all, men
are crucified every day by the Romans.”
“Yes, but not usually innocent men.
Men like Jesus who never harmed anyone.”
“Then why was he crucified?” our new friend
asked. “What brought him to the Romans’
attention? And why are you so distraught
over his death? Were you very close to him?”
“We were more than close,” I affirmed. “We
honored him, we–yes, we worshiped him.
We thought he was truly the One, the
Messiah we have been waiting for–
but now, now he is dead.”
The man nodded as he pondered my words,
his eyes set on the horizon as if
he could see what I could not. I wondered
if he thought us foolish. Foolish to place
such hope in a mere man. Foolish to
believe in his teaching, his miracles,
Then his pace quickened. “Let me explain the
Scriptures to you. Scriptures about the
Messiah. Then perhaps you will better
understand what has happened and why.”
He then began to expound on the
Scriptures beginning with Genesis and
continuing through the Law, the Prophets,
the Psalms. He explained the prophecies
of the Messiah in a way I had
never heard before, and I felt my heart
burn within me. Even Cleopas
remained silent as we took in the words
of this stranger who now seemed both familiar
and comfortable as an old friend.
Before we knew it, we had reached my home
in Emmaus. Our new friend did not stop
walking but continued on past my door.
Neither Cleopas nor I could bear the
thought of being parted from him so soon.
Please, we begged him, stay and eat with us.
We would hear more of your teaching.
We will fix you a meal
and you can even stay the night.
There is plenty of room.
He seemed reluctant, and perhaps he
had more pressing things to do, but
when we convinced him we truly
wanted him to stay and dine with us,
he agreed, and I made haste to
go in and tell my wife of our guest
and our need for a quickly made meal.
Once seated, we served our guest and waited
to hear more of what he could teach us.
Though sorrow still enveloped our souls,
somehow this man had wrapped us in a peace
and filled us with a hope that our faith in
the man Jesus had perhaps not been in vain.
What happened next remains the most
astonishing of revelations given
to simple men such as ourselves. One
minute we were waiting for our guest, this
stranger in our midst, to further enlighten
us, and the next, our eyes were opened to the
true identity of one we had taken
to be unknown and unfamiliar
to us. When he stretched forth his hand
to pass the bread to Cleopas on
his right, we all saw the round scar–bright and
shockingly white–on his wrist. A scar
so fresh it was scarcely healed and
almost glowed there in the dusky light.
The sight of that scar caused the scales
to fall from our eyes. It was Him!
Jesus! The One we had followed and
seen crucified. The One we thought to see
no more on this earth. What Peter and John
had said was true. He had come back to life!
Then just as quick as our eyes had been
opened, he was gone–along with our
despair and grief, leaving us with joy
and excitement instead. He was alive!
Truly alive! We had seen him in the
flesh. I remembered now. How my heart
had burned within me as he spoke to us.
Spoke truth to us. Now, without
speaking, we knew we must go back to
Jerusalem. And we could not delay.
We had to go back that very night.
My wife protested. We would be tired,
she said. We had only just gotten home.
But even she knew we could never
sleep and we could almost run back to
Jerusalem. To go back and tell
our brothers and sisters the Good News.
Soli Deo Gloria