Happy Easter! Christ has risen! David McMillan reminded us that, without Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, everything else about Christianity is meaningless. As Paul says:
Easter Sunday is a day of celebration for Christians today – dawn services; fellowship around special food; singing songs and hymns that remind us of the glory of the resurrection. But this is all very different from the first resurrection day!
On that day, there was no hymn singing or rejoicing. Faces were sombre and hearts were sad. The women had gone to Jesus’ tomb and found it was empty. They told the disciples. Peter went to the tomb to check and found the same situation. They were all confused, doubting each other and trying to make sense of it all.
With this background, we read from Luke 24:13-35 – only Luke’s gospel account tells this story. Two disciples are walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. One is called Cleopas and some think the other may have been his wife – we don’t know.
Luke tells us that Jesus joins them and asks them what they have been talking about on their journey. When they express surprise that he seems unaware of what has been happening in Jerusalem, Jesus simply asks: “What things?” and then listens as they tell him about the sad events of that week and pour out their grief (vs.19-24). Then Jesus says to them:
Luke does not tell us what exactly Jesus explained to them – he is more concerned to tell us how Jesus dealt with these grief-stricken disciples. Here is a master class in compassionate and sensitive care for those who grieve, who doubt, who suffer, who are confused or who are losing hope. These two are walking the journey that many a Christian believer has walked since.
Jesus does not tell them to break out of their sadness and put on happy faces. He stays in the background and listens as they unburden themselves. Only when he has walked with them on their journey of despair does Jesus open the scriptures for these disciples. He does not use scripture harshly but brings a God perspective to their situation – he explains ‘all the scriptures concerning himself’ (v.27); another way of seeing the events in Jerusalem. He brings them new hope – for they later say:
David reminded us that, on this Easter day, victory and hope do not come easily to all Christians. Some wonder – as these two disciples did – where God is in the midst of their trouble. So, what is to be learned from this Easter journey with Jesus?
- It is striking that on the first resurrection day Jesus spends more time with these two anonymous disciples than with anyone else.
- They did not recognise him until ‘their eyes were opened’ (v.31) as they ate together. If we maintain our fellowship with Jesus, one day we will recognise his presence and know that he has been walking with us.
- Whatever our challenges, we can imagine Jesus walking with these two disciples and ask him to walk with us now and through whatever lies ahead. Listen to this song and pray with it:
An Easter prayer:
May this Easter day, this day of hope and resurrection life, be a day of hope for those who have lost hope; a day of comfort for those who grieve; a day of new perspective; a day when the risen Jesus draws near and walks with us.