Our passages today focus on reconciliation, the hard work of forgiveness. It might not look that way at first glance, as the passages have more finger pointing in them than words of forgiveness. However, if you dig deeper you will find that the theme of forgiveness and the restoration of relationships is at the heart of the passage.
Scripture: Luke 24: 13-35
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened…” (Genesis 3: 6-7a)
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened…” (Luke 24: 30-31a)
Two different stories in scriptures. Two different meals, one a piece of fruit, the other a meal of bread and wine. Two different people, Adam and Eve the first, and in the second Cleophas and unnamed friend. Scholars wonder if the unnamed follower is the wife of Cleophas based on a passage in Acts, but we don’t know. Two passages of scripture, two meals, followed by eyes opened.
The similarity is the act of eating and the eyes being opened. For Adam and Eve, it was an awareness that they were in the garden and naked. The shame they felt at that new awareness, yet that was how God had placed them in the garden. How God then cared for them and provided garments for them to wear.
In our passage from Luke the meal reveals something profound to Cleophas and his friend. The risen Christ is revealed to them. What they were prevented from seeing they now see clearly, revealed within the meal of bread and wine.
Both of these narratives have stories which have fueled our imagination for centuries. The first has shaped human guilt and resulted in some narratives that have been harmful. I think in many ways we’ve missed the point of that passage. The second has a story that weaves all the stories together. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Luke 245: 27)
In this passage it is expectations which blind Cleophas and his friend. They expected Jesus to be one thing, “We thought he would be the one to redeem Israel” and are unable to comprehend what Jesus did mean. It is only after listening to Jesus and sharing in the meal of bread and wine that their eyes are opened.
The aspect of listening is important. Think back to just before Lent, we read the passage on the Transfiguration. The voice of God in that passages says, “This is my son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him.” It was only after listening to Jesus, of hearing his voice and the story he shared that these followers were able to see.
Cleophas and his friend expected one thing and received another. The disciples, despite travelling with Jesus for several years also faced this dilemma. As did many of the others who encountered or heard about Jesus. They expected one story, but received another story which was far more profound than they could have imagined.
“The meal redefines the disciples’ understanding of Jesus. Jesus takes, blesses, breaks, and gives the bread to them (Luke 24:30), the same sequence of actions we recall from his final meal (22:19).” (Greg Carey – https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/third-sunday-of-easter/commentary-on-luke-2413-35-9) It has been noted by commentators that in Luke’s gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. The patter here of breaking bread is deliberate, it is meant to invoke a response. It is designed to shape the story.
Like Cleophas and his friend we have our own understanding of the gospel story. The way the gospel story intersects with our own lives shapes us, feeds our understanding. We know and believe in Jesus in certain ways based on how the gospel story has been told to us. And just as we have an understanding of this story, we have our own story. Similar to Cleophas and his friend as they journeyed to Emmaus that day talking with each other about all these things that had happened. We too walk and discuss the things that have happened in our lives.
What is the story that surrounds our lives? How does the hearing of scripture and the message of the gospels stir our hearts? How does it shape our story?
What is the message that we have to share with people we meet? The lesson of the gospels is written on our heart, how well do we understand the story they are telling us?
Stories shape our lives, they help us understand who we are and where we have come from. Our story evolves with us as we travel along life’s path.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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