Reflection on Lk 24.13-32
Is there anyone that's heard this story in the liturgy or in a Bible study who has not wanted to eavesdrop as Jesus opened up the Scriptures for these travellers going home to Emmaus? "Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets he interpreted for them the things about him in the whole Scripture." Luke was fascinated by this idea of interpreting the Scriptural teaching about Jesus, opening up the Bible so that everyone who is open to understand can see how everything fits together and explains all that Jesus did and suffered. In Acts too he related an incident in which Philip, one of the first deacons, interprets Isaiah's words from one of the Servant Songs and shows how it applies to Jesus, his suffering, and his death.
Unfortunately Luke wasn't there, any more than we were, and so he can't give us details, chapter and verse as it were, of Jesus' interpretation. Instead he left us a tantalising puzzle to solve, how to find Jesus as the suffering Messiah in the Tanakah, the Hebrew Scriptures. People are still puzzling over this today, and some are convinced it can't be done without twisting the meaning of Moses and the prophets beyond what is right. But many many people, from Luke's community to Timothy (who learned from his mother and grandmother Eunice and Lois "the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus") have read the Hebrew Scriptures and found in them promises and themes which reach their fruition in Jesus.
This study of the Scriptures is hard. It requires learning and more than learning, it requires judgement and respect for the LORD and the LORD's first covenant. As Messiah, Jesus fulfils, he does not abolish. So we must avoid all hint of the false idea that the new covenant in Jesus supersedes or replaces the covenant the LORD made with Moses. Rather it extends and enriches the first covenant, for (as Paul says in Romans 11.29) "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." But by his example, related here by Luke, Jesus called us to this study.
I truly believe that we are all called, as followers of the Messiah Jesus, to a lifetime of engagement with the Scriptures, reading and studying them throughout our lives, and making them a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, as the Psalmist says. The Risen Jesus called these two disciples to that lifetime of engagement when he first scolded them and then taught them how to go about it on the road to Emmaus. Much of the New Testament consists of engaging with the life of Jesus and its meaning through the lens of the Hebrew Scriptures, for the Christian Scriptures were only in the process of coming into being.
So we too need to follow that road to Emmaus. And we shouldn't overlook where it ends - for Jesus and Kleopas and the other, unnamed disciple, it ended at table, with bread that was taken, blessed, broken, and given, the four-fold action of the Eucharist. And in that four-fold act, the eyes of the other two were opened and they recognised Jesus. If we follow that road we too will encounter Jesus in the breaking of bread.
As I have worshipped and learned and taught at Redeemer, I have seen this Emmaus window (pictured in the Introduction) over and over - more times than I can count. And although the liturgical reform of a moveable altar means that the window is no longer directly over the Communion Table, it still overlooks it, and us as we gather for communion here. It reminds us of this story and of its importance in forming us as disciples of Jesus, the Messiah who was also the Suffering Servant.
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