- Fred Craddock
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?” They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?” He said, “What has happened?” They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.” Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him. They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
Luke 24.13-32 (The Message)
Please allow me to get this out of the way. Easter has not always been at the top of my holy day list. As a kid I wasn’t too keen on being awakened before dawn to attend a sunrise Easter service. It reminded me too much of times on the river when my dad would roust me out before dawn to row for him while he fly-fished.
Also, on Easter we could be sure that lunch would be late; so late that we kids thought we would starve to death before sitting down to a feast. And not only that; we had to keep our Sunday go to meetin’ clothes on until the entire family had arrived, and photos taken in the front yard. Actually, I think was my aunt “Jack” (a.k.a. Maddie Lou) who insisted on this. She said seeing the kids of the family looking almost civilized gave her a modest hope for the future.
On the other hand, Easter was the season we got new dress up clothes (yes, I loved them; I just didn’t like to wear them all day.) about a week before Easter we would make our annual trek to Robert Hall Clothing, where I got a new suit, and to Buster Brown Shoes for, well, shoes. I was embarrassed by the shoes I wore, because by age 10, they were already too long for my body. In fact, my grand-dad “Papa” Hall used to tell me that if I didn’t have so much turned under for foot I would be downright tall.
I remember such stories from back in the day, because even after gaining a profound appreciation for Easter, I realize how much these stories from daily life mean to the Easter experience. You see, they are what Easter is about. Sure, the stories of the resurrection appearances in the New Testament are exciting and awe inspiring, and they witness to the continued presence of the Christ to the earliest disciples, blessing them with Abundant Life. But that was over 2,000 years ago. Is the resurrected Lord present to us as well? I would say yes, when in worship we celebrate at the communion table.
But here’s the deal. Stories like the experience of Cleopas and friend on the road to Emmaus show clearly that the risen Christ is present to us even in the middle of our daily lives; our frustrating, challenging, joyful, taxing, mundane lives far from the sanctity of church. They show that the resurrected Lord blesses our lies… period, end of story. In church, or in Robert Hall Clothing. at the table presided over by preachers in fancy garb, or fishin’ on the Black Warrior River. Jesus’ table of grace is enduring, and it reaches into every aspect of our lives. When we break bread together any place, any time, the Christ is in our midst. This should be enough to get us worked up and ready to shout, “Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!”
I invite you to join us on the morning of the third day (but not too early; 8:30 and 10:30 are the options) to celebrate the risen Christ whose table of grace is enduring.