Luke 24:32 Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?
The events of Easter are truly the ‘Greatest story ever told’, but it is odd how it is the story of the two friends on the road to Emmaus which is a favourite for so many people. Andy has mentioned how it is one of his favourite passages, and for me it is the same. In my case, I think it is because I was introduced to it by someone who had a really deep love for this passage in Luke, and who returned to this narrative every Easter Sunday for the ten years I spent in the little village in which I was brought up. My Sunday School Superintendent focused on this story every year and told it with such passion and love; it was an Easter tradition of the best sort.
The horrors of Good Friday were behind them, yet etched on their minds. The amazing story of the women who went to the tomb had not yet become real to them. They were two sad companions whose hope had been dashed and who could no longer trust that Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. They were downcast and dejected, but still able to tell this stranger who joined them about Jesus of Nazareth. They shared the good news of Jesus with him despite the fact that they were struggling to believe and were full of sorrow.
And then, they offered him hospitality and their eyes were opened as they broke bread together. I love the picture of these two men who had trailed disconsolately the seven miles home, getting up and running back to Jerusalem, their tiredness and sorrow forgotten as they rushed to share with their friends.
Jesus walks with us when we are down and miserable. He speaks to us and our hearts are cheered even though we don’t realise it is him. He reminds us of all he has done for us and encourages us to keep sharing the truth even when we have lost sight of him. He opens the scriptures to us, and, when our eyes are opened, we can’t wait to share with others what we have learned. Even in the dark days his presence will go with us as he promised to Moses in Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
We think of new life at Easter, and pictures of little lambs abound to remind us of the hope of spring. But we have more than that, we have the Good Shepherd to walk beside us and keep us plodding on, and to change our sorrow into dancing. He makes our hearts burn within us and gives us eternal hope.
Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.