The story of Jesus meeting two travellers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) presents a number of challenges. The first relates to the way that we communicate. From a teaching perspective, these two travellers that Jesus talked in such a way that things made sense to them. They said “Was not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?” As a teacher, I would seek that I would teach in such a way that those learning would gain a clear and definite insight and understanding. I don't want to those who I teach going away with clouded minds and uncertainty. I would hope that there may be a desire to learn more or even that they are encouraged to think more clearly about the issues. After all teaching isn't just about imparting knowledge. It is also about fostering a desire to learn and grow.
There is however a different challenge to those who believe in Jesus. These two travellers didn't realise that they were walking with Jesus until he sat down to eat with them and broke the bread. As Barclay (1975) points out, this wasn't the sacrament but “an ordinary meal in an ordinary house” (p 295). An ordinary loaf of bread was divided and the knowledge of the presence of Jesus was gained.
We give thanks for the meal but we seldom thank Him for or recognise his presence at our table. He is there and sits with us. He gives us all that we possess and yet we so often shut him out. It is as though we don't see him as being part of the ordinary things of life.
I envisage sitting at the table and breaking a pull apart loaf of bread. As I do so we give thanks and Jesus presence is felt by all around the table. The thing is that by creating a sacrament or a special occasion, we have removed Jesus from the ordinary. It is as though we have pushed him aside and can now only come to him through special occasions or at special times.
How many times do we go out to celebrate special occasions and not give thanks to God in that celebration. It is as though we are reluctant not only to give God thanks but we are also uncomfortable that others might see us acknowledge God's presence. It is as though we don't believe God is in the ordinary and that in order to meet with Him, we have to go to certain places and carry out specific rituals.
When Jesus told the disciples to prepare no defence (Luke 21:5-24), he didn't mean that they should never put themselves in a position where they might need to defend their faith. On the contrary, he was talking of them being before judges and being asked to defend their faith. Barclay (1975) says what Jesus was saying was that the “disciples would never meet their tribulations alone” (p 259). He would be with them giving them the words that they would need.
As we walk in the ordinary events of life, we can ignore God's promptings to speak into the lives of others or we can be sensitive to His word and to those around us.
Barclay, W. (1975). The gospel of Luke (revised ed.). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.