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Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter 3: The Mystery of Messiah Made Known in the Breaking of the Bread

Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Luke 24:13–35


Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 

These two are two of Jesus’ disciples. If I ask, "how many disciples did Jesus have", you might answer 12.  Others might answer 70, 120, and a lot more may answer "lots".  I have asked this question to some people and have received a number of answers.  The reason why we don't seem to know the answer to this question, and others like it, is because so often just read without thinking, learning very little . In Luke 6 Jesus goes up onto a mountain and spends the night praying.  In the morning "He called His disciples to Him, and chose 12 of them who He also designated as apostles". (Luke 6:13)  Luke 6:17 says that there was a "large crowd of His disciples" there at the base of the mountain that  Jesus chose His 12 apostles from. 
This is the picture.  Jesus spends the night in prayer on a mountainside.  In the morning at the base of the mountain He gathers a large crowd of disciples.  How many disciples there were, we don't know.  We do know that there was a large crowd. Remember, at times Jesus would speak to 5,000 plus people.  Most likely not all of these thousands were disciples.  Whatever the case, Jesus most likely had a few thousand disciples.  We know from Acts 1 and 2 that He had at least 120.  Anyway, from this large crowd, and in front of this large crowd,   "Jesus chose 12 apostles". The answer to the question, "how many disciple did Jesus have" is, hundreds, if not thousands.  He had lots of disciples, and these two chaps on the road to Emmaus were 2 of them. 

 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

 We need to be aware that there are many things that “keep us” from recognising Jesus in our midst.  Perhaps we are too absorbed in ourselves......certainly, if it’s “all about me” I will never see Jesus.  But other things……our mourning, sadness, our anger, our resentments, etc……all these can keep us from “seeing Jesus.”

 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. 

Hope, important as it is, is never enough to keep us going.  We must also have faith, which is believing what we hope for.  They couldn't believe that a suffering, crucified and dead Jesus could in any way be part of the redemptive,  saving work of God.  Their mistake is often ours as well........ How can disasters in our life be the basis of God’s saving work in our lives? is a question many still ask.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

I think He continues to say this to His Church today, especially to those who discard the Old Testament today.

 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

 Throughout the Gospels, you will very seldom hear Christ’s glory mentioned without His suffering being mentioned.  Do you really hear that:……Suffering……glory……suffering……glory.  It’s worth reflecting on why we fear and avoid suffering as much as we do……especially we who claim to be Kingdom people.....they are the Kingdom's way to glory

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Wow……that must have been some Bible study.  It’s a seven mile (+/- 12 km) walk.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.

Jesus will never impose Himself……He always waits to be invited.  He was going to go on.  This reminds me of when He walked on the water during a storm, and we’re told: “He was about to pass by them……” Invite the Jesus who is always near, into whatever situation you are going through, otherwise He might just pass you by.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him

He “began” to give it to them.  
So……where do you think their eyes were?  He began to give it to them. 

and he disappeared from their sight

 Why?......and……did they actually take the bread?......and......did they actually eat the bread......and......does it matter? 

There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 

 The men who wrote the Gospels sometimes really embarrass me.  Different women have seen Jesus and told the disciples....but they haven’t believed.  “Simon has seen Him......so it must be true.”  Ladies......please have mercy on us for the way you are still so often treated by us men. 

Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Here, in this verse, we have the promise and the hope that is tied up in the mystery which is the breaking of bread.  Here we have the Good News of the God who is with us.  God’s promise is that here, at this table, you can recognise Jesus......when the bread is broken.

If you look at all the resurrection appearances of Jesus, it’s as if the senses are highlighted, the sensual – seeing, hearing, touching (feeling), tasting, smelling.  
“When the other disciple got to the tomb, he saw and believed.” (John 20:8)
Thomas touched the holes in Jesus and believed. (John 20:28)
On a beach (21:9) they see a fire, they hear burning coals, they smell baking bread and taste braaied (barbecued) fish – and "none of them asked who it was because they knew."  Their senses told them: it’s Jesus!

They remembered the promise: “I will rise from the dead.”
Their hope was to see the risen Jesus.
We remember and we hope as well.

And God’s promise and our hope come together at this table.

The Emmaus two......... recognised Jesus, not when they saw Him, but when they saw the broken bread.

That is mystery, but I want to say it can be your and my hope, as we come to this table by faith, trusting in the promise of God, that it is Christ who meets us here.

I don’t know what you need to see, hear, feel, taste or smell (yes, smell....for example we might want to smell freedom) in your faith walk right now……but I do know that one of the reasons Jesus is revealed in the breaking of bread is because we can 
see bread,   feel bread,    taste bread,     smell bread    and we can hear bread ...
(for my world-wide congregation, at this point I will be breaking a freshly-baked loaf with a hard crust in front of the congregation.)

Then the two told how Jesus was recognised by them when He broke bread.

Draw near in faith and may you recognise Jesus.

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