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Sermon: Cleopas’s Report to the Disciples After Returning from Emmaus

Grace Presbyterian Church

April 1, 2018, Easter Sunday B

Luke 24:13-35

Cleopas’s Report to the Disciples After Returning from Emmaus

Luke 24:35: Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread…

 

Look, y’all, I’m not going to pretend I can explain this so it makes even a little sense. I mean, I still don’t understand it.

First of all, I have to apologize to you, Mary, Mary, Joanna. You were right. I still don’t understand how, but you were right, and I made fun of you, and I apologize. I’ll probably have to spend the rest of my life apologizing and never really make it up.

But we didn’t believe you, and we left. I mean, with Jesus gone, what was there to stick around for? These last years have been … I can’t even come up with the word for it. Every word I try seems trivial when I think of the things we saw Jesus do, the things he taught us, just the experience of being with him. You know what I mean, right? And with him gone, I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand being in this city that had killed him, with those priests and scribes and governors and soldiers. He agreed with me, and so we left, back to Emmaus where we came from, back to whatever life there was there, which was going to seem incredibly empty and lame forever.

We didn’t talk much at first. What could anyone say, really? After a while I guess we did start talking, or more like ranting, maybe. How could they do this? How could Jesus possibly deserve to be murdered like some kind of common criminal? That kind of thing. I don’t think either of us had anything particularly useful to say, and I apologize again to Mary and Mary and Joanna because we said some things about y’all and what y’all had said that were not very nice.

I’m really not sure how he came up behind us like that without our noticing. You know that road is pretty empty. People shouldn’t be able to sneak up on you like that, but somehow there he was asking what we were talking about, which at first seemed kinda rude. I wanted to spout off something like “none of your business, jerk” but fortunately my buddy here reined me in with one of his looks – you know how he can look at you and stop you in your tracks – just before I could be too rude back.

Even then my answer probably sounded a little rude. “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” Jesus gives us this look – you remember – and is like “What things?” So my partner here jumps in with the summary before I can get really rude, including how Mary and Mary and Joanna had said they had seen those men at the tomb saying that Jesus was risen.

At the time his answer was about as strange as it could be, it sounded like to me. “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then he starts teaching and preaching like he used to do, and we’re both standing there thinking “this man almost sounds like Jesus.”

OK, I know what you’re thinking. How could we possibly not have recognized him? Look, I can’t understand how this even happened. I have no idea why I couldn’t recognize him. He thinks maybe God was preventing us from recognizing him until just the right moment, and that’s as good or better than anything I can come up with. And yeah, maybe my being so doubtful about his possibly being risen might – I’m only going to say “might” here – have been keeping me from recognizing him. I don’t know. But his preaching and teaching, man, it was like old times.

We could have gone on like that all day, and actually we did. So it was getting dark by the time we got there, and we were pretty happy to get off the road. Now this stranger – yes, it was Jesus, but we still didn’t know that yet – made like he was going to keep going. Our mamas didn’t raise us to let someone go off alone in the dark on roads with bandits, not without at least offering food and rest. And yeah, maybe we were hoping for more of what he was saying. So he stayed.

My wife had already prepared a table for us, the bread was there, smelling so good. So we had sat down to the table when the stranger picked up the bread – thought it was strange for him to do so at first, but he picked up the bread and blessed it, then he broke it and gave it to us.

I can’t explain it. It was like blinders suddenly fell off my eyes, or as if the sun suddenly came out and made everything clear for the first time, even though it was still night. One moment we didn’t know who this was, and then suddenly it was the Jesus who we’ve seen bless the bread and break it like that I don’t know how many times. Really, how many times have we seen that? From the very beginning, sometimes just a few of us and sometimes thousands of people…I know you remember. I know you do.

And yes, like that last night. You don’t think all the memory of those few nights ago came rushing into my head? “Do this in remembrance of me” and all that? It hit like a hammer, all at once: he’s alive.

Honestly it didn’t even matter that he was gone the next second. My wife is all freaking out saying “you have to go back to Jerusalem, the others have to know” and I’m all “I know, I know” and he’s just jumping up and down freaking out. So we turned right around and headed back, dark and all. And that’s how we got here, and that’s what we heard and saw.

I don’t know how to explain it and I don’t care. Jesus is alive, and he will come to us, I know. Are we ready to see him? Are we ready for what’s next? I don’t know what it is, but are we ready?

 

Luke 24:36: While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be unto you.”

Thanks be to God. Amen.

 

Hymns (from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal): #232, Jesus Christ is Risen Today; #243, Be Not Afraid; #233, The Day of Resurrection; #239, Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing!; #248, Christ Is Risen! Shout Hosanna!

 

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