Day 284 “The Central Theme” Luke 24
October 11, 2021, 9:11 AM

Day 284 “The Central Theme” Luke 24

The empty tomb is not the place I would most like to be in our reading for today. I can happily leave that discovery to the women who went to prepare the body. The walk to Emmaus is the place that captures my attention, my imagination and my heart, and it also takes up the majority of our chapter for today. The walk seems like such a ‘normal’ way to spend extended time with Jesus. The distance between Jerusalem and Emmaus was about 7 miles, an estimated 2 hour walk. That’s the place to be—two hours with the resurrected Jesus with NO pressure! They didn’t have to recognize him. They didn’t have to pretend to be brave or faithful. They were completely honest with Jesus about what had happened, probably treating him a little bit like something was wrong with him: “Are you the ONLY stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” (18). One could probably insert a ‘Duh!” at the end of that.

They then get to tell Jesus all they know about him, but they only focus on the New Testament portions. This indicates that they haven’t really made the Big Connection between Jesus and the prophets, but who would be better to hear it from than Jesus himself? This is the part of the event that I love. If these two disciples (remember that Jesus had many followers who were also called disciples other than the twelve, who were down to eleven at this point) did not have a full understanding of the connection between Jesus and the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), they are getting a master class as they walk together. They can ask any questions they want, no matter how elemental or stupid they might seem because they have no idea this is Jesus! So maybe it would work out if we didn’t recognize Jesus right away at the Second Coming…

What this reinforces for all of us is that there is no way to separate Jesus from the Hebrew Scriptures. We can’t simply be ‘Jesus people’ without also being ‘Moses people’ or ‘Jacob people’ or ‘<insert prophet name of choice> people’.

Jesus doesn’t say to the traveling disciples “How slow you are to believe in me!”. He says “How slow of heart you are to believe in all that the prophets have declared!” (25). We will not get a pass on knowing our Hebrew Scriptures because they are part of the full story of who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is.

I’m going to put a short paragraph in here to emphasize this, written by Michael Wilcox. He does a good job of keeping it pointed and yet covers the big bases, in case we ourselves have questions about the relevance of the Hebrew Scriptures to the whole of the scriptures: “Christ and his gospel are the New Hope promised in Genesis, the new life typified in Exodus, and the new law foreshadowed… They are the ideal against which all the Judges, all the Kings, either [moved] towards or rebelled against; they put flesh on the insights of David, they bring to life the pattern of Jonah, they fulfill the visions of Isaiah. The two testaments are one, and the theology which is the sap of the church can rise only from roots which runs…deep and wide through the whole of scripture.” (Wilcox, Luke, 214).

That’s a satisfying summation for me.

But let me jump back into the place, the time, the context of the dusty road, the two disciples, the unrecognized Messiah. Jesus speaks to the disciples about their ‘slow hearts’ as he speaks to them, and their response to him when they finally recognize him is to say “Were not our hearts burning within us?”

Our response to Jesus and all that he has done is a heart response that comes from deep within us. Our rational and emotional centers connect in our faith. We hear the stories, we know the signs and miracles, and we choose to be in relationship with God through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. I wrote out the whole Trinity there because each is equally important, equally present, even when the story line seems to focus only on Jesus. What warms the heart? The Spirit. In whose image do we live and move and have our being? God the creator. Who saves us? Jesus the Messiah. The dance of Trinity invites us into the circle.

So often we want to know where our lives are going, perhaps even more so as we age. We no longer have the same ambitions or drive or even the possibility of being the kind of world-changers we once were. We want to know what we should be doing, what we could be doing, what God would want us to do in our lives, no matter our age. What purpose does church have in all of this, and why should we maintain connections to our churches when they feel emptier and when traditions have changed in this Covid-present world?

The deal is this—whether or not we like it, our lives are going. We are on the path to somewhere, and we have choices. We can do all the talking, or we can spend time listening. We can read these words in our bibles and check off another day on the list (and we all do that from time to time!!), or we can dwell on the road to Emmaus with Jesus, even now, listening and waiting for these words to warm, to burn, to ignite our hearts. Jesus doesn’t reject these two dejected souls who don’t recognize him. He teaches them. He stays with them until they get it. He loves them where they are, but works hard to move them along the path of faith and understanding. And they get there. Their hearts catch on fire, they run back to Jerusalem and become, as the women were first, evangelists to the disciples—preaching the good, impossible-possible news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. They head back to their community, to their church, to share the Good News. Someone has to do that--why not you and me?

So our job? Catch the fire. Light someone else’s torch, or at least hold out your own torch in order to guide the steps of someone on the way with you. And be patient. As Michael Wilcox ended his commentary: “If we understand Jesus correctly, we will realize that the story continues even today, and [as it continues] we ourselves are enlisted as co-authors,” (215).

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,



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