You can see all the lectionary readings for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss only the Gospel reading.
This week’s Gospel lesson occurs shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. Two of his followers are going along a road to a town called Emmaus. It’s 7 miles away—a long walk by modern standards, probably not too bad back then. These two men are talking about what has occurred in Jerusalem. While they’re walking along and talking, Jesus comes up and joins them on their walk. The scripture says, “But the two men were not allowed to recognize Jesus” so I guess they just think he’s some random dude. He asks them what they’re talking about and they stop. It says they looked very sad. One named Cleopas says, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has just happened there.”
Jesus said, “What are you talking about?”
They tell him all about Jesus, how amazing he was, but how he was killed on a cross. They say, “We were hoping that he would be the one to free Israel. But then all this happened.” Then they go on to tell him that some women told them that Jesus’ body was not in his tomb and that they’d seen angels who told them Jesus was alive. Then they say that they went to the tomb and it was indeed empty, but they didn’t find Jesus.
Then Jesus tells them they are foolish and that they haven’t believed the prophets. He says, “The prophets said the Messiah must suffer these things before he begins his time of glory.” And he goes on to explain everything about him that was in the Jewish scriptures.
Finally, they come near to Emmaus. Jesus acts like he is going to keep going but the men beg him to stay as it’s getting dark. So, he goes to stay with them. As they’re eating supper, Jesus takes some bread and gives thanks and then breaks it and gives it to them. I like this part:
“Just then the men were allowed to recognize him. But when they saw who he was, he disappeared. They said to each other, “When he talked to us on the road, it felt like a fire burning in us. How exciting it was when he explained to us the true meaning of the Scriptures!”
So, then they go straight back to Jerusalem to find the followers of Jesus who tell them Jesus has indeed risen, and the two men tell the other followers of their experience talking and sharing bread with Jesus.
It’s kind of mysterious and interesting how they men at first were “not allowed” to recognize Jesus and then they saw who he was as he broke bread—much like he broke it at the last supper, or how we break it today during our Eucharist.
This reminds me of the previous story of Mary Magdalene we read on Easter Sunday, who at first does not recognize Jesus outside his tomb. And just as it moved me that she turned toward him and knew him upon hearing her name, I am moved by this story—the men see Jesus for who he is in the simple act of him giving thanks and breaking bread.
This week I want to think about being on the road of life, a journey with Jesus by my side, but I hope I can recognize him day-to-day and see what he sees.