â€œWalking the Road Togetherâ€
April 6/08, Luke 24:13-35, Acts 2:14a, 32-41
A few weeks ago, I asked you to watch the reactions of those who have come to know and encounter Jesus Christ after his resurrection. Last week we saw Thomas and the disciples. This week we see Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus and also we saw part of an early sermon from Peter to the people of Jerusalem. We see the results of the excitement that is happening in the early days after Christ is risen.
First we’ll look at the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Here we see Cleopas, called a disciple, walking with another unnamed disciple on a road leading out of Jerusalem. The timing of this event is the afternoon after the tomb is found empty. It is still Easter Sunday, and Jesus has not yet appeared to the rest of the disciples in the Upper Room.
We don’t know a lot about Cleopas, this is the only time he is mentioned in the Bible. He is called a disciple of Jesus, yet we aren’t sure exactly when this might have happened. Was he one Jesus healed? Was he one of the ones fed on the mountainside? We aren’t sure. But clearly he was one who followed and loved Jesus. Just as many, many others did. He was mourning Jesus’ death, and still not understanding the significance of an empty tomb despite the details of witnesses that very morning telling all Jesus is alive.
So Jesus joined them on their seven mile journey from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. Talking and sharing with them in their journey, both the physical walk, and the emotional walk they were on.
It’s interesting what happens when they reach the home. Jesus looks to continue on, and they invite him to stay for dinner. As Jesus breaks and blesses the bread, it is then when is they finally recognize who they have been travelling with. After a very quick bite to eat, they rush back into Jerusalem to tell the others what they have experienced.
One thing I’d like to point out right now is it seems that resurrection is a hungry business. Jesus seems to eat more often after he is risen than before. Surely he did eat in his earthly ministry, but it is afterward his resurrection where it is recorded he eats often. He joined Cleopas in a meal, although it looks like he didn’t eat before he left. Then that evening when he appears to the eleven disciples, at least as recorded in Luke, he walks in, reveals himself to them, then asks â€œYou got any food?â€ Then a couple days later, when some of the disciples decide to go fishing for some food, Jesus again appears, in John 21, on the seashore and is cooking them some fish and bread.
What then do we see in these stories. Well, it could be said that the post-resurrection Jesus is a good member of the United Church. Whenever he gets together with his friends or fellow church members, they have to eat. So now you know where we get it from!
Another thing that is clear is that Jesus wants community. He wants to see people living and worshipping together. What is more intimate than sharing a meal? A common ground for each person to exchange ideas, a place to tell stories, to share our lives with each other, both the celebrations and the challenges we face.
It is in the sharing of our lives with each other where we learn how to best serve one another as a church. Not just inside the our own little church community, but also the wider community in which we live.
In the reading from Acts this morning, we see Peter preaching the the people of Jerusalem. He stood among the crowd just after Pentecost, when he and the rest of the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and preached the Good News of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He shared with them what Jesus has done for all people. Finishing with what we read this morning. The promise that our sins are forgiven, and we may too receive the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit by believing in him. And look what happened… three thousand people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ that day!
From there the people came together, as a community sharing their lives with each other, journeying in their faith together, and finding ways to serve their neighbours.
God’s love appears to us in many different ways. The beauty of creation. The many miracles that happen each and every day. Childbirth, the rising of the sun, the beating of our hearts, seemingly tiny things we barely notice every day. Yet all part of God’s work in the world around us. But God also appears to us in the people we meet. People sharing their own personal life stories with us in ways that may enrich our own lives, or maybe in ways that are invitations to provide a ministry or service to others.
One of the challenges of the church today is that we are comfortable. We come to church each week, we see the same faces, we talk to the same people, we do the same things.
Just this very morning we learned of a new disciple named Cleopas. We knew nothing of him before, but what we did learn is that Jesus came to him and his friend, shared in their journey, shared in fellowship and revealed the life of Christ that is in each and every one of us.
The fact Jesus came to this unknown disciple before he appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room shows us that it always isn’t about being with the ones we know best. Sometimes we need to listen to those we don’t always hear about how we as a church can better serve them.
You might be asking yourself, â€œWho do I know who to talk to?â€ One way to answer that might be to look around you now and ask, â€œWho isn’t here?â€ Another way might be to be aware of those you avoid, and ask yourself, â€œWhy is it that I avoid these people?â€
Being a follower of Jesus Christ means reaching out to others. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means not being afraid of how others see us when we associate with people others shun and ignore. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means talking and sharing with all people as we all journey together on this roller-coaster we call life.
Jesus did it. He could have easily ignored many, if not all the people he encountered in his life. He could have chosen not to listen to, teach, and serve those he encountered as he travelled about the countryside. Instead he took it upon himself to teach and heal all those people as a servant of God.
When we look to Jesus as our example, when we see the work of the early church in the book of Acts as a community of people who served each other regardless of their background, we should be asking ourselves, â€œHow can I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, be more Christ-like? How can we walk the road together?â€