The Witness in Luke

Today's Bible reading: Luke 24:13-49

Speaking of Jesus’ appearances, this brings us to one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture: our Gospel reading for this morning – the Road to Emmaus.  Without recognizing who the stranger is, two disciples on the way to Emmaus pour out their hearts to Jesus. As they continue walking along the

way together, Jesus begins to open up the Scriptures to them … and shows them that everything has taken place according to a divine plan.  Yet it is only when Jesus sits down and eats with the two men that their eyes are open to the truth: the Lord is alive and among them.  Surely - here in this final chapter of His Gospel -  the essential thing that St. Luke is trying to tell us is that we can know the truth about the Lord and know Him personally as we search the Scriptures and meet Him in the Lord Supper.  The Lord - who explained the Scriptures to the learned teachers as a young boy at the Temple - is the only one who can reveal the mystery of God’s plan – including the mystery of the resurrection.  But the real mystery is not simply that He rose.  More than this: He is also among His people with His saving presence.  He is always Immanuel – “God with us” – a reality we are experiencing right now, as we soak in His Word … and a reality we will experience even more concretely in just a few moments when we join together with Him for His Holy Supper.

The end of our Gospel reading underlines these same points: that Jesus alone can make sense out of the Scriptures … and that it is the Lord Himself who commissions His disciples to be His witnesses.  Yet Luke has another interest.  Jesus eats with His disciples and invites them to touch His hands and feet.  He isn’t some sort of ghost … or apparition.  Easter is not something dreamt up by the disciples.  Nor is the risen Lord a different person from the Jesus they once knew.

As we conclude together, I'd like to focus in on an important insight regarding MealsMeals with Jesus.  On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus shares together with His disciples what we refer to as the Last Supper … instituting the new covenant in His body and his blood.  And now - immediately following His resurrection from the grave and His conquering of death itself - Jesus shares another very special and important meal with His disciples – and I don't want you to miss this important insight: that it is only when Jesus opens up the Scriptures - and finally opens their eyes in the breaking of the bread - do these two men see before them Jesus Christ – crucified and risen.

Verse 35 of our Gospel reading can really be thought of as a blueprint for our Christian worship until our Lord finally comes at the last day: “Then they told Him what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”  Buy His own unique example here, the Lord Himself affirms the pattern of our worship, namely: teaching followed by eating in His table fellowship.  Worship in the New Testament church - our worship - is a continuing table fellowship with God that reaches all the way back into the Old Testament …. while at the same time looks ahead to the glorious future of the wedding supper in heaven – giving us a foretaste of the feast to come.

The common bond between the Meals of Jesus during His ministry, the Last Supper, breaking bread at Emmaus and our sharing together of the Sacrament is that all of them are - first and foremost - acts of table fellowship where Christ is present to teach and eat with His people.  During His earthly ministry, whenever Jesus shared a meal He was present locally – that is to say He was present just as we are present with one another when we come and gather at His Supper.  At the Last Supper, Jesus is still present locally … however - in a miraculous and mysterious way - He is also present sacramentally in, with, and under bread and wine.  And after His resurrection - at Emmaus, for example - Jesus is present in His resurrected body, as well as present sacramentally in the meal.  And from Pentecost forward until right here and right now, Jesus continues to be present among us sacramentally in liturgies of Word and Sacrament.

At these meals Jesus is present – present to teach about the Kingdom of God by teaching about His death … present to break bread and reveal His intentions for our eternal salvation.  In this way we could say that Jesus’ table fellowship is revelatory – it goes to the very core of how the Kingdom of God is now present in the worship life of the Church because Jesus the King is bodily present in His Church through Word and Sacrament.

Our Christian worship is a continuation of the reconciled world’s tables fellowship with God in which He proclaims to us in His transforming Word salvation in Jesus Christ … and in His sacramental meal He offers us the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ's body and blood in, with, and under bread and wine.  In both His Word and His Meal, salvation is present because Jesus Christ is present with His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Prayer: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe.  In love You have given Your Son, Jesus Christ, into death for us and raised Him to life again; so raise us from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.