The Road to Emmaus – In the breaking of bread
Cleopas and his companion were notably sad and didn’t recognized Jesus when He came to them, walking back to Emmaus after the horrible and confusing events of the weekend; the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and now the empty tomb.
They recounted the whirlwind of events from earlier that morning as the women found the empty tomb, and, reporting back to Peter and John, the disciples too ran to the tomb and found it as they had said. Empty. After a long day with no answers, they headed home.
Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His Glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (27)
Something began to stir inside the two men as they listened to Jesus. They described it later as their hearts ‘burning within them’. Maybe it was like walking in a morning fog and slowly you begin to see shapes and familiar landmarks that were always around you, but veiled, shrouded, in the dense fog. Your eyes adjust, which helps, but your main ally is the sun, working from the other side of the clouds, penetrating the gloom with heat and light. Making your way clear.
The men encouraged Him to stay as they reached their destination and He did, coming into the home as the day turned to evening.
“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” (30-31)
Just a few days prior to this Jesus had shared a similar meal with the disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem and as He took the bread, blessed and broke it, He had said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19) He did the same with a cup of wine which He described as “the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (22:20).
Now here, a short time later, the interim days including His death, burial and resurrection, He is serving bread again and as He does their eyes are opened and they realize they are in the presence of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, Messiah. “Remembering Him,” so to speak, not as a memorial, but as a present, living, reality – as Emmanuel, God with us.
Dear one, don’t forsake the Eucharist, don’t relegate communion to a monthly, quarterly or annual symbol. This sacrament is meant for hearts like ours. Slow, foolish hearts that need the assurance of the living, present Christ in our darkest, loneliest times. Like Cleopas and his companion, Jesus will be known to you in the breaking of bread (35).