Two of Jesus’ disciples walk from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus in the aftermath of the shattering events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
The resurrected Jesus’ joins them on their way but in their despair and fatigue they don’t recognise him. He explains to them how what has just happened has all been foretold in Scripture.
On reaching the village, they persuade Jesus to stay and eat a meal with them.
According to Luke’s gospel (24:30-31): “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight.”
(Sorry that is such a small version of Caravaggio’s painting but we’re not sure about the copyright issues. Here is a link to a much larger version of the image, with options to zoom in and out on the details).
In his sermon for the third Sunday of Easter, Rev. Geoff McKee discusses why we need the guidance and encouragement of Jesus – the one who comes along beside. The one who makes sense of our sight.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Thanks to St James’ Church musical director, Katherine Robertson. for this choice of music.
Acts 2:14 (New International Version)
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
1 Peter 1:17-23
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Luke 24:13-35 New International Version (NIV)
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognising him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.
Call to Worship
Disciples of Jesus,
by his cross we are redeemed from the wastes of sin.
By his rising we are released from the fear of death.
By his love we are renewed in the living and enduring Word.
Alleluia! Thanks be to God!
We bless your name, Lord Jesus. With open hearts, minds and spirits, we come to praise you, grateful that your arms are thrown so wide in welcome. It is in the security of that embrace that we confess we do not deserve such warmth or acceptance. We have let you down in so many ways. We have failed to reflect your goodness in the words we have spoken, in the way we have treated others and in the selfish things we have done.
We ask for your forgiveness – but more than that. We ask for the courage to choose to do better. Help us to remember every minute of every day, that we are yours, loved by you, called by you. Let that love and that calling makes us generous towards others
and more loving towards you. Be Lord of our lives,
this day and forever.
Prayers of Intercession
Lord God, when things happen that we find hard to deal with, when our head goes down and our eyes see no further than our own feet, help us to be honest with you even if it’s through tears or rage and ride the storm with us. Help us to trust you’re there even when we cannot see or feel you close, then gently tilt our faces to look into yours to find there limitless compassion, endless understanding and patience and the courage we need to begin again.
We bring before you all who have lost loved ones in the past week. We remember those suffering with COVID-19 illness and ask that you would strengthen the hand of all those working in the NHS and care sectors who are giving all they have to bring comfort and healing. We remember all who are going the extra mile to help keep our country functioning. May your grace be a balm and a blessing in times of distress.
In all our prayers, we rely on your everlasting love, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray….
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,