Scripture: Luke 24:1-35
I’m a big fan of U2. (The rock band). A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go see them in concert. It’s hard to describe, but that evening in New Jersey felt like a deeply spiritual experience. The old Meadowlands became an outdoor cathedral.
This morning I want to give space for the “worship leader” from that evening, Bono, to give witness. Here he is talking about his faith in the risen Christ.
Bono’s words remind me that perhaps the most compelling witness we can offer regarding the risen Christ is the story of our own experience.
That’s how Luke’s account of the resurrection begins. It begins with the experience of a group of women who go back to the tomb early on the third day. They go back to the tomb with spices because they are planning to take care of a dead body. But they don’t find one. Instead, they hear the surprising news that Jesus has risen.
The women go back and share their experience. But to the apostles, their story seems like nonsense. Peter at least goes to the tomb to see for himself.
What we know from this account is that no one was expecting resurrection to happen. The events of the whole week had blindsided the apostles. They were in shock. Numb.
No one expected the kingdom of God coming on earth to look like the body of Jesus hanging on a Roman cross in early spring…
This was not the way things were supposed to go.
What do you do when your vision of God’s work has been crushed, leaving you deeply discouraged and disillusioned?
Luke’s account gives us a glimpse of what this looked like for two disciples. They’re heading home to Emmaus. As they are walking and talking about all that has happened, a stranger joins them. It’s the risen Christ, but they don’t recognize him.
Father Thomas Keating says that “the price of recognizing Jesus is always the same: our idea of him, of the church, of the spiritual journey, of God himself has to be shattered…”
What strikes me at this point in the story is that resurrection has happened, but the disciples are not able to see what is right in front of them…because they are not looking for it.
The text tells us they had hoped that Jesus was the one who would redeem Israel. But they had a different idea about what redemption looked like. They had a different idea about how Jesus would bring his kingdom on earth.
So the first thing this story helps me understand is this. Recognizing Jesus and living into the story of resurrection has everything to do with us. Our ideas about God, the church, and the spiritual journey. And our grief and pain when those ideas are being shattered.
It is painfully difficult to be in the darkness that comes when our ideas are being shattered. The darkness, where things do not go like we think they should or want them to… The darkness, where we lose our vision and energy for church… The darkness, where we cannot see a clear way forward for our lives…
The good news is that God is with us in that darkness…even when we can’t see God. That’s the witness of the Emmaus road story. And the witness of the Emmaus road story is that sometimes, in order to recognize how God is with us, something has to happen in us. Read more