That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem . . . Jesus himself drew near and went with them (Luke 24:13-15).
By now you’ve probably moved on.
Here on Thursday, Easter Sunday seems like a long time ago.
Easter observances vary from family to family, but maybe you worked hard last week to get ready for the weekend. This could have meant getting the house show-room ready, getting the kids new outfits, cooking a dish to contribute to the meal you were invited to attend, joining your grandchildren at a local egg hunt, wading into the lunch-time crowds for brunch (thankful you were able to make a reservation).
And let’s not forget the point of it all – worshipping the risen Christ. Yeah, there’s that.
That in itself is no small task given the challenges of getting everyone ready, getting everyone there, getting the car parked and getting to a pew (or auditorium seat as the case may be). Sunday evening found you worn out and weary, and relieved that it was all over. Now you’ve moved on.
How long will it take before you realize that the living Jesus you heard about and sang about on Sunday is with you right now, on Thursday?
All the Way Home
For two of Jesus’s followers, this realization took seven miles.
Seven miles is the distance from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. These two expectant disciples had been in Jerusalem for the Passover; they had gone there with high hopes as to what Jesus would do to liberate their nation; they had followed the events that led to Jesus’s death. And now they were moving on, leaving all of that behind, headed home to Emmaus.
We are not told at exactly what point Jesus joined them in this walk. Luke simply says that as they were talking about all that had happened “Jesus himself drew near.” Distracted and disappointed, they had no clue who he was. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”
As they got closer to Emmaus, the sun sitting low in the sky, these two disciples persuaded Jesus to stay for dinner. Only when their traveling companion took the bread, blessed it, and gave it to them did they realize who had been walking with them.
This took seven miles. Seven miles of talking with Jesus. Seven miles of listening to his words. Seven miles of distance between the noise and activity of Jerusalem, and the table intimacy of Emmaus. After seven miles their eyes were opened.
Sometimes recognizing the living Jesus takes longer.
Maybe we need a little distance from Easter in order to grasp the truth of Easter.
Jesus is alive and walking with us. Patiently and persistently, Jesus reveals himself to us along the way. And in the most ordinary setting, something triggers our recognition. We see what has been right in front of us all along. Our eyes are opened.
This doesn’t always happen quickly. If you ‘Google’ how long it takes to walk seven miles you’ll discover that at a brisk pace you can cover that distance in less than the time it takes to watch a movie. The disciples on the Emmaus Road were not moving at a brisk pace. Their seven miles took longer. And for some, knowing the truth of Easter – that Jesus is alive and walking with you – can take much longer than seven miles.
As this week draws to a close, Easter Sunday may seem like a long time ago. Maybe you’ve moved on. But when you did, the living Christ moved with you.
Keep walking. And pay attention.
Far too easily and quickly, O God, we put Easter behind us. We move on without fully grasping the reality of your presence moving with us, walking with us. Guard us from walking aimlessly in these days. Reveal yourself as you will and give us eyes to see. We pray in the name of the one who walks with us, Christ our Lord. Amen.