Jesus in the Company of Friends
April 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the Grave. While the Cross is the enduring symbol of our redemption, the resurrection of Jesus is the reason we can hold the Cross high. When Jesus arose, He ensured that our message is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13), and came with the promise that we too have been raised, through faith in Him.
For me, the most compelling Easter narrative comes at the end of Luke’s Gospel when Jesus joins two unsuspecting friends on the road to the town of Emmaus. Maybe Jesus on a street appeals to this city boy, but what especially draws me in is the dynamic of their exchange. Throughout the excursion Jesus engages them in the events of the past week as though He is unaware of the very sufferings He endured. They are indignant and ignorant – Indignant because Jesus seems to be clueless, and ignorant to the fact that He is Jesus!
It wasn’t until they broke bread together that they finally recognized Him. No doubt theologians and scholars have ruminated endlessly over that moment. Why then? What transpired? What was it about breaking bread that opened their eyes?
One can only guess. Perhaps they had heard of Jesus serving the Last Supper to His disciples – I don’t know. And because shaking hands wasn’t the greeting of the day, maybe they finally saw the scars on Jesus’ wrists – maybe, as He served the bread His wrists extended beyond His garment and revealed the violent wounds of One whose skin had been fiercely broken by nails. Again, conjecture.
Personally, I think it was all of the above, plus one other factor – that Jesus was with them! Until then Jesus was little more than a ‘reputation.’ They knew the particulars (Luke 24:19), but that is hardly personal – it is information. Sure, they were hurting – anyone that shared the hope Jesus infused into His following would be disappointed, but nothing deeper than when one’s team loses a championship. For them, their team had lost, but life goes on the next day.
Then Jesus came – He joined them in their walk, as He does ours. He spoke truth into their lives, as He speaks into ours. And then He did the remarkable: He shared a meal with them – He befriended them and made it all personal. The Risen One entered into their lives – to break bread – to allow for their sorrow, their disappointment and even their indignation.
In over three decades of ministry I have learned that the Faith comes most powerfully when it comes personally – when the truth of Jesus is transformed into friendship with Him, and then others. In fact, it isn’t real until it is personal.
This weekend we have been joined by friends from out of town. As with every visit it is a reunion of sorts, and one of the most joyful kinds. We spent a lovely day in Washington DC yesterday, and added yet one more layer of affection to our friendship. With them, and others, we have learned that no relationship has meaning from a distance. Jesus didn’t merely rise from the grave – that’s theology. He rose for us. That is friendship with the Almighty. He won’t be our God by proxy – It is always personal.
What Good News.
He is Risen Indeed!