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Story 9: Breaking Bread at Emmaus

In this series, Every Meal is a Story, we are looking at stories in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus breaks bread with all sorts of folks where they live in order to teach simple truth. In stories 8-10, Jesus reveals his true identity through the symbol of sacrifice in the last supper, the Scriptures about the Messiah, and by showing his humans scars in his risen glory. 

Maximino Cerezo Barredo (Spanish, 1932–), “In the Breaking of Bread,” 2001. Acrylic on canvas, 90 × 120 cm.
Claretian Provincial House, Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Read Luke 24:13-35

13 That very day two (followers of Jesus) were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. (the trials, death and resurrection of Jesus) 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him…

28 …So they drew near to the village to which they were going. (Jesus) acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 

Luke 24

“Where are you staying?” two curious seekers asked Jesus in the first days of his ministry.  Jesus responded with “Come and see.”  So they ended up hanging out, staying with Jesus all day.  (John 1:37-39)

Spending time with someone where they live, or even a third place where they hang out, provides a setting for casual conversation, lingering moments over mouthfuls of goodness, and time and space to get to know each other.  The invitation to “come and see” then went further with “follow me” to a deeper relationship of knowing and being known, hearing truth in stories, and going out to share good news. In the “staying,” sharing daily bread together, the disciples were able to know and recognize Jesus.

IMAGINE. See yourself in this story as one of the disciples. How do you respond to the invitation “come and see?” As you are hanging out with Jesus, what do you do together? When he gets ready to go home, Jesus looks at you directly and says, “follow me.” What emotions are stirred up in you?

Now years later, two disciples once again hang out with Jesus all day (although they don’t recognize him). They walk home together and he accepts their invitation to stay for dinner. Recognition then finally came with the breaking of bread, something they had seen Jesus do to demonstrate his identity as the Messiah.  Remember, at the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and blessed them.  Then he broke the loaves and gave them for all to eat. And again, remember, at the last supper, the night before he offered himself as a sacrifice, “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them.” 

In the breaking of the bread, Jesus revealed his identity, telling them many times that the “Son of Man must suffer many things, be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Lk 9:22)

Yet on this resurrection Sunday, the two disciples had not fully understand his words and were going home to Emmaus, disappointed and defeated.  Jesus appears along the way and spends hours listening to their story and sharing truth from the Scriptures.  As Jesus stayed at their home for dinner, and observed this familiar blessing and breaking the bread, then they finally, finally recognized Jesus as the Risen Lord.

REFLECT. Jesus took the necessary time to reveal who he was and explain all the Scriptures about himself. What would it look like to express your doubts and disappointments to the Lord and take time to sit and receive the gift of his loving presence?

What would it look like to invite others to “stay with you?” Does someone come to mind who is walking a difficult road?  Come alongside them so that they can recognize Christ in you.

PRACTICE. There are several ordinary things in this story that became sacred when spending time with Jesus, such as walking, listening, hearing stories, hospitality, hanging out in nature, breaking bread (eating), and celebration. Choose one or two of these today to be intentional in seeing Christ and “recognizing” the sacred in the ordinary.

PRAISE. Keep the Feast (Pascha Nostrum) by Liturgical Folk – Lyric Video. A fun new adaptation of an old Easter hymn. Very much a celebratory rather than somber.

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