Rembrandt, Pilgrims at Emmaus, 1648

Rembrandt, Pilgrims at Emmaus, 1648

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

Jesus is raised from the dead in a great earthquake with angels and awestruck roman guards. The disciples run to see the empty tomb. He appears through walls and causes miraculous catches of fish. He shows his wounds to the doubter, he restores sinful Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee.

And he walks from one town to the next with two friends.

The miracle of the resurrection is farfetched to say it lightly. Jesus seems keenly aware of this when he meets two of his good friends as they walk to Emmaus together. Their failure to recognise him is a kind of set-up as Jesus goes on to allow those who had been travelling with him to tell all they knew. Yet there was more than the events which had surrounded Jesus' death which pointed to his identity. Jesus goes on to explain all the Old Testament scriptures which testify to the identity of the Messiah, the Promised One from God. 

But still they did not fully understand. They knew they wanted this apparent stranger to stay with them, so they invite him over for the night.

The stranger Jesus had given them reasons from the Scriptures as to who he was and what he came on earth to do, yet they still did not recognise him!

The revelation of the truth of who Jesus is, comes when he shares bread and wine with his old friends. These people who had known him for years, had seen his miracles and witnessed the extraordinary events around his death needed still to be shown through the plain things of bread and wine, shown that Jesus was who he said he was.

This is why the church has always gathered around the breaking of bread and blessing of the cup. No matter what miracles, wonders, extraordinary exposition of Scripture or intimate worship we share together it seems that Christ is best known through communion. 

As we are present, witnessing the celebration of communion, it is perhaps more true to say that in that moment Christ is present with us, just as he was at Emmaus. As we eat and drink our sight becomes clear and we see Jesus for who he truly is.

“The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.