Luke 23:13 Now on that same day two of (Jesus’ disciples) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened (Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion). 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him… 28 As they came near the village to which they were going, (Jesus) walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
Each time I read this story, or other stories describing Jesus’ appearance after his resurrection, I wonder why so many people initially fail to recognize who he is. This was true of women who visited his tomb on the morning of his resurrection, these disciples walking with him on the road to Emmaus, or other disciples seeing him while they were fishing. There are a couple of possibilities that come to mind as to why this happened.
First, it could be that Jesus simply looked very different after his resurrection. The people before whom he was appearing had seen him many times before. There’s nothing to suggest that their vision was impaired and the bible texts give no explanation. Makes me wonder if we too will look different after we are raised from the dead.
A contributing factor may be the fact that people didn’t expect to see Jesus after his death. I mean, Jesus was brutalized, beaten, broken before he actually died. At the very least one would have expected to see evidence of this brutality in Jesus appearance after his resurrection. Right? I don’t know.
Ultimately we are left to guess at these things. What we DO know is that Jesus was revealed to the disciples in the breaking of the bread. There is something powerful present in the Lord’s Supper. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. Some of the most poignant moments of my pastoral ministry have occurred in the consecration and distribution of communion. It’s a holy and sacred act we do in community. And, in a very real way, Jesus comes to us through bread and wine each time we come to the Lord’s table.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Amen.