Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)
Verse 13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, Verse 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. Verse 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, Verse 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Verse 17And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Verse 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" Verse 19He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, Verse 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. Verse 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Verse 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, Verse 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Verse 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Verse 25Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Verse 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Verse 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. Verse 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. Verse 29But 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. Verse 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Verse 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. Verse 32They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" Verse 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. Verse 34They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Verse 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Traveling from Washington State to South Dakota, we took a route through North Dakota. Near Medora we stopped. As we were looking around a visitors center, a man came up and said, “Hi, Gary, what are you doing here?” Who was this guy? No idea. He must have noticed my bewilderment, because he said, “Jim. Your cousin.” Of course it was. But I did not recognize him because he should not have been there. He lives in Rugby, not Medora. We live in South Dakota. What are the odds? Same place, same day, same time? He should not have been there.
Neither one of them should have been there. Jim or Jesus.
For those disciples, it’s all past tense. “He was a prophet.” “We had hoped.” Of course they did not recognize him. He should not have been there. But he was. And then, in the midst of their bewilderment, when the scriptures are opened, when the bread is broken, they recognize him.
We still do.
O Master, let me walk with you in lowly paths of service true; tell me your secrets; help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care. Amen. (ELW 818)