Morning and hello to you. Julia here today.
I wanted to look at a post-empty tomb part of the Easter story this morning: the Road to Emmaus. A couple of Jesus’ followers travelled miserably along, not knowing what to think following the death of their friend and reports from the women who found his tomb empty. They were met by no other than Jesus himself, though they didn’t recognise him till later. Jesus proceeded to explain the whole Old Testament to them, and how it shows that Jesus would die and then rise up to life again.
I’m sure loads of people would love to hear exactly what Jesus said and how he explained it. However, Jesus’ followers helpfully opted not to write it down! But why??
I was thinking about this, and I wondered: perhaps the explanation wasn’t the most important thing – Jesus was. The fact they met Jesus after they thought they’d lost him, the time he devoted to spending with them, and the new strength, understanding and ability to process what had happened that his words brought them is what the author chose to share with us.
That is the bit the author wanted to give us to make use of in our own lives and understanding of Jesus, because those are the things also available to us.
Often when we look back at memories, we don’t always remember all of the specifics, but we’re likely to remember how the event/situation/person made us feel. That very much stays with us. In Luke 24:32, the followers say that “It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.”
I don’t think the followers actually *forgot* what Jesus said – I think it sounds precious enough to stay with them all their lives. But it is the amazing, soaring feeling of engaging in conversation with Jesus that is shared with us. Because that’s the bit which is all the more relevant to us because we can have that too.
What the followers and the author chose to focus on shows us what their priorities were: the relationship they had with Jesus. This doesn’t mean that the Scriptures and the reasoning and everything weren’t important – I did theology at uni because I love looking into the meanings and theories and implications of stuff. But my love of theology, for me, comes from finding new ways to understand God and engage with his actions in the world. Again, for me it comes back to the relationship behind the explanation.
The key idea I get from this passage then, is prioritising our relationship with Jesus. Be that in general life, or in the context of figuring out how to understand/process our situation.
However, the act of “prioritising” shouldn’t be one that’s filled with guilt. So often, we might worry that we haven’t spent enough time with God, we haven’t spent enough time praying, we haven’t done enough, we haven’t been enough. We haven’t earned God’s love, and need to catch up on it.
I don’t reckon God thinks of it like that…
On the road to Emmaus, the followers don’t end up prioritising their relationship with Jesus because of some pious, disciplined decision. It is just their natural reaction to seeing him! God loves spending time with us. And arguably there is a place for developing habits and routines that help us have space to spend time with God, but this shouldn’t come out of guilt but out of joy – the joy of knowing how God loves us, the joy of being able to engage with that love and experiencing the life that it gives us.
There are various posts going round Facebook saying that the current situation with lockdown means that it’s the perfect time to learn a new skill, or do something brilliantly productive. For some people that might be great, but for many of us that brings a lot of pressure and guilt, especially when there is so much to cope with and process without feeling bad about not learning Japanese.
God doesn’t ask us to do things out of guilt. I don’t ring my mum because I feel I should – I talk to her because she is an angelic, wonderful delight. (Anyone who has met her can confirm.) In a similar way, when we sit with God, I don’t reckon he thinks “about time I get what I’m owed”- rather it gives us both a chance to see God’s amazing, burning, calming, beautiful love for us. And the life it gives us.
Let’s spend a bit of time sat in that love. Here is a song to listen to while you do so.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXG-ENFAvl8
May we remember God is with us, whatever today has in store for us. Amen!
Bonus! As I was thinking about the followers on the road to Emmaus saying Jesus told them this amazing explanation but omitting to actually share what he said, I was reminded of a poignant song that illustrates this beautifully: Best Song Ever by One Direction. The storyline is that the protagonist dances with a girl to the best song ever, and finds afterwards that although he’s forgotten the song, he’ll never forget the girl (named Georgia Rose). I realise no one will really want to listen to this except me, so thought I’d shove it on the end. Enjoy! Or ignore and crack on with your day, whichever 🙂