Journey to Emmaus: The First Step
Journey to Emmaus: The First Step
Words of Faith 2-22-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.
The thing we often fail to see in the Easter story is the confusion and pain. We think that Easter is a great day of celebration but Sunday in Jerusalem after the crucifixion was a time fraught with confusion, fear and pain for the disciples of Jesus. The tomb was empty, but no one knew why. Jesus was gone, but no one knew where.
As we read the other Gospel accounts, we discover that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene that morning. Matthew says He also appeared to the other women. But when this Good News came to the disciples they did not believe it. They thought it was crazy talk. Peter simply "went away" wondering what had happened. He probably wandered the roads for a while in a stunned state.
We know that things won't stay this way but the question is this: How do we get from such confusion to an encounter with the living Christ? From confusion to conviction? Bewilderment to belief. Fear to faith? Pain to persuasion?
Luke is the only Gospel writer who gives us this wonderful story of the journey to Emmaus. It is a story about two of the "outside" disciples. Luke knew what it was like to be an outside disciple. Perhaps that is why he listened to this story and brought it to us. Cleopas and his unnamed companion were disciples more on the periphery of things. They were not chosen to be among the Twelve who were called Apostles, but they had followed the ministry of Jesus. They came to Jerusalem that week from their home in Emmaus. One ancient tradition tells us that Cleopas was an uncle of Jesus, the brother of Joseph and that he later became a leader in the Jerusalem church, but we don't know for sure.
Most important is that Luke provides for us a model for the journey of spiritual discovery, the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is a powerful spiritual pilgrimage in the geography of the soul. Jerusalem is place where sobering sacrifice leads first to confusing pain. Emmaus is a place where everything comes clear. Emmaus is a place of perspective. Sometimes just getting a little distance from our pain is most helpful. Jerusalem to Emmaus is a physical journey of seven miles that begins in confusion and ends in elation. It starts in disappointment and ends in revelation. It starts without knowledge of anything-- and ends with a face to face encounter with the living Christ. How do we get there?
A careful reading reveals seven steps in the journey that measures seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We will look at these steps over the next few days.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. Every journey must begin. There must be a first step. We must start. These two disciples set out on a two to three hour walk late in the afternoon. How do you begin to recover from a place of disappointment or pain? You start. It is that simple.
Where do we start? They started out with another. They did not go at this journey alone. One of the big mistakes we often make when we are disappointed or hurt is that we isolate ourselves. These two set out on a journey together. Peter went off by himself. He would eventually be restored but it took a much longer period of time. We need to find another and start the journey.
We might even ask: Am I qualified to start the journey? Don't I have to do something to get ready for a spiritual discovery? The only qualification is to be confused or disappointed, or unsure or frightened, or even just disillusioned or skeptical. The key is to start. That is the first step.
For all the confusion of that week in Jerusalem these two did not give up. They did not despair. They started over again. They headed home. That is truly the direction of our spiritual quest. We all yearn to go home if we understand "home" as that place of spiritual wholeness with God. That is where these two were really headed.
The most difficult step in a journey of many miles is the first one. Just getting started on the journey of faith, especially when we feel defeated, can be terribly difficult. These two felt defeated. We know that this was a day of great victory, but they did not know that. The hardest thing to do when you are defeated is to get up and get going.
They could have just stayed in Jerusalem but they did not. We often get stuck in our lives because we think we are leashed. These guys did not know exactly what the future would hold but they were going there. They were going to work this out.
Here is a question. Have you been stuck? Have you been disillusioned or disappointed, hurt or perplexed, unsure or frightened? The journey starts with a first step. Is there someone or someplace that you need to find in order to start the journey of discovering the wonder of God's Life and Resurrection?
Do you know someone who is stuck? The key is not jump to the end of the journey. Don't push the complicated stuff. The key is to begin. Invite that person to take the first step with you. The journey is not about getting all the theology right. That sort of thing will come later. The key is to start. For some, that first step can be so hard.
Father, thank You for the journey of spiritual discover and healing that we find in Jesus. Thank You for the gentle journey called Emmaus. Help me to take the first step. Help me to invite another who is stuck to take the first step. In Jesus' name.