After Easter (Post Resurrection)
The Emmaus Story - The Good News Is for Everyone
by Minerva Carcano
The resurrected Jesus had a busy day. It was Easter Sunday and Jesus had already
made three appearances. According to John, Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene
in the early dawn. Later that day, according to Luke, he had appeared to the two
walking to the village of Emmaus. In fact it is while the two men who had seen
Jesus on their way to Emmaus were reporting their experience to the disciples
and their companions in Jerusalem, that Jesus appears to them a third time. It
is as if Jesus was trying to cover all the bases - appearing to the women who
were in many ways on the periphery of the early faith community; to the
disciples on the way to Emmaus, only one whose name we know - minor characters
in the drama of faith; and to the 11 and their companions - the inner circle of
Jesus' followers. Jesus would continue to appear to his followers over the next
40 days, and as told by the book of Acts, give them convincing proofs of his
resurrection and speak to them of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
It is all so in character with Jesus' ministry and message - Jesus' appearances
tell us that the Good News of his Resurrection is for everyone. God's salvation
has come for all people. But it's a hard message to believe for anyone and so
patient Jesus takes time to help dispel the disciples unbelief. "Don't be afraid
and don't doubt," Jesus tells those disciples gathered together around the
dinner table in a home in Jerusalem. "Look at me," he says to them, inviting
them to look at his wounded hands and feet. I can see him extending his arms to
them and saying, "Touch me. Go ahead. You'll see that I'm no ghost, I'm real. I
am the same person that walked with you and taught you; that cried and laughed
with you; that scolded you but also affirmed you. It is me." The disciples were
filled with joy, so much so that their joy clouded their belief. Could it be?
Could their Master really be alive and with them?
A parishioner in a church I once served had not seen his family in over 20
years. There had been conflict. He had been hurt and decided to leave home and
never return. More than 20 years later he had a change of heart knowing that he
needed reconciliation with his family. He gathered up all his emotional strength
and returned home. His mother and sisters who had not had any word from him
during the long period of separation and had on occasion even wondered whether
he was dead, responded like the early followers of Jesus who first saw his
When the man arrived at his home the family was startled and fearful. They had
not expected to ever see him again and they remembered the conflict that had
separated them. Was it really him? Was he back for revenge? They wondered. But
finally, their pain became joy, the joy of disbelief this son and brother lived
and had returned to them. Throughout their visit the mother and sisters would
say to him, "We can't believe its you," and would touch him and hug him for a
sense of verification that it was him.
It was that way, and much more so with the disciples and Jesus. They had seen
Jesus crucified. Many of them had abandoned him in that hour. Some had stayed
and heard his last breath. They had removed him from the cross and felt the cold
numbness of his stiff dead body. They had laid him in the tomb and closed it
shut. They were all at that very moment in the pit of grief over his death. And
yet, here he was before them, warm flesh and bone with a hungry belly asking
them for fish! It was of course all for their benefit.
"Peace be with you," had been Jesus' first words to those whom he met in
Jerusalem on that night. It had always been for their benefit. Jesus' life and
ministry, his crucifixion and death, and now his resurrection. It was for them,
and it is for us; that peace might come to us as we are reconciled with God and
with each other. It was imperative that those early disciples know and
understand the meaning of what had transpired through Jesus in those days. Just
as it is imperative that we know and understand in this day and age.
And so Jesus in Resurrection life as he had done time and again in earthly life,
taught them reminding them of the lessons of sacred Scripture - Moses' law, the
words of the prophets, the guiding, comforting, and exhorting psalms. Along the
way Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand.
I remember a conversation with my grandmother Sofia about understanding
Scripture and Jesus. She was crocheting and I was sitting at her feet reading a
portion of scripture aloud. It was her nightly devotional time that she shared
with me whenever I would spend the night in her home. I was a child, but already
wondering how on earth I would ever understand the meaning of the Holy Word we
were reading. How would I know absolutely that Jesus was real. My wise
grandmother, unshaken by my questioning, simply said, "Pray. Pray asking Jesus
to open your mind to what he has to teach you and fill your heart with him."
Even today her lesson always guides my first step as I approach the study of
God's Holy Word, and God is always faithful giving me a measure of understanding
and filling me with the presence of Jesus every time. It was an excellent lesson
and one that I have come to know was Jesus' own lesson to his disciples.
Through his loving care and grace-filled presence in their lives. Jesus taught
the disciples. He taught them that things had occurred as had been planned - his
suffering and his rising from the dead. But it had not been for suffering's sake
or for a dramatic display of power. There was a purpose to Jesus' death; an
eternal message in his resurrection. Jesus had lived, been crucified, died and
been buried to rise on the third day so that all of God's people, every single
nation upon the face of the earth, would repent of their sins in the knowledge
that in Jesus' name they would find forgiveness, and peace would come upon them.
I do marvel at Jesus' patience. For three years Jesus had taught the disciples
this lesson through parables and miracles, through long hours of teaching and
days of teaching and days of journeying with them showing them the way. And now
even after proving that he has conquered death, he must still explain the
message of faith again. Jesus patience is a patience born of love. It is like
the patience of a good mother, a good father, a good and faithful older brother.
It is the patience of God who never loses the hope of having her children return
home to her. It is indeed a family matter and the entire family must be told the
Jesus told the disciples, "You are my witnesses of these things". What they had
known and seen of Jesus needed to be told to others, beginning from Jerusalem
and extending to all the nations.
A 9-year-old girl named Erica was so filled with joy when she came to know Jesus
that she insisted that all her friends know him too. One day she took me to her
neighborhood to invite the children to a vacation bible school our church was
having. We went with colorful flyers in hand. I expected that we would tell the
children and their parents about the dates and time and place of the vacation
bible school, leave them a flyer as a reminder, and be on our way. Erica saw our
job differently. When we got to the first home and the door was opened she
stepped right up and said, "We've got great news about Jesus and my pastor will
tell you all about it." I stood there flabbergasted, but she was right. Our job
was first and foremost to spread the Word, proclaim the Good News, tell others
about our Risen Lord. Erica and I worked hard that day because she did not want
any child in her neighborhood to miss out in hearing about Jesus and the
vacation bible school. Erica knew in her own way, Jesus' claim on our lives and
the magnitude of that claim. We are Jesus' witnesses and those who need to
receive our witness is the entire human family.
Those early disciples were the first blessed by the privilege of having in their
hearts, minds and souls, in their hopes and dreams, the Good News of the
Resurrected Christ in whom there is salvation. Those who believe in every
generation join them in that blessed privilege.
The Lord is Risen, he lives among us, blessing us with his presence and his
spirit, and empowering us to be his witnesses. Let us be faithful to the task
sharing the Good News with all people. And all praise be to God now and always.
About the Author
Bishop Minerva Carcano is the bishop of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference
of the United Methodist Church.
copyright © by Bishop Minerva Carcano
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