Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if He were going farther, but they urged Him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And He vanished from their sight.
Maybe a meal wakes the imagination to what we thought food could do. Perhaps this spring you’ve caught sight of a blue jay’s tail and marveled at its colored symmetry, like seeing it for the first time. Or perchance you prepared a family favorite for Easter—deviled eggs or shortcake—and the smells of the kitchen reminded you of cherished time with family and you felt renewed. From the most mystic of us to the most pragmatic: magic, imagination, and wonder appeal to us all. Whether we watch scary movies, read historical fiction, play video games, or hunt exotic game; we crave otherworldliness. It may come in a flight of fancy or a stalwart curiosity, but we all finger-poke into the cellophane of the matrix in some way.
When the seen gives way to the unseen, when our experiences or hobbies give way to an ineffable quality, we are put in-touch with the eternal. Whether we know this rationally or intuitively, all our desires and dreams are infinite, at root. This is because we are eternal beings, created by an infinite God, to be forever satisfied. God created in an abundance of Himself, life is grace, and all is gift. We were designed for flourishing by means of God’s way.
Yet, as eternal beings with endless appetites, surrounded by flowering grace, we demand that we enjoy God’s gifts as we choose. This unsavory rebellion is sin—our human propensity to screw things up. The consequence of this treason before God is exile. Adam and Eve learned this in the Garden. Consequently, we as heirs of their insubordination lead lives of pushing God further and further out of our business. We sit at a peculiar time in history where God has been pushed from our world and persons. Man now assumes that we functionally sustain ourselves. The exile of sin has made us strangers to this world and to ourselves.
St. Augustine is credited with saying, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” What makes his concession interesting is that surrender is a confession of what is already true. BUT how do we practice the necessary surrender and confession required for return from exile? How do we rest?
Scripture is God’s Word spoken like His first words of creation, “Let there be light and truth in the midst of chaos and ruin.” Scripture preaches the good news of what is already true about God’s world. Proclamation of scripture is participation with God’s remaking of this world that sin has plunged into turmoil. God’s word gives us the means by which we may know repentance, whereby we know peace.
The road to Emmaus scene in St. Luke’s Gospel provides those who seek rest the beating heart of the Scriptures. The way back to something-like-Eden walks through Emmaus. The journey out of rebellion begins at Passover in Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus is the way, out of exile and into wholeness. Scripture offers us a person (He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself). The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. Because of the incarnation and redeeming work of Christ, our relationship to God’s word must account for truth Himself in its stories, poems, and letters. Our rebellion and exile matches that of Adam and what follows. It is confounded by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
Another surprising detail of this story in Luke 24 is the fact that “Christ was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Along with interpreting all of scripture to be about Him, Christ also opened the eyes of man to God’s creation. The bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper offers us a person. In John 6, Jesus preaches the peculiar reality that He was the bread from heaven by which the Israelites were nourished in their wilderness wandering. Only in Jesus can the words of Psalm 34 be fulfilled, because the meal of thanksgiving lets us “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” Word and Sacrament give us Christ. Both are essential to our Christian pilgrimage.
What other manifold means of God’s creation like that of bread and wine nudge us to our Savior? It may be in slowing our pace long enough to enjoy a leisure walk, glass of wine, or good book. The near occasion of Easter’s resurrection celebration may have us considering how Spring tells the story of Jesus. The earth flowers into new life and we are reminded of recreation and renewal. We are made intimately aware of God’s in-breaking, feeling like we are seeing green and floral for the first time all over again. What is this newness that is so ancient? What is this bouncing energy that is firm and yet fresh? It is our God renewing creation through His Son, Jesus (See G.M. Hopkins “Spring” for further reading—my thoughts are a footnote to this poem).