March 04, 2015

When Jesus Shows Up

Luke 24:13-19

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

—  Luke 24:15-16

In today's reading we find Cleopas and his companion, perhaps his wife, trudging home from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Easter Sunday. Crucified on Friday, Jesus' body turned up missing from his tomb on Sunday morning. Our friends on the Emmaus road are two dejected disciples with nothing left to do but head home.

As they discuss these strange events, a stranger joins them. We know he is Jesus resurrected, but they don't. Jesus asks what they're talking about, and they tell him what little they know. Even before the whole drama unfolds, we learn an important lesson: when we least expect it, Jesus can show up, un­invited, unrecognized, and perhaps even unwelcomed—at least at first.

Our friends have been talking about Jesus, and now they are walking with him. One danger of discipleship is talking the talk without walking the walk. Even the most serious saint can at times be overwrought and unaware of Christ's presence.

Here's the good news for Lent: no matter how discouraged or distracted we may get, Jesus walks with us. Maybe he shows himself in the moment, but I find that he's more often "seen" or "heard" in hindsight. As the Emmaus travelers are about to learn, we can improve our faith journey by looking for him in the past as well as the present.

Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to burn with faith and joy today as we walk and talk with Jesus. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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