April 25, 2023 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
EASTER 3/A (04/23/2023): Psalm 116:1-14; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35
And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself … When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it … And their eyes were opened … They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road … And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the Eleven gathered together and those who were with them. (vv. 27, 30, 31a, 33).
Jesus’ implied, unspoken, question to the disciples on the road was, “Where are you going?” Perhaps Emmaus was their home town, so that after three days of intensity, seeing their Lord crucified and hearing of a guarded but empty-tomb they may have parted Jerusalem for a less dangerous, less turbulent venue.
St. Luke focus’ on Jesus as “the Way”; more than the other evangelists his concern is Jesus’ travel and directional movements. Along this line, Jesus looks to his “exodus” from this world (Lk. 9:31), that on completing his work, mankind might follow and return with him to a new creation’s new garden more glorious than despoiled by Adam and the woman.
For us the implied question to the Emmaus disciples remains, “Where are you going when parting from brothers and sisters?” The Emmaus Two were first to receive Jesus’ Baptism with the Spirit (Jn. 1:33) leading to Holy Communion with the risen Lord. Through Jesus’ interpreted word, and Voice of the Spirit as “living water” (Jn. 3:6-8; 7:39) enlightenment unto faith was wrought in the eucharistic “breaking of the bread”. At this the disciples marveled, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us …?”
Here then is the Church reality which gives us pause to ask, “where are we going?” For the Emmaus Two, the answer, by a new and true understanding of Scripture to Eucharist, was their immediate return to the place now recognized as the synagogue of Jesus.
Today’s Introit lauds this place of God’s presence, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Ps. 133:1). Anxious to continue fellowship with the Lord, the Emmaus Two returned to the Eleven and those with them. (Parenthetically, the Eleven”, until they received Jesus’ Baptism were not yet “Apostles, Sent fishers of men”).
In the power of the Resurrection Jesus now baptized in earnest, not as JB with simple water, but with the “living water” of the Spirit for faith, purification, and spiritual enlightening from Him who is “Light of the world” (8:12).
Jesus’ Baptism moves us into the light, opening eyes to Scripture’s truth; lifting the veil from eyes formerly belonging to in the synagogue of Moses. Jesus scolds the Emmaus Two, “O foolish men, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Lk. 24:25).
Of Jewish failure to comprehend their own Scriptures Paul echoes Jesus, “But their minds were hardened; for to this day when they Read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is Read a veil lies over their heart; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed” (2 Cor. 3:14-16).
On return to Jerusalem, the Emmaus Two affirmed the women’s Resurrection testimony, that Jesus manifested himself to Peter, and taught them Scripture’s witness to himself that leads to the Lord’s Communion.
Gathered in the place of Presence, the disciples awaited their attested resurrected and ascended Lord. Thomas apparently parted their body, missing the Jesus’ Baptism of the Ten, breathing on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22).
For the sake of apostolic unity Jesus returned after eight days to baptize Thomas, out of phase by unbelief (Jn. 20:25). Dramatically, Jesus baptized Thomas with the HS, not by his breath, but having Thomas plunge into his crucified wounds, commending his eucharistic fidelity to his word, “This is my body which is for you ... This cup is the new covenant in my blood …” (1 Cor. 11:24b, 25).
The Apostles and disciples thus baptized through Jesus’ “living water” Spirit Voice, of blood and breath, the Church today inquires, “Where are you going if not continued enlightenment through Word and sacramental receipt?”
The crucifixion and resurrection uplifting are apex of heaven and earth’s history. Christian Baptism into that death and resurrection by the HS is forgiveness and joinder with heaven’s eternity and time and space in the life of the Church. In the Church we are on a new exodus journey with the Emmaus Two, returning to the place of our restoration, to a Garden intended “in the beginning” (Jn. 1:1).
On the road to Emmaus, the disciple hearts “burned” at Jesus’ teaching. Hearing God’s word in Truth and Spirit, they put aside errant rabbinical understandings; received new ears and opened eyes to Torah Truth. In the Resurrection, they and we hear Scripture for seeing Jesus as our Davidic king, envision God’s new creation coming into being, a new exodus for return to the Father, and entry into his garden for Communion.
The Day of Pentecost is the Church’s Jubilee (50th week) conclusion to her Easter season. On that day Peter, as Jesus did on the road to Emmaus unpacked the Scripture from Moses amid temple Jews (Acts 2:36-41): Christ crucified, resurrected, and present with his new Israel by the imparted HS.
The result of Peter’s preaching wrought burning and broken hearts among 3,000 temple “sons and daughters” who by the HS repentantly came to Christian Baptism and faith for forgiveness and new Torah allegiance.
Early on, the Church designated her mass as “the mass of the catechumens-Service of the Word”, and those being led to Baptism and fullness of faith at “her mass of the Sacrament of the Altar-Eucharist of Thanksgiving in Christ”.
Our Communion is not among buddies, friends, or relatives toward whom we have worldly affection. Rather our Communion is a new family participation whom the Lord declares to be, “My mother and my brothers” (Lk. 8:21); these are those privileged to handle and partake his resurrected and ascended flesh and blood. Amen.