Luke 24:21-37

Readings for this week May 13 – 17
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Day 1 – “What Do You Want Me To Do For You?”

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:21-27

“Having our hopes dashed leaves us in a very tender place indeed. Having our hopes dashed means that at one time we had actually allowed ourselves to have hope! We got in touch with something we really wanted, and we let it matter to us a great deal. As the possibility of achieving that desire became more and more real, it was more than just a dream; we could actually picture it, and we found ourselves leaning in and living as though that thing might really happen. Perhaps it even became the organising principle of our lives. That’s how desire works, and it is very powerful – much more powerful than oughts, shoulds and momentary inspirations.

Jesus understood this. He knew that if people got in touch with their true spiritual desires it would change their lives, so he encouraged them to pay attention to desire and then actually speak it out loud in his presence! When two disciples of John started to follow Jesus, he turned to them and said, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)….

“What do you want me to do for you?” is actually the question Jesus asked most frequently in the New Testament. He knew that being in touch with desire has the potential to shape decisions and affect the overall trajectory and outcomes of a person’s life. Desire, rightly identified, and effectively harnessed, eventually gives way to the hope that we desire really could come to pass and the faith to live as though it were real. The spiritual journey deepens as we discover the longing and desires God has placed within us and that God himself longs to meet (Psalm 37:4).” (Ruth Haley Barton, Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community, pp.71-2.)

Questions to Consider
When have you hoped for something, only to have those hopes dashed? What have you done with that experience? How has it changed your hope?

Prayer
Lord God, meet me in my dashed hopes and my disappointments. Help me find the truly deep longings of my heart and seek to find their fulfilment only in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – An Encounter With the Risen Lord

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:28-29

Jesus continued on, as if he were going further. If he continued on, he is going further. Why say it twice? Leaving translation issues aside, this opens up the nice possibility of Jesus continuing his disguise, making as if he is carrying on, but secretly seeing if his followers might invite this stranger to stay and dine with them. It’s certainly a possibility. “These two have been around me for a long time and heard me preach and seen my concern for all people, the poor, the marginalised, and the stranger. Let’s see if they’ve learnt anything about kingdom hospitality in this time.” I don’t know. But just think: What would’ve happened if they had not invited Jesus to eat with them? What would the consequences of that have been?

Because the key point here is that the thing that eventually got these two disciples up and running back to Jerusalem and to the other disciples was not the detailed exposition of scripture. Though that was no doubt vital, and greatly contributed to their understanding – their new understanding – of what was going on. It wasn’t an intellectual understanding that Jesus had risen, or the connection of what they were learning on the road with what the women and Peter had disclosed earlier. No, it was the personal encounter with Jesus at the table that did it, that moment of personal recognition where suddenly they know Jesus and they know themselves again. If they don’t invite him in, then maybe that encounter, that deep knowing encounter, not a meeting or an introduction, but personal encounter, doesn’t happen.

Question to Consider
What chance encounters have you had that led to a renewed recognition of Jesus?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me look for, and be open to, those chance moments of grace that can so easily be missed or overlooked. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Taking/Giving Control

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:30

For anyone who thought Jesus was being a bit rude when he interrupted the two disciples’ conversation on the road, what he does at the table in a stranger’s house will seem equally as shocking. Even though Jesus taking the bread and blessing and breaking it provided the moment of recognition for the disciples, it was also something that, technically, Jesus should not have been doing in the first place. The disciples had invited Jesus in as their guest, but when it comes time to eat it now seems as if Jesus has usurped the role of host. He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and passed it around – tasks traditionally performed by the host, the head of the house, as an act of welcome, of hospitality and a way of showing one’s place as the head of the household, the one who decides what happens in his own house.

This is another moment on the road between the now and the not yet. We are not in charge. We think we are, we believe that because it is our life it is completely under our control, and that our relationship with Jesus is under our control too. It is not. At every point, whether we acknowledge it or not (and it is far better if we do!) Jesus is the one guiding and controlling and empowering our journey. Not us. He held back on the road; as a stranger he was deferential while he let the disciples pour out their grief. But at the table, with the bread in his hands, he took his rightful place as their teacher, Messiah and master, giving them everything they needed, showing himself as the risen Lord.

Questions to Consider
In what small ways do we fail to give Jesus control of our lives? How can we change this?

Prayer
Loving Father, help me submit more of myself to you. Help me learn the ways of greater submission and deeper trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – A Moment of Recognition

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:31-32

The real moment of recognition and reversal was the moment when Jesus broke the bread. Not only is this the fitting recognition moment for this gospel, since Jesus spent so much time at tables and used the great banquet as a primary metaphor for God’s kingdom, but it foreshadows the life of the church then and now, where Jesus’ followers break bread in remembrance of their king.

Their recognition of Jesus came from the events themselves, from his repetition of a familiar act in a plausible setting, and the moment of recognition was also a reversal of their state of mind. Put the moment of recognition on the road, when they saw Jesus, or at some point in his exposition of scripture, then subsequent believers could only wish they had been present. Like those who went to look at the empty tomb after hearing the testimony of the women, we might have been able only to testify to what we had not seen. But “he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread”; all of us who repeat the meal as he commanded can have this experience.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said “Perhaps the reason why we attach so much importance to sitting down to table together is that table fellowship is one of the realities of the Kingdom of God.” We know Jesus and are known by Jesus at the table. That is where recognition comes, around the table. The simple, yet vital, act of eating. It is where we can know Jesus.

Questions to Consider
Where do you recognise Jesus in your life? How do you meet him around the table?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, may I see every little, regular, ordinary moment of my life as a potential moment of grace and recognition. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Unbelievable Hope

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 24:33-37

Can you imagine the scene as the few remaining followers of Jesus excitedly talk about what they have seen and heard throughout the day now ending? The women who went to the body-less tomb; Peter’s visit to the empty tomb, and then a personal (off-screen) appearance of the risen Jesus to Peter; and finally the story from the road to Emmaus – the excitement and bewilderment in the room would have been palpable, as these people, once so lost and devastated, now found reason to believe that all they had hoped about Jesus – and so much more besides – might actually be true after all.

What had started off as rumour was now fact. Hopes that had been dashed were now born anew, especially when Jesus himself appeared in the midst of all them. “Peace be with you.” He might just as well have said “Hope be with you.” Yet even with all they had already experienced, and the conversations some of them had had with Jesus, and the excitement that had seen two of them immediately turn back and retrace a journey they had just taken in order to share their story with others, they still couldn’t quite believe he was really there. Further explanation would be needed in order for those first followers of Jesus to fully understand the true extent of the hope that was, literally, embodied in Jesus – a hope that would transform their lives, and transform the lives of all those soon to hear the amazing story that would ripple out from that upper room, offering love and peace and hope to all. Hope is just the beginning.

Questions to Consider
Have you ever felt like the disciples do here? When? Why?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for staying with me, even in my doubt and unbelief: for those times when your limitless love holds me close. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)