Today’s Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion is based on Luke 24:13-35. As a special inclusion, we have a “bonus” The Season in Song video which shows clips of Easter Sunday celebration in Botswana. Communication and Projects Manager, Rick Steenbock, is traveling with our partner church body, The Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherisch Kirche (SELK) through South Africa as officials from the Lutherische Kirchen Mission (LKM, the mission arm of SELK) visit their missionaries there. Rick is assisting our partner church in creating communication materials. He shares a portion of what he has taken with us today as a supplement to the devotion (see below, after the devotion, for more about the video). You can also see a glimpse of Good Friday in Botswana here.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find His body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 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. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:13-35 ESV).
On Holy Saturday, we talked about God’s silence and on Easter Sunday, we saw that God’s silence was broken as Jesus burst forth from the tomb, victorious over death. In this beautiful passage from Luke, which is one of my personal favorites, we see Jesus’ mouth that was once stopped by death, teaching once again. He covers the entire Biblical witness to Himself during their walk. Certainly, this is no longer silence, rather quite the opposite. It’s downright loquaciousness. Beginning with Moses, that is, beginning with The Beginning, Jesus shows the two disciples that the entire Scriptures are about Him and His suffering and death.
Here they are, having waited for God to break His silence, walking right next to the resurrected Lord, AND THEY DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT. And Luke tells us that this was on purpose: “their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” God wanted them to be blind! At least for the moment, God did not want them to know it was Jesus. After all, they’re still looking for the Jesus who will save Israel, possibly for some sort of earthly victorious Jesus. They’re looking for the wrong Jesus. And so, even as they hear the entire Scriptures expounded to them, even as they respond to this very strongly (they explain later that their hearts were “burning”), they still do not realize who it is who teaches so powerfully, insightfully and authoritatively. They do not know with whom they are walking.
Often we, too, are blind to the things of God. We do not search the Scriptures and see our Lord and Savior crucified and raised for us. No, we see principles for living or confusing ideas, or things to argue over with one another. We read Scripture through the lens of experience or life application. This makes us blind. But Jesus opens our eyes the same way He did for Cleopas and His companion: He breaks bread for us. He breaks the bread of His body, given for us and in the breaking of the bread we see our Savior. It is at the moment that Jesus breaks the bread that God opens the eyes of Cleopas and the other disciple. This is no accident. Jesus is recognized in His gracious activity on our behalf. Through the lens of His gifts of body and blood in, with and under bread and wine, we see Jesus as He is meant to be seen: as the crucified and risen One. Through the lens of the Lord’s gracious gifts to us, we hear the Word of God, and in it we see Jesus. Not a Jesus of our own making. Not a justice Jesus, or a Jesus that helps us have a better life, or a Jesus that helps us be a better person. We see THE Jesus. The crucified and risen One who makes us partakers of His death and life in our Baptisms and in His Holy Supper.
Let us Pray:
For Your consoling Supper, Lord,
Be praised throughout all ages!
Preserve it, for in every place
The world against it rages.
Grant that this sacrament may be
A blessed comfort unto me
When living and when dying (LSB 622:8). Amen.
- Pray for the missionaries, congregations, and pastors in Botswana and all of South Africa, that they would be strengthened and refreshed through the gifts of the God.
- Pray for Rick as he continues to travel.
- From Rick about the video:
“The weekend long gathering of the Lutheran Church in Botswana culminated with a Sunday morning Easter Service. As the pastor in attendance processed into the tent carrying the cross, the congregation sang along with great passion. The congregation is always willing to add additional songs to the worship when it feels led to do so. This means the service is full of music and even dancing between liturgy, scripture readings and some times even in the middle of the sermon!. After Holy Communion, the children’s choir sang and then Rev. Roger Zieger, Mission Director, LKM, gave a brief message and greeting from our partner church, the SELK.The church in Botswana is actually a district or diocese of our partner church in South Africa. The mission started in Botswana more than 150 years ago. We praise God for all who have served in His mission.He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”