Up until about 3 years ago, the only TV we had in our home was one of the old tube-style units. It was almost 3 feet thick from front to back. Suddenly one day we turned it on and nothing happened. To make a long story short, Julia and I went down and bought a flat screen TV. When we finally had it set up and turned on I was amazed. We thought we had been getting a sharp picture with the old set, but now the HD image was unbelievable. The picture was so crisp that our dog tried to attack some wolves that were on the screen running toward us.
How often do we think we are seeing clearly when in reality we are not? How often are our eyes opened to new perceptions and understandings? One of the great resurrection stories in the Bible concerns two friends who are walking toward the town of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). As they walk together, Jesus comes and walks with them, but they do not recognize him. They cannot see him clearly.
Two things happen in the story which allow the friends to “see clearly.” First, they show kindness to the unknown traveler, and second he breaks the bread in their presence. Ron Adams is a pastor in Pennsylvania who wrote about this story. He reminds us that the two followers almost let Jesus get away. He says: “But their sense of hospitality came to the rescue, and they invited the eloquent stranger to spend the night in their home. The stranger took some bread in his hand, blessed it and broke it, and suddenly the two companions recognized Jesus and raced back to town to tell their friends that they’d met him.”
“Perhaps it was the manner in which he broke the bread, or the familiar way he blessed it. Perhaps something more mystical happened, some kind of transfiguration that made plain the identity of their guest. However it happened, Jesus was revealed and the faith of the two companions was nourished.”
Whenever I think about the bread being broken, I think of all that it symbolizes: Jesus’ own self giving, humility, compassion, and love. The story reminds me that when we attempt to embody these qualities, and when we practice the hospitality and kindness displayed by the two friends, that we too are better able to “see clearly” the Risen One who walks with us.