Even after his death, in his resurrection appearances, Jesus turned the social order upside down. He didn’t first appear to the male disciples, to Peter, or the twelve. His resurrection was revealed to the women first. I wonder how the men felt about that? But that is what Jesus represents throughout the gospels: those considered least become first. Who in our society would be put first by Jesus?
Sometimes assumptions and preconceived ideas can stop us seeing the good that is right in front of us. Many of those who witnessed Jesus’ death just couldn’t comprehend how the anointed one of God could be brutally put to death on a cross. He was meant to march in, trample on the enemy and rule the world in favour of Israel. He was their hope for liberation. Yet, in Jesus, God went further and deeper. A new transformed life offered to everyone: each of us part of the reign of God through the Holy Spirit. Not through destruction and violence, but through service and sacrifice. The ultimate gift to the world: a life laid down. There is no greater love than that!
Retelling the Exodus story is central to the Jewish faith: its heart is Passover, remembering time and time again a past where they were slaves, oppressed and exploited by Egyptian rulers. Then remembering God’s faithfulness: Moses, God’s chosen messenger, leading them to freedom. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the liberation of God’s people from slavery in Egypt is remembered time and time again. It is a vital story of hope. Those alive at Jesus’ time would have been well-versed in this story. But more than this, they hoped for a greater Moses; someone who would once again lead them to freedom. Their hope was found in Jesus, the new Moses. This is why the gospel writers go to such an extent to point out the parallels between Moses and Jesus (i.e. through the Red Sea/through water of baptism, 40 years/40 days in the wilderness, both had rulers attempt to kill them as a child). Jesus, as the new Moses, God’s holy one, liberates us from all that enslaves us. Whatever’s holding you back, hand it to God and find new freedom!
There is no greater gift than the time spent with loved ones around a table. Food, conversation, humour are the marks of time well spent with friends or family. The two walking to Emmaus did not know the person they were walking with, yet they knew it was important he was invited in and not allowed to wander late in the evening. Good, warm hospitality is a key mark of healthy communities. Throughout the pages of scripture we find time and time again people providing food, shelter and care for others—even for those they do not know. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had that warm hospitality offered to me so many times by church friends. While we might not be able to meet together just now, when we’re on the other side of this, let’s commit to more table fellowship, where we get to know each other with food, conversation and humour.
When Christ is in us and we look to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our hearts burn with joy as we understand the wonder and depth of scripture. It is through the Wisdom of God that we truly find life and light in the words of scripture. Jesus did this for the two walking to Emmaus: he unlocked what they did not understand and their hearts burned. Ask Jesus to unlock scripture for you.
We too know Christ through the breaking of bread when we partake in the Lord’s Supper. At this time, we hunger for the moment we’re able to meet together and receive Holy Communion. Until then, when you next take a slice of bread, know that we will meet again and break bread together.