Our Easter message starts with a sad story.
It is about the journey of two disciples in the late afternoon of that first Easter Sunday.
To them, it is "Black Sunday."
Two of Jesus' followers are walking down the road from Jerusalem, to the town of Emmaus,
seven miles northwest of the city.
They are in a deep discussion!
But it's not happy talk.
It is not uplifting or positive.
Really bad things have taken place in Jerusalem.
A stranger approaches them.
They do not recognize Him.
He has overheard them as they walk along.
He asks, "What are you talking about?"
"Haven't you heard? Our leader, Jesus, the One on whom we placed all our hopes, has been crucified.
It could have been so great!
He would have kicked out the Romans, cleaned up the Temple leadership, really turned things around!
But now...." (And the words trail off in silence).
"To be sure," begins the other, "Some of the women reported
they had been to the tomb this morning. They said that Jesus is not dead.
We went to the tomb; it was empty, but, well... you know how those things go...."
And then, the conversation closes with deep and profound sighs.
It seems nothing can shake the sadness from them.
So the three walk along as this stranger talks with them.
In fact, He discusses God's Word with them.
Their hearts are touched!
As dusk begins to fall and they are near their destination.
This stranger appears to move on... toward a different route.
Can't you imagine the whispered conversation between Cleopas and his friend: "We can't let him go on."
So they ask: "Stay with us, for it is toward the evening and the day is now far spent."
He accepts their invitation!
At the evening meal, He takes the bread, and blesses it.
The He breaks it and gives it to them.
Then, the unexpected happens!
The mysterious moment of divine revelation happens.
After Jesus disappears, they begin to remember the time on the road: "Did not our hearts burn within us
while he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?"
In the midst of a journey, these two men are taken by surprise.
This is just like Jesus!
Jesus is always ready to meet us at the turns of our life.
He will be there in our greatest disappointments.
He will walk with us through our deepest sorrows.
God is with us as we travel through life.
God will always be with us!
John Byron impressed us with this, when he wrote:
"My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast,
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a guest.
Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest
Unless it comes from thee.
The Scripture says, "Jesus acted as if he were going farther."
If they had not insisted, would Jesus have stayed?
If the two had not "held him back" saying, "Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark."
Would He have stayed?
The text suggests that when we walk a dark road, Christ will look for our willingness to invite Him to join us.
Jesus would like to walk with us in our ordinary, everyday experiences.
He would love to talk with us.
While we're driving to work, or pushing a cart in the market, or picking up a child from day care,
or in the middle of a report, or on the way to a meeting, or during a phone conversation,
or in an argument with a loved one or an argument with an enemy -- Jesus would love to converse with us.
He, who walked the Emmaus road, deeply desires to help us.