Conversation with challenge (Luke 24:27)

The revealing Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, embodies and enacts the heart of the God, which the Psalmist merely glimpsed.

Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’

(Lk. 24:25-26)

Most pastors and supervisors wince at Jesus’ candour here, which seems to lack generosity and can only be considered courageous in the tradition of Sir Humphries in Yes, Minister where courageous is a coded way of saying foolish. The accusation of anoetos (foolishness) carries with what is lacking: lacking consideration, lacking intelligence, lacking wisdom (cf. anoetos in Lk. 24:25; Rom. 1:14; Gal. 3:1, 3; Ti. 3:3). In the language of Paterson, Jesus is courageously enlarging their picture of what has happened in order to foster and deepen their Christological insight. Paterson goes on to insist that pastoral supervision must include critical reflection on practice, on what actually happened. The two disciples have the wrong frame or lens for understanding what had taken place. That is the precise nature of their foolishness: not that they are too stupid to understand, but that they are looking at the death on the cross in the wrong way. As Luther would later demonstrate, the cross challenges the worldview of theologians (and pastors) of glory.

Contemplation on roads of revelation (Luke 24:28-29)

As Myers sardonically notes, ‘OK fellas’, Jesus says, ‘it’s a bad time alright. So open your Bibles to the prophets and let’s re-read history together under the Shadow of Death’.31 He points out to them they had missed the very meaning of the prophets who had taught them that the Messiah had to

The revealing Jesus: Scripture 53 undergo much ro enter his glory. And Jesus began with Moses to show them the kind of Messiah that was among them.

As Jesus explained the Scripture, we have the first post-Easter reading of Scripture. For the first time after Jesus death and resurrection, the Hebrew Bible is read through a ‘Christian’ lens. It is not just explaining the text and what it meant that Jesus is about—the familiar Jewish method of reading their Scriptures called ‘midrash’ used by all good rabbis. These people on the way to Emmaus clearly seemed to have known the text. Their problem was they did not know how to find Jesus in it: ‘then beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them the scriptures’ (Lk. 24:27). Jesus’ interpretation of Scripture in verse 27 is meant to explain the divine necessity of the Messiah’s suffering as the path to glory, but the narrator shares none of the details of Jesus’ instruction with us.32 The verb is dieermeeneuen-, every other time it appears in the New Testament, it means to translate into one’s native tongue (Acts 9:36), including the interpretation of ecstatic languages (1 Cor. 12:30; 14:5, 13,27). In other words, Jesus is patiently translating the ancient biblical wisdom into the plainest possible terms so these demoralised disciples can get it.

Crucible of celebration (Luke 24:30-35)

Then as they sit together for a meal that evening and he breaks the bread, their eyes are opened, and they recognise him. The guest becomes host and welcomes them to God’s unfailing hospitality.

This is the sharing of God’s very life through the revealed and revealing Jesus. Too often this has been understood in terms of the shared Eucharistic meal.33 Emil Brunner, introduced formally in the following chapter, understands faith as a leap (Sprung), a decisive act which entails crossing over (hiniibertreten) from the familiar and leaving it behind. The moment of decisive action is always a moment worthy of celebration in the pastoral supervision process. Pastors and preachers often end their commentary at the moment of revelation—when their eyes were opened (Lk. 24:31) or their hearts were warmed (Lk. 24:33)—and fail to see the revealing Jesus animates action and purpose, not just vision and hope:

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

(Lk. 24:33-35)

The return to Jerusalem is often reduced to a convenient bookend to the Emmaus Road narrative and to a focus on the Twelve still gatheredthere.34 Garland notes some wider theological implications of the return to Jerusalem:

The followers first moved away from where all the distressing action occurred and where danger still lay. But then they go back there after they encounter Christ on the way, reflect on the Scriptures, and share a meal with him. No longer are they racked by anxiety, confusion, and fear. Now they can face the dangers with resolve and with the assurance that God raised Jesus from the dead.35

The revealing Jesus, because he is the risen Jesus, equips and empowers the two disciples to return to their work of worship and witness ‘with resolve and ... assurance’.36 The difference in the two disciples returning from Emmaus is highlighted by Bovon, who notes ‘the difference in their state of mind corresponds to this difference in their direction. Misunderstanding, despair, and isolation are replaced by recognition, hope, and community’.37 The revealing Jesus not only stirs hope in their hearts but is fulfilling the promise of redemption as expressed in the Lukan infancy narrative, which, together with the Emmaus Road narrative, form the bookends of Luke’s gospel.

Australian poet Noel Davis suggests what happens on roads of revelation:

Venture beyond the familiar.

Range wider than routine.

Delve beneath the certain.

Hold truth with an open heart.

Break from the programmed whatever it be.

Take a different way home.38

The ‘different way home’ for the disciples is to return to that place in T. S. Elliot’s poem where—they began—as if for the first time.

The story began with two disillusioned disciples walking away from their disappointment in Jerusalem towards Emmaus. The narrative ends with their return ‘that same hour’ to Jerusalem after the celebration in Emmaus. The Luke 24 narrative, importantly, also offers the first Christological framework for pastoral supervision: walking. The final part of this chapter identifies the theological and practical significance of walking as a framework for the next chapter.

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