As the drama unfolds following Jesus’ resurrection, we noted that confusion and fear blanketed His followers, even those who knew Him most intimately and walked with Him most closely. Dared they hope that He would be raised to new life? Not a ghost, but a living, vibrant Person bearing good news of victory over sin and death? They were wary – given to doubt. But, happily, this all changed.
Perhaps the first, significant breakthrough came Sunday evening. Luke records an event which is surely one of the most riveting of all. Luke 24: 13-32. Please don’t let the familiarity of it rob you of the utter exhilaration that came when two men went for a walk.
Well, they weren’t just walking for the sake of exercise. They were on their way to a village about seven miles from Jerusalem – a place called Emmaus. Probably that’s where they lived. Perhaps they had an errand, a reason to go on this long walk. People did a lot of travel by foot in those days, but you may be sure this was one journey they would never forget. I’m sure they carried the memory of it to their graves.
Here’s an idea. In those days, they wore sandals. Today, if you were setting out to walk seven miles, my guess is you’d wear something more comfortable. As you bring your family together, think about a place some seven miles from your home that is familiar to you, and get ready – as if you were going to walk there. You might wear your most comfortable tennis shoes and a hat to shade your face if it’s a sunny day. Use sunscreen. Find a water bottle for each person, for daytime weather in springtime can be warm.
Now, once you’re ready with all the gear you need, take a virtual walk between Jerusalem and the village of Emmaus, instead of actually walking seven miles. Find several versions or paraphrases of the New Testament, if you can, for I’m going to suggest you simply read this passage and read it more than once. You might start out by reading it in an adult translation of your choice. Assign parts to three readers: a narrator, a traveler/disciple, and Jesus. Before you begin, let someone pray. Ask that Jesus, by His Spirit, always present with you, will open your spiritual eyes so you will recognize Him!
After you have finished the first reading, pause for a short while for silence, letting the living Word which you’ve just read speak to each person. Then, let one member of the family who reads fluently and with ease, read the passage a second time in a different translation/paraphrase. (My favorite is Phillips. You may have a copy of The Message by Peterson. You can go on line and find this if you don’t have any versions other than the traditional King James or its counterparts.) Again, at the end of the reading a second time, take a few minutes to be silent and think and pray about what was just read.
Obviously you have to gauge time to fit the temperaments and maturity of your family members. For the very young, provide material suitable for drawing and let them create sketches of what they hear you read. Older children can be encouraged to write down a part of the reading that caught their attention.
At this point, God may lead you to take some time for different family members to share with the rest something that God said to them from the passage, this story of the Emmaus Road Walk. If you’re keeping a family journal, let someone take notes. God’s Word, we know, is a living instrument, one He most often uses to speak truth into our lives. Encourage family members to share their responses. Let ideas flow freely. Accept whatever is said. This is not a time to correct theology, but to allow people to respond.
You might start things off by asking something like, “Was there some way your heart ‘burned’ within you during our reading?” Or, “Imagine that you’re walking with Jesus. What question would you ask Him? How do you think He might respond? How does this make you feel?” Then have someone read the passage a third time. Give room for whatever way God blesses your family on this spiritual journey. End with prayer.
Note – the journey is only half over. Next time we’ll hurry back to Jerusalem and see what’s happening there.