It’s the story of two disciples who, travelling back from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus in the days immediately following the crucifixion of Jesus.
On the road they were joined by a stranger and talked with him about the events of the past few days and how they were puzzled because there were reports that the one who had been executed was alive. The stranger then proceeded to explain how scripture pointed towards the events that they were describing.
With the day hastening towards evening the stranger was invited to stay with the two disciples at their home in Emmaus. At dinner that evening, as the three of them broke bread together “their eyes were opened and they recognised [Jesus]”, at which point the risen Christ vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:13-35)
I like to call this story “Jesus Incognito”, based, of course, on the fact that throughout that journey the stranger’s identity had remained a mystery, up until the time that the three of them broke bread together.
The question for us as we journey, not from Jerusalem to Emmaus but through the ordinariness of our daily lives, is whether we are able to recognise ‘Jesus Incognito’ for I believe that he still comes to us, though too often like those disciples in the story we fail to recognize his presence.
It’s perhaps because we restrict the presence of our Lord with ‘holy things’ – our Sunday worship, with the celebration of Eucharist, at a home group that is studying scripture or a prayer time shared with other Christians.
But going back to that journey, that original meeting with Jesus Incognito, it was just a typical journey that the two of them were taking – though the events of the previous days had been anything but typical.
It was a journey that they would likely have taken many times before, so to that extent nothing out of the ordinary. Like the journeys that we take every day – to the workplace, to the grocery store, a coffee and a donut at Timmy’s, these and many ordinary things that we do each day – all of these offer the possibility of meeting Jesus.
Confusing? Recall that story in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus tells us that in the least of these, my brothers and sisters, I am present (Matthew 25:31-45). The ordinary is transformed into the holy as we recognise, as those two disciples eventually understood, the presence of the risen Christ.
May God help us to see, in the ordinary the very presence of the Holy.
Rev Canon Philip Wadham
St Stephen’s Anglican Church