Together, Apart. Bible Study: The Road to Emmaus
This is the seventh of our Bible Studies to explore together, apart, with God, as Coronavirus keeps us from gathering in person. You can leave comments on our Facebook page @FlitwickChurch and join in the conversation.
Lelio Orsi – The Walk to Emmaus
Luke 24: 13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 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?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 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.
During the excitement and confusion of the past few days we find ourselves on a quiet road between Jerusalem and Emmaus. It is worth remembering that the events of this passage are taking place on Easter Sunday itself, although it feels like more time has passed since then. Two disciples, Cleopas and another, are walking away from Jerusalem and are heading to Emmaus, discussing what has come to pass. As they walk along the road another person joins them on their walk.
Choose one or two ways to explore the passage that feel best to you, or try all four – but not at the same time! You might like to write your thoughts down in a journal and come back to them or share them with the online group.
1. Reflective Reading
Read the passage from Luke’s Gospel slowly, really slowly. Note down any words or phrases that jump out at you, perhaps they are things you have never noticed before or things that you have previously passed over. What questions would you like to ask about the passage? What seems strange? What comforts you about the passage?
2. Experiences of God
In the passage the two disciples travel a long way talking with the third person, who we know is Jesus, but they do not see it yet. Have there ever been times in your life when you have had an experience of God or from God that you have only recognised as this later on?
What was it about the experience that upon reflection revealed to you that it was from God? What things help you to recognise God’s work in your life, in the lives of others or the world?
3. Imaginative Contemplation
Sit quietly and comfortably and ask God to be with you, take your time and slowly allow your body to relax. Become aware of your breathing, inhale and exhale slowly, close your eyes if this helps you to relax.
When you are ready, read the passage again.
Imagine the scene in your mind…..
What can you see from where you are on the road? What is the weather like, is it hot, is it dusty?
Listen for what you might hear; birds, conversation around, stillness?
What do the two disciples look like? Can you tell how they are feeling from their faces and their words?
What does the third traveller look like? What is he wearing? How does being in his presence make you feel?
Imagine you are there; are you one of the disciples, are you someone else on the road, are you watching from a distance?
Take your time……
What do you feel when the third traveller is speaking about the scriptures?
How do you feel when Jesus breaks bread and is revealed to the disciples?
How do you feel when he instantly disappears?
Sit with this passage and your imagination as long as you wish. When you are finished, talk to God in your own words. Have a conversation with God about what you have experienced, talk to God as you would a friend. Finish with the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer that you prefer.
At the beginning of the Bible study is a famous depiction of the walk to Emmaus by Lelio Orsi which can be found in the National Gallery. There have been many paintings that show this scene, below are a few more examples. Which of them speaks to you instantly? Why is this? Which do you prefer and why? Which do you dislike, can you pinpoint why? What do they reveal to you about the passage and about our own experiences of Jesus?