Every day during this Coronavirus Pandemic I have walked at least 5 miles. I walk to alleviate of seclusion and after most of each day inside my place of residence. I walk for my peace of mind, and I walk to keep my body in some kind of shape.
Most of the time I walk alone, because there is no one else to walk with. But, some of the time I with someone else and we walk at a safe distance from each other, sometimes donning masks. And, I walk because even though I have a car, and gas is now under $2 a gallon, since little is opened there are few places to go, at least to buy something.
Now, Jesus also did a lot of walking each day throughout his ministry. Some have estimated around 20,000 miles which comes out to be about 20-miles a day!
Jesus walked everywhere, along dirt roads, through fields, up mountains and down into valleys and through the desert and wilderness, into villages, towns and cities of his own and another country. Sometimes he too walk alone, but most of the time he walked with his disciples. They walked because it was the cheapest mode of transportation, and they walked, not only because there were no cars in their day, but because they probably were too poor to own a horse, or even a donkey.
In this mornings Scripture reading from the end of Luke’s Gospel, this time two of Jesus’ disciples were walking without him. That was because three days earlier Jesus had been crucified, leaving them to walk alone.
They were walking on the road from Jerusalem, where Jesus had met his death, to the village of Emmaus, about 7-miles away. Maybe they just had to get out of Jerusalem because what had happened there to Jesus as it filled them with so much sadness to stay.
And maybe they left for fear the same authorities who had arrested and crucified Jesus would do the same to them as his disciples. They walked despondent, having put so much hope in Jesus to be the one to liberate them from their Roman oppressors.
So, they got out of Jerusalem and walked to Emmaus. Why Emmaus? Maybe because it was a small village that would give them respite from the big capital city, or because at least one, or both of them lived there; or maybe beside it was by the sea whose waters would sooth their broken hearts.
As the two disciples were walking and taking about all that had happened three days earlier, they were approached by a stranger and fellow traveler. Possibly seeing their hands gesturing and hearing their voices raised in passion, he naturally asked what they were talking about.
When they told him and he expressed no knowledge of it, they were surprised and said something like: “Are you the only one who does not know what happened in Jerusalem to the great teacher and wise rabbi named Jesus from Nazareth? How he was falsely arrested and crucified when we thought he was the one who came to save Israel?”
If the stranger was on the road from Jerusalem surely he should have heard what had happened there. But then something more odd happened: Hearing his fellow travelers story, he started teaching them, from their scriptures, how all that had happened to Jesus was predicted by the prophets. The stranger taught with a knowledge that amazed them and gave them assurance that what had happened was not in vain.
As three walked, talked, listened and were taught, they drew close to Emmaus. When the disciples learned the stranger intended to travel on, they invited the stranger to stay with them in the village for the night was drawing near.
Luke recorded that, as they were breaking bread together, “their eyes were opened” and they recognized the stranger as none other than the risen Christ, who then vanished from their sight.
They then said to each other: “Did not out hearts burn within while he talked to us on the road when he opened to us the scriptures?”
When morning came the two disciples returned to Jerusalem and told the other disciples what had happened to them.
Now friends, Easter is not just a story about Jesus’ resurrection or our own. It is also a story of how the resurrected Jesus appears as alive to his disciples, giving them hope that he is with them, comforting and guiding them.
In addition to me, some of you also are walking each day during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Like me, you walk not only as a form of exercise, but also as a way to maintain your sanity by getting away from your isolation.
And, like me, some of your walk along the Farmington River from Burlington into Collinsville, not the 7-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, but at least several miles.
But whether we literally walk, or not, we all are on a journey through life. Some of us walk alone as single, as divorced, as widows and widowers or without friends. Others of of us walk with a spouse, a significant other, parents, teachers, or friends.
On our journey, whether we walk alone, or with others, someone is always walking alongside of us and that someone is Jesus. The two disciples who walked along the road to Emmaus were joined by a stranger they didn’t recognize as Jesus.
Jesus sometimes walks with us through life in forms we also often don’t recognize. Maybe it is in the form of an unseen spirit that is felt and not seen, like a shudder caused by the chill of the wind.
Maybe it is in the form of a stranger or friend who comes in our life to offer us direction and feed our spirits with kindness, affirmation, forgiveness and grace.
Today’s scripture told us that the resurrection Jesus comes to us in two other ways as well.
First, in our story, the stranger who accompanied Jesus’ two disciples on the road to Emmaus told them that the events of the past week that had occurred into Jerusalem were predicted by prophets in their sacred scripture and this knowledge moved them to understand Jesus more.
When we open up our scriptures and encounter Jesus there or when others like our pastors open up the scriptures for us, we to are moved and come to a deeper knowledge of Jesus.
Every time we break bread in Holy Communion, the resurrected Jesus also becomes known to us. We hear the story of his life, death and resurrection.
Just as importantly, we experience Jesus in the bread and the cup and in our eating and drinking together. One of the reasons Holy Communion is so important to us as Christians is that it allows us to experience and be fed by his presence.
So friends, during this Coronavirus Pandemic, whether you are literally walking, say 5-miles a day like I am, or whether you are just journeying through life with everyone else, remember that Jesus is walking with you and seeing you arrive at the place you were intended to go.
On your walk, open and read your Bibles and break bread with your fellow Christians…for there you will find the living, risen Christ.