April 26, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 24:28-31 (NRSV)
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.
When the resurrected Jesus joined two of his disciples for dinner, they had no idea who he was. But when he broke the bread and handed it to them, at that moment they recognized Jesus. This scene reminds us of what we do when we celebrate Communion. In the breaking of the bread, we remember Jesus and his sacrifice. He makes himself known to us through this experience, drawing us into a deeper relationship with him.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
Today we continue our prayerful examination of the resurrection story known as “The Road to Emmaus.” So far, two disciples of Jesus were walking home from Jerusalem, conversing about what had happened to Jesus. They knew for sure that he had died and had heard rumors that he had been raised. As they walked and talked, Jesus appeared to them, but they did not recognize him. Nevertheless, Jesus explained to them from the Hebrew scriptures how his death and subsequent glorification were necessary.
As Jesus and his two disciples drew near to the village where the disciples lived, Jesus seemed as if he would keep on walking. But they implored him to stay with them and Jesus consented. When they reclined at the table in order to eat, a strange thing happened. Jesus, though the guest at the meal, assumed the role of host. He took the bread and blessed it, something that the host would have been expected to do. This must have been surprising to the two disciples.
Even more surprising was what happened next. When Jesus handed them pieces of bread, “then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30). All of a sudden, they realized that the stranger who had joined them was none other than Jesus himself, raised from the dead. What a delightful shock that must have been!
But that wasn’t the end of the surprise. No sooner did they recognize Jesus than “he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t supply the details that our curiosity demands. We don’t know if Jesus became immediately invisible, or if he faded slowly, or if he walked quickly away while the disciples were distracted. All we know is that Jesus disappeared. We get the sense that his resurrected body was not constrained by the usual laws of physics (as in John 20:19, as well).
As Christians read this portion of the Road to Emmaus story, we understandably make a connection between what Jesus did with the bread and what he had done with bread at the Last Supper. You’ll recall that on the night when Jesus was betrayed, “[H]e took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to [his disciples], saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). While in Emmaus, the resurrected Jesus “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to [his two disciples]” (24:30). The parallelism between these two passages is striking. It suggests that one way Jesus reveals himself to his disciples – and that includes us – is through the breaking of bread in what we call Communion, the Eucharist, the Mass, or the Lord’s Supper. Though Christians have a variety of understandings and practices when it comes to Communion, almost all of us have in common the belief that this is one major way to know Jesus and his salvation.
I’m not suggesting that Jesus officiated at a communion service while in Emmaus. That reads more into the text than is there. But I am underscoring the fact that one of the chief ways we know Jesus is through sharing Communion with him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. No matter what we call it or exactly how we do it, when we share together the bread and cup, we are drawn by the Spirit into a deeper and truer relationship with our Lord.
There is more, however, in the story of Jesus making himself known to his disciples through the breaking of the bread. I’ll talk about this “more” tomorrow. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following questions.
Through what means has Jesus made himself known to you?
How important is Communion in your relationship with Christ? Why?
The next time you receive communion, be very intentional about asking Jesus to make himself known to you in a deeper way.
Lord Jesus, thank you for all the ways you make yourself known to us. Today, in particular, we thank you for revealing yourself through the breaking of the bread in Communion. Thank you, Lord, for giving us such a tangible way of experiencing your love and grace. Thank you for meeting us when we share Communion with you and with our sisters and brothers in Christ. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Present at the Table
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.