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How Jesus Makes Himself Known, Part 2

April 27, 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.

Focus

In Luke 24, Jesus made himself known through the breaking of bread. Yes, this shows us of how we can meet Jesus through celebrating Communion. But it also reminds us of how God can be present when we gather with others for a meal. There’s something about sharing food and conversation that opens us to deeper relationships with other people and with Jesus.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began to look at how Jesus makes himself known to us. The story of Jesus’s encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus reminds us how Jesus reveals himself to us in “the breaking of the bread,” that is, in Communion. When we share the bread and cup together, we come to know Jesus more fully and to love each other more truly.

But there is more to be discovered in the story of Jesus breaking bread with the disciples from Emmaus. Though I heartily and gratefully agree that Jesus makes himself known to us through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, I believe the events in Emmaus point to another avenue of revelation. We can come to know Jesus and grow in our relationship with him, not only through official sacraments or ordinances, but also through shared meals. As we read through the whole of Scripture, it’s striking to see how often God’s presence is made known as people enjoy food together. Consider the Passover celebration as one salient example. There is something special, something sacred in the apparently ordinary sharing of food among the people of God.

This was true in “Bible times,” and it is true today as well. I think, for example, of meals I’ve shared with good friends who are generous with their hospitality. Something about eating together encourages us to open, not just our mouths to eat, but also our hearts. I also think of potluck lunches and suppers at church. We might easily make fun of the odd variety of foods at such events, but the very notion of a potluck meal underscores the value of Christian community and reminds us of our unity in diversity.

When I think of times when God’s transforming work happens in meals, I remember what happens at Laity Lodge, an amazing retreat center in the Texas Hill Country where I used to work. Though God moves in powerful ways through the Lodge’s organized program, through speakers, musicians, artists, and small groups, some of the most transformational experiences people have at Laity Lodge come in the dining hall, as they linger over a meal with friends old and new.

Let me cite just one example. About ten years ago, I was enjoying lunch along with the others at my table. I was just getting to know a man who sat across from me. In our conversation, I mentioned that sometimes I struggled with my devotional life. Because I studied the Bible “professionally,” as it were, it was often hard for me to hear God speak in my heart through Scripture. Put the Bible in front of my eyes and I wanted to dig into its historical meaning rather than wait upon the Lord. This dampened my desire for daily devotions, which often felt too much like work. Steve, the man with whom I spoke, said he understood completely. He’d been there himself. But he added that he had found new freshness in his spiritual life by using an online devotion called Pray as You Go. He said I might find it to be helpful.

In fact, I was familiar with Pray as You Go because my wife regularly used it in her times of prayer. But, for some reason, I had never personally experimented with Pray as You Go. The next morning after my mealtime conversation with Steve, I tried Pray as You Go. It included a bit of music, Scripture readings, questions for reflection, and guided prayer. It lasted for about ten minutes. As I used my ears to hear Scripture rather than using my eyes to read it, for some reason I did not immediately shift into “professional Bible reader” gear. I was more receptive and less over-active. So, I thought to myself, “That’s interesting. I think I’ll try Pray as You Go again tomorrow.” And so I did. And then I did it the next day. And the next, and the next, and then next.

I’ve been using Pray as You Go consistently now for over ten years. I can’t tell you how many times Jesus has made himself known to me through this devotional experience, largely through prayerful listening to Scripture. I’m grateful for how Jesus revealed himself to me in this way. And I’m also grateful for how Jesus was present to me in what had seemed to be merely a casual conversation over a meal.

Luke 24 reminds us that Jesus makes himself known to us through Scripture, through the breaking of bread, and through community as people share both food and life together. May God give us the grace to know Jesus more truly in these and all the ways Jesus is present to us.

Reflect

Can you think of a time when you sensed the presence of Jesus in the midst of a seemingly ordinary meal?

Why do you think eating together is so important in the Bible?

In what ways does Jesus regularly make himself known to you?

Act

Get together with a friend (or a small group of friends) to share a meal. Be attentive to the presence of Jesus as you enjoy food together.

Pray

Lord Jesus, thank you for making yourself known to us in so many different ways. Luke 24 reminds us that you do this through Scripture, through the breaking of bread, and through community with other believers. Of course there are many other ways too. For all of these we thank you.

Help me, Lord, to be attentive to you. May I be aware of your presence and guidance, not just in church or obviously “religious” contexts, but each and every day, whether I’m at work or at home, whether I’m shopping or praying, whether I’m alone or with others. 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 Theology of Work Project. A group study on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Recognizing Jesus (Small Group Study)


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