Updated: Nov 18, 2018
Two men walked down the road from Jerusalem, heading to a village named Emmaus.
They were busy in conversation about the recent happenings. It had been a few days since Jesus had been crucified and now they are hearing reports the tomb where Jesus was buried was empty. Jesus talked about rising from the dead after three days, but that wasn't possible, right? Had his body been stolen? Who would do such a thing?
The two are joined by a third person. It's Jesus, but they aren't able to see that it is Jesus. Jesus asks the two disciples what they were talking about. They talked about Jesus dying and how his body was now gone. Jesus uses this opportunity to talk to them and he tells all about him and what was going to happen and why it had to happen.
A few hours pass and they finally make it to Emmaus. The two disciples asked Jesus to stay with them for the night since it was getting dark and the roads could be dangerous. They welcome Jesus to join them for dinner and stay the night. Jesus accepts their invite and joins them for dinner.
At the table, Jesus broke bread, which was a Jewish custom for giving thanks to God. It was then the two men realized that this was Jesus! And just like that, he was gone. He disappeared. The two got up and ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others that Jesus was alive!
The two disciples were offering the Christ that is hidden hospitality. They welcomed them into their home instead of allowing this stranger to continue on the dangerous roads at night.
This story found in Luke 24 is the lectionary text for Easter evening. After the big celebration of Easter morning, there is this story. It might not have the same umph of the Easter morning texts, but it is important.
Why is this story is important? It tells us that hospitality matters. It's not all that there is to our faith, but your witness to Christ is meaningless without it. Hebrews 13:2 says we should always be hospitable because we might be welcoming angels and don’t know it!
Think about that for a moment. When someone enters the doors of the church, we are basically inviting Jesus to join us. The two men welcomed Jesus and didn’t know it, but because they did, they got to see Jesus.
The motel chain Motel 6 had a famous campaign in the late '90s and early 2000s that featured the folksy voice of Tom Bodett and it ended with the tagline, "We'll Leave a Light On For You." It was way of saying that Motel 6 was not just a place to stay the night, but a place that was there to welcome weary travellers with open arms.
When we as Christians welcome people, we are welcoming Jesus into our churches and our homes. That is what it means to be a Christ-follower, someone who welcomes strangers because that stranger you meet just might be Jesus.