In the weeks following Easter, our workers in Melbourne CBD have been reflecting on the different ways that the early Christian communities understood the resurrection of Jesus. A few days ago we had a look at an encounter with the resurrected Jesus from Luke's gospel:
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 recognising 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 recognised 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?’
(Luke 24:13-32, NRSV)
One of the things we particularly noticed was that in this story the resurrected Jesus is found in a stranger on the road - and that at first his followers don't recognise him. It seems that Luke's community might have expected that any stranger could turn out to be their teacher Jesus. When we were looking at this story we had just been talking about some of the things that had been going on in our back laneway - particularly drug use. We found that this story challenged us to be open to finding the resurrected Christ in our neighbours who use drugs in that space. This story might suggest that the way to find Christ's presence in the stranger is by inviting the stranger to share a meal (perhaps in Credo Café) - in the story, this is when Christ's presence is revealed.
- Christop Booth, Faith Engagement Coordinator