Here’s is the final extract from my new book, A Meal with Jesus. The book is available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk and there is also a Kindle version available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.
“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him … Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (30-35)
There are resonances here with the feeding of the 5,000. Both take place as the day is wearing away (9:12; 24:29). Both are preceded by other suggestions about the identity of Jesus, including that he might be a new Moses. Both involve the same sequence of Jesus taking bread, blessing it, breaking it, giving it. The meal for the 5,000 was the means in Luke’s story by which Jesus is known as the Messiah. Now the meal at Emmaus is the means by which Jesus is the known as the suffering Messiah. Jesus is known at the breaking of bread, at the meal table, sharing food with friends and enemies. Christ is known in community.
Not that we can separate Christ known around the table from Christ known through his word. We’re not talking about some kind of mystical knowledge, but the word embodied in a meal. The two disciples immediately connect the word and the meal. Their eyes were opened around the table because the Scriptures were opened to them on the road (31-32). Nevertheless their testimony is that “he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (35).
This is my experience. The Christian community often wears me out, winds me up, drives me crazy. But I also have moments when I look at my brothers and sisters and know the presence of the risen Christ. It’s not that my community is anything special. Yet there are moments when I see Christ incognito among the rag-tag people sat in my front room – and then it seems he’s gone again. You see it in our diversity – a diversity that has no explanation except the work of God. You see it when people’s hearts burn as God’s word is interpreted. You see in the love people show to one another.
“We had hoped,” the disciples say, “that he was the one to redeem Israel.” They had a political hope for power, influence and glory. But Christ is known at the margins of the world. The resurrection is revealed first to women whose testimony is treated with suspicion. The future of Christianity lies not in a return to the dominance of Christendom, but small, intimate communities of light. Often they’re unseen by history. But like yeast they’re what transforms neighbourhoods and cities.
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includes Tim Chester’s books and recommendations.