Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:13-31 NIV
Hospitality in this passage in Luke looks a little different this time. Two of Jesus’ followers are walking seven miles to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They are making this trip on the same day that some female followers of Jesus discovered his empty tomb and spoke with angels. These two on the road to Emmaus were discussing all of this because they simply did not understand the events of the previous three days. Then Jesus joins them. They are kept from recognizing him, but they are hospitable by inviting him into their conversation on their walk. They share their feelings, their dashed hopes, and their confusion with their new companion. In an echo of this passage, the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” Hebrews 13:1-2.
Jesus also shows hospitality to these two by asking about their discussion, listening carefully to their answer, and teaching them from the scriptures about how the Messiah must first suffer – then come into his glory. All three people in this passage show hospitality in different ways. One way for us to show hospitality to a friend or to a stranger is to ask about him or her and then listen without interrupting his or her answer. Sometimes simply a good listening ear is all that is needed. Sometimes teaching can occur after listening, as it did in this situation. Sometimes sharing your own similar past situation is helpful, but sometimes simply listening – simply allowing someone else to be heard – is what is needed by way of hospitality.
Once the three reached Emmaus Cleopas and his companion urged their new companion to join them in a meal and to stay with them, as the day was nearly over. They are concerned for their companion’s welfare because traveling at night was a risky, dangerous endeavor. After Jesus agrees to stay, gives thanks and breaks the bread for the meal, the two followers of Jesus are allowed to recognize him, and he is instantly no longer with them.
This week, let’s practice hospitality in our conversations with others. Ask God to show you how to sincerely listen to another’s feelings, another’s need to share a current situation, or to simply hear a kind word.
By Grace Hunter