In his gospel account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Luke includes a story about an encounter two of Jesus’ disciples had with the risen Jesus as they travelled to a village called Emmaus, which we are told was some seven miles from Jerusalem. We read that they were talking together as they travelled along 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 recognising Him.
That phrase has always intrigued me as to how it was that they didn’t know it was Jesus, but we are not told. What we are told is that Jesus asked them what they were discussing together as they walked along. The disciples were shocked that their companion should ask such a question, given all that had happened to Jesus over the preceding few days. But Jesus asked them to elaborate: “What things?”
The disciples then explained that they had been discussing the events relating to Jesus’ ministry, His trial and execution and the stories relating to His resurrection, which they had evidently not witnessed in person. Having listened to what they had to say, Jesus 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.
Now what struck me as read this passage again was the realisation that this conversation was such a fulfilment of the instructions of the Shema, the daily prayer of Israel found in Deuteronomy 6: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up’ (italics added).
Jesus was literally fulfilling the words of Israel’s daily prayer as He walked with them. It made me wonder how often I actually take this instruction seriously. When I walk along, either alone, or with others, do I actually discuss, or consider, the truths of the Bible?
I sometimes find it easier to chat with others as we walk along, but I wonder how many of the conversations I have actually focus on the words of Scripture. Jesus knew that the answers to many of the questions these disciples had were right there in the words of the Bible. They just needed their eyes opened to see them for themselves, and what better way to help them see, than to discuss with them as they walked along.
So today, if you go for a walk either alone, or with a friend, why not put this prayer into action for yourself: ‘These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road’.
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for the truths of Your word which answer so many of my questions, doubts and concerns. Help me to spend time reading them and learning about them in dialogue with others. Help me Lord to see You for who You really are. Amen.
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