Breaking Bread

Two of Jesus’ disciples, presumably lesser known being that they weren’t one of the twelve, were walking to Emmaus discussing the recent events of Jesus’ death and the resurrection they were speculating was even true. Disguised as a stranger and hidden from their eyes, Jesus approached them on the road and asked them what they were talking about. They shared in detail about what had just happened to Jesus, who they called a prophet of great deed and in word. What they also shared was a hope, or perhaps an expectation, that Jesus was supposed to be Israel’s redeemer. Jesus seemed to cut them off and does so by calling them fools for being so slow to believe all that the prophets had spoken. (I love his response) He then walked them through the scriptures starting from Moses, pointing out how all of scripture points to Jesus, the Messiah and then posed this question, “Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Jesus began to walk past as to continue on his journey when these two men stopped Jesus to invite him to their home to stay the night, as it was already dark. Jesus agreed to stay and as they arrived home they sat down to eat. Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and scripture says it was in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened and they finally realized it was the risen Savior who met them on the road and who was sitting directly in front of them. Jesus vanished from sight and the two men immediately got up and ran back to Jerusalem to share the incredible thing that had just happened, but really that Jesus had indeed risen! This story strikes me. So we have two men walking down the road who are met by a stranger (Jesus, although they don’t know it’s him) who asks them to share what they’re talking about and they do. If you’ll allow me to be creative, I imagine these two men are really saying, “The guy we followed, Jesus, for three years, the one we thought was Israel’s redeemer, is dead. He said he would rise on the third day, but it’s the third day and ain’t nothing happened yet.” Then Jesus calls them fools because clearly they don’t get it, they don’t see. The scripture says that their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus. What kept them from seeing? You’d think they would recognize the man they followed for years, but they didn’t so I have to believe this is likely the most significant part of this passage. I think it was their lack of understanding of who Jesus was, rather their expectation of who they thought Jesus should be. Two significant things I believe point to their lack of understanding, the first is that they call Jesus a prophet and later Jesus refers to himself as Messiah and the second it that they expressed a hope that Jesus would be the redeemer of Israel when we know that he really was. I think these men were blinded by their expectations. I think they were unable to see the bigger picture, that Jesus was indeed the redeemer of Israel. I said this story strikes me because as my time in Thailand is nearing its end, I have thought about the expectations I came in with. I came here with big expectations to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom, I was after all the Western Christian that had the incredible opportunity to grow up in a Christian environment and wanted to take that to the unreached people of this world. Time began to pass and I quickly saw how hard it was to make an impact. I didn’t understand the culture and I certainly couldn’t speak the language (yet), so how was I supposed to? I battled many moments of frustration as I wondered why I was even here in the first place if I couldn’t do anything. I was blinded by my own expectations, the expectation that God brought me to Thailand so that I could make an impact. But to tie this back to the passage of scripture, I’ll never forget my “breaking of bread” moment here in Thailand. Last August I was helping a friend of mine with her English studies. We met every Saturday for a couple hours and this one Saturday she came asking me if I had ever heard this song before. She began playing it and it wasn’t long before I realized that this song was a Christian song. I knew this because the song said Jesus’ name. I remember barely being able to hold back tears because in that moment “Jesus broke the bread.” Here was this girl asking me to translate the words to this Christian song because she liked the beat of the music and how it made her feel, so she naturally wanted to know what the song was saying. Think about how she stumbled upon that song. Jesus and the very alive and active Holy Spirit brought that song into her life. The bread broke for me that day because I realized that I had placed all these expectations on what I could do and failed to place expectations on what God could do. I was immediately humbled and realized that I’m not really needed here in Thailand. God is here and His Spirit is working. That day I began asking God to give me a better understanding of how I could partner with what He was already doing in Thailand and it was in that moment that I could see again, or rather could see clearly for the first time. I switched to placing my expectations on God to do big things in Thailand, not on me to do big things in Thailand. Despite these two men being unable to see Jesus (having the wrong expectations), He still met them on that road and eventually broke that bread to open their eyes. Why? I think it’s because despite our inabilities and our numerous failures, God in his goodness meets us, counsels and teaches us, and then breaks bread with us. And friends, that is worth running back to Jerusalem in the dark about.

(Luke 24:13-35)