The Road to Emmaus: Reflecting on God’s Eternal Presence
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he told them to ask their heavenly Father, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I wonder whether this simple injunction caught them by surprise, for one would think it would be simpler to pray for enough sustenance for the week or even for a lifetime. If enough provision for one day is good, provision for two days is better. Then we wouldn’t have to come back, asking for more.
But this is precisely the nature of God’s provision. We live in bite-sized portions of time and must seek God for strength for the day, one day at a time. We must depend upon God each day that we live. When we live life that way, we are able to face history with the guarantee of his keeping watch over all of time. Unless we live with the eternal in mind while addressing the specifics of each day, we will live as temporarily suspended, with faith always seeking sight.
Consider the close of Luke’s Gospel, where we see the disciples disillusioned, confused, and fearful following Jesus’ crucifixion. Luke tells us that on the Sunday of Jesus’ resurrection, two of them were walking to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem (see Luke 24:13-15). They were talking together about everything that had happened the previous week when suddenly Jesus himself came up and walked along with them—but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them why they were so downcast, and they responded by incredulously asking him if he were the only visitor to Jerusalem that didn’t know what had happened there over the weekend. The delightful irony of their question was that he was the only one that did know what had happened. His explanation to them of the significance of these events was detailed, profound, and persuasive, going right back to the writings of the prophets, as he unfolded the eternal plan of God.
The seven miles flew by and before they realized it they had arrived in Emmaus. True easterners, they invited Jesus to join them for dinner. He accepted their invitation and as they sat down to eat, Jesus, the universal member of all cultures, became the host when he took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to the Father for it. Whether it was the way he broke the bread that perhaps reminded them of a meal they had shared with him previously or whether as he did so, they suddenly noticed the wounds in his hands, their eyes were opened to him and they understood God’s eternal presence in all things throughout history. As Jesus left them, the fatigue of the miles they had walked that day vanished and they joyfully retraced their steps to Jerusalem—all seven miles of them—to tell the good news Jesus had shared with them to the other disciples.
May we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” and rest assured that God’s eternal presence is with us in all things—whether when hope seems lost or our joy is too much to contain.
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