One of my very favorite passages from the Bible comes at the end of the book of Luke.
Two men are walking down the road discussing the crucifixion of their leader. Another joins them and asks what they’re talking about. They wonder at him not knowing.
But they don’t realize that He’s the only one who actually does know what really happened.
He talks to them about prophesy. When they reach Emmaus, he indicates that he will keep going.
It’s evening, they say. Stay with us. When he breaks the bread, they recognize him. Then he vanishes.
Did our hearts not burn within us? They ask themselves.
Often that’s where we stop reading. But what happens next?
Once they realize Christ was the one who talked with them, opened the scriptures (the prophecies he fulfilled) to them, and broke the bread, they don’t just go to sleep planning to react to their revelation the next morning.
They immediately return to the place they’d just left–Jerusalem. Walking, tired but exhilarated, filled with the adrenalin of realization, of fulfilled understanding.
Remember, it’s evening. Perhaps it’s even dark before they begin. They already walked and are walking again.
Imagine their arrival, very late, even in the middle of the night.
“Wake up! Let us in! We’ve been with Jesus! He has risen!”
The crucifixion had destroyed any hopes they had that Jesus would lead them in victory over Roman rule. They had been confused. They had lost all hope.
His resurrection brought a better kind of hope, a hope based in the true understanding of who Christ is–a God for life and eternity–not someone who came to get us off a hook of political oppression.
He came to free us from the consequences of being us. He came to give us this life and the next one.
We’ve come through an Easter unlike any other in our lifetimes, but it was probably an Easter not very different for many worshiping in hostile countries.
Like the men who traveled to Emmaus and then returned to Jerusalem in joy, our next step cannot be to go to sleep.