“Returning” Easter Day 4 April: Luke 24.1-53

Today’s Word: “And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Luke 24.52-3).

Luke has a very keen sense of the vast range of emotions the disciples experienced when news of the resurrection began to emerge. They were variously perplexed, terrified and astounded (4) (22) yet, in today’s reading we see how their sadness (17) is turned to utter joy (41). Part of this (less than flattering) story of course, involves both their sheer forgetfulness (8) of Jesus words (44) and their evident ignorance of the Scriptures, ‘the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms’ (27).  Somewhat sharply, Jesus accuses them of being ‘slow of heart to believe’ (25). Nonetheless, there is something compelling in Luke’s unvarnished account of how they thought the empty tomb was an ‘idle tale’ (11) and there is something almost comical about the risen (and unrecognised) Jesus walking the road to Emmaus whilst patiently listening to their bewilderment! Which is why we might think it significant to note that, no less than three times, Luke refers to people ‘returning’. Firstly, the women return ‘to the eleven and to all the rest’ (9) with the good news. Secondly, the Emmaus companions return ‘to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together’ (33). Thirdly, they all ‘returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God’ (52-3). It would seem, that much of what the disciples were asked to assimilate, simply involved remembering and as it were, ‘returning’ to things they had already been told but had failed to grasp. In short, in these few verses, we see disciples making a ‘return’ to fundamental things like the words of Jesus (the Scriptures), the fellowship of believers and worship (53). It’s in returning to these things; not least ‘the breaking of the bread’ (35) that (as Luke has continually told us) ‘eyes are opened’ (31) to the presence of the risen Christ and his Kingdom. Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Our Prayer for Lent is: “Lord Jesus, draw me into your friendship”.