The Man Who Came to Dinner

Heritage Presbyterian Church

Third Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2023

Scripture reading:  Luke 24: 13-35

Whenever someone different or new comes to dinner, it is always an occasion for change.  Because that new person – either man or woman – changes the usual “vibe” of the dinner from the ordinary to something new, different, and out of the ordinary.

This can happen if one parent brings home a friend from work, or one of the kids invites a friend to stay over and share a meal, or even when an out-of-town friend or relative comes for a visit.  Things change at the meal.

Now imagine that a complete stranger joins your table.  Consider how things change when it’s someone a person in the family knows – and now consider how different that would be with a complete stranger.

That is exactly what happened with the two men who were walking to Emmaus and encountered the risen Jesus.  They didn’t know he was coming to dinner, but I suspect Jesus might have known it.

You know…Jesus knows everybody…and he was always getting invited to dinner.

Jesus invited himself to dinner with Zacchaeus, the short tax collector who climbed a tree in order to see Jesus.

Jesus accepted hospitality from the Samaritans when he and his Apostles were just passing through, but then he had that fateful encounter with the woman at the well.

When Jesus first appeared to the Apostles at a group, he asked for something to eat; while I doubt he was hungry, he WAS inviting himself to eat with them.

Jesus even received invitations to eat with the Pharisees and Sadducees, even though they were not interested in listening to him but rather trapping him with his own words.

When it came to being the man who came to dinner, Jesus fit that bill rather nicely and rather often.

Yet we all know there is a lot more going on in the “Road to Emmaus” story than meets the eye.  The various believers and followers of Jesus Christ revealed many things to us about being and living as Christians in today’s world.

First of all, Jesus Christ is usually known by revelation.  I don’t necessarily mean the last book of the bible.  I mean that when Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t reveal himself to just anyone on the street.  He didn’t appear in a synagogue and frighten everyone there into believing in him.  Instead, he revealed himself to those who loved him – even though they failed to fully understand everything he told them.

Do any of us fully understand everything there is to know about Jesus Christ?  Have you been told everything yet?  Or is it a life-time task?

Next, when Jesus “corrected” the two men on the road, he recited a summary of the message of the entire Gospel.  This should have revealed to them what they had missed.

Yet, when many of us read the Gospel, we might also miss something.  Whatever summary we consider – either that recited on the road to Emmaus or the one we can pick and read today – the summary is incomplete until Christ himself adds proof of his resurrection to the hearts of his believers.  It’s known commonly as “faith.”

Third, the very life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophets.  The Old Testament Scriptures serve as a witness to Jesus.  Jesus admonished the two men on the road that they should have known this…

…after all, they were both classically trained in the Old Testament Scriptures.

For us today, instead of the Old Testament serving as the wrath of God, and the New Testament serving as the love of God, the complete Bible – the Law, the prophets, and the writings – continue to bring fulfillment to the knowledge of humans today.

If we look for specific verses to use against others…

If we use the Bible to justify our own ideas and beliefs…

If we use the Bible to talk AT others, instead of talking WITH others…

Then the true picture revealed in the unique and authoritative Word of God will not also reveal the love of God.

One of the most wondrous details in today’s story comes when Jesus breaks the bread at their evening meal, their eyes were opened, and He disappeared from their eyes.

It virtually tells us, “Lesson over.  Go report what you learned.”

Whenever we break bread and serve the cup, we imitate the best we can the same Last Supper that Jesus shared with his Apostles.  When the two men saw Jesus break the bread, He was revealed to them.  Their senses were not blinded by their grief and their pain from recognizing Him.  Scripture tells us that Jesus appeared “in another form” as he met them [Mark 16:12; Luke 24:16].

In the same vein, once Jesus disappeared, the two disciples turned to one another and said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked to us on the road?”  This tells us that the disciples understood and experienced their own revelation by remembrance.  They had seen Jesus teach before; they had seen him break and serve bread before.  Now their revelation is clear because Jesus knew how to trigger it.

There are three times in which humans truly know an event:

  • In rehearsal;
  • At the time of that event;
  • In remembrance.

Finally, once the disciples had experienced their own version of the man who came to dinner, they sat for only a moment to joyfully and incredulously shout to each other before they did what all of us should also do whenever Jesus is revealed to us: 

  • Go tell other disciples.
  • Go tell the world.

If we do those things whenever the man named Jesus Christ comes to dinner in our own lives, then our revelation will also be his revelation to others.