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How Jesus Was With People (Hospitality III)

Transformation Blog: Readings from Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus



How Jesus Was With People (Hospitality III)

Brandon Cook

In Luke 24, we get a clear picture of Jesus’ posture with others. The context for the story is Resurrection Sunday. In the morning, Jesus was raised to life by the Father, and here he is in the afternoon, walking along the road, where he encounters two of his disciples: 

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. 

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” 

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

Jesus plays dumb! He plays dumb in order to draw these disciples out, into conversation, into relationship, where he can hear them and be with them in their story. It’s almost like God asking “Adam and Eve, where are you?” in Genesis 3. God prioritizes entering into mutuality—into relationship, into questions—over already having all the answers. When Jesus “emptied himself,” he did it so that he could enter fully into self-disclosing relationship, prioritizing connection with others over knowing it all already.[1]God is ever and always emptying Himself into this sort of relationship with us.[2] 

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” They said, “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people, but our leading priests and other religious people handed him over to be condemned to death and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah that had come to rescue Israel. This all happened just three days ago. 

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and that they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

The men share their sorrow, their hope, and their confusion with Jesus. 

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus gets their attention by calling them “foolish.” But then they get a private Bible lesson from Jesus himself, which must have been pretty rad. 

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat,he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them.Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”[3]

There’s so much in this story. 

The disciples don’t recognize who Jesus is, but the Holy Spirit reveals it to them over a meal, after Jesus has asked them questions, after their story has been told. And the first thing the disciples say after encountering Jesus is that their hearts burned within them. They don’t say, “Oh, I never understood that Isaiah 53 was all about the suffering Messiah!” I’m sure Jesus’ Bible lesson and how he explained the work of God in history was mesmerizing, but it didn’t go first to their heads; it went to their hearts. 

Here, hearts burning is not indigestion but a sign that the Reign of God is being made manifest. Just as bodies were healed when Jesus was around, so were hearts made to burn. Emotions that had long lain dormant in hopelessness flamed back into life. There was clearly something in how Jesus was withpeople that made their hearts burn. Jesus didn’t just tell the good news, he was with people in a way that made the love of God present.

So how does Jesus do it? He cares for these men in simple and straight-forward ways: 

·     Jesus asks questions and listens to their story.

·     Jesus tells the story of God.

·     Jesus shares a meal.

The end result is that these men have a supernatural encounter and revelation. They recognize God in a new way. 

This pattern of asking questions, sharing stories, and sharing food is Jesus’ simple formula for hospitality. It is a posture we can not only study but also, by the Spirit of God, learn to embody in the world. 

For all of these readings in one place, order my book 'Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus.'

[1]See Philippians 2:7ff.

[2]And note that Jesus, as we will see below, is no longer bound by the dimensions in which he was held pre-Resurrection. (See verse 31.) We get a closer picture of the unbounded God who is ever and always and always still emptying himself for our sakes. 

[3]Luke 24:13-34. This is yet another story in Luke that is oriented around tables and hospitality. Compare the story of Zacchaeus above, and all Luke 10 which forms the basis for ‘Chapter 2: Ambassadorship and the People Jesus Gives Us to Love.’