Emmaus Road by James Archer

A story-teller retells the encounter of Emmaus Road in Luke 24:13-35.

 

Change the place-names to be local to you.  Do not give any clues as to who the story is about until the end, since the aim is to bring back the surprise of the Resurrection of Jesus.

 

A man and his wife were walking home from Tunbridge Wells to Burrswood.  Their hearts were heavy as they thought about the close friend who had died in agony a few days before.  As they walked, a stranger came alongside and greeted them with a cheery “Good afternoon” in a broad northern accent.  Seeing them close to tears, he asked kindly what was the matter, and it all came tumbling out – the whole story of their friend’s suffering and death, how unfair it all was, how much they now realised he meant to them, and how devastated they were by his loss. 

 

It was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone who had not been involved, and they found themselves remembering stories about their friend over the last few years.  He had been a lovely person, a warm personality, someone most people found attractive.  He always made time in a busy life for those who needed help and listened to their problems – often he would ask them a question in a way which hit the nail bang on the head, and they just knew what they had to do to sort things out.  He championed the cause of the weak and the powerless, which didn’t make him popular with the authorities – he didn’t let them get away with avoiding their legal obligations, and he seemed to know the rules better than they did.  In fact, he didn’t just know the rules, he seemed to have an instinctive understanding of what they were trying to achieve, which made him impossible to argue with.  The authorities got fed up with him, saw him as a trouble-maker and tried to silence him, first through the courts and then, when that did not work, by smear tactics, by increasingly open threats, and finally by bribing false witnesses to support trumped-up criminal charges.  They could hardly contain their relief at his early death.  It was all so unfair, and his friends were devastated.  And as if they did not already have enough to cope with, one of their neighbours, who was a bit unstable, had come round at breakfast time to say she had just seen him in the Pantiles – he had said “Good morning, Mary” to her.  It was all too much.  Where was God in all this?

 

By now they had reached Groombridge Place, and the stranger had hardly spoken a word as they poured out their grief.  But now, sensing that they were ready to listen, he picked up on this final question.   Starting from Abraham, he gave them a thumb-nail sketch of what the bible has to say about it – how God has chosen and loves his people, and how time and time again they have rejected his love, ignored his advice, and abused his spokesmen, only turning back to him when they were in desperate trouble.   And yet God continues to care for his people, to guide them, to come alongside them in their troubles, and to help them out of the mess they had made of their lives.  In fact, what their friend had been through was just what you would expect from reading the bible.  And as he talked about the familiar stories and other bible passages which had puzzled them, it was as if they had never heard them before – all of a sudden they fitted together into one big picture which for the first time made perfect sense.

 

They could have listened to him all day, but they had reached Burrswood now whilst he was going on towards Ashurst.  Just as they were about to say good-bye, a few spots of rain came down, and it seemed silly to leave him to get wet.  So they pressed him to come home with them and have a cup of tea – they could drive him on to Ashurst afterwards – and when they insisted he accepted.  And as they sat at the kitchen table, they saw the scars on his hands as he held his mug, they recognised the way he held his biscuit, they looked at each other in astonishment as they realised together that this was their friend who had died, and by the time they turned back to him he had vanished from their sight.

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