As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. -Luke 24:28-35 (NRSV)
One of the most intriguing things about Jesus’ followers after Jesus had been raised from the dead is that they didn’t recognize Him right away. On the Emmaus road people who had seen and known Jesus walked and even talked about theological things with Him, but they didn’t realize who He was until they sat down to eat with him.
In most human cultures (first century Palestine being among them) the act of sharing a meal is considered a sacred thing. Sharing a common meal is all about hospitality, friendship and intimacy. It is no coincidence that Jesus came to people with a profound depth when He was sharing food.
He was revealed in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (NRSV)
How often in our own lives do we take the time to actually share a meal with our family or friends? Schedules being what they are most days, it is difficult to share even one meal with at least one other person. Eating on the fly or in the car alone is common for most people these days, and at times those impromptu meals are a necessity, but sharing a meal with others is about more than food.
Over the common dinner table we learn about each other’s lives. We stop and reflect and share, and sometimes, if even for a moment, we experience the presence of God more clearly and deeply.
Maybe every now and then we need to stop and break bread with the ones we walk with. We might be surprised at who is sharing the journey with us.