This weekend we’re concluding our recent sermon series, Revolution of the Heart, with Luke’s second story of resurrection: the encounter on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24).
I still haven’t discovered the sermon for Sunday, but, as I do, I’ve come across several exegetical nuggets that, while they probably won’t find their way into the sermon, shed more light on the text.
Luke 24 parallels Luke 2.
Whereas Mark’s frenetic pace, apocalyptic tone and disarming hero reminds me of Cormac McCarthy, with his carefully arranged plot and neatly calibrated scenes, Luke is the New Testament’s Charles Dickens.
In Luke 2, Mary and Joseph are leaving Jerusalem after the Passover. They discover their little boy is not with them. They run back to Jerusalem frantic and fearful. Only on the third day do they find them where the precocious little twerp has the stones to reply: ‘It was necessary to be in my Father’s house.’
In Luke 24, another couple are leaving Jerusalem after yet another Passover pilgrimage. A man named Cleopas and a companion not named- most likely his wife. They’re despondent that Jesus is no longer with them. They meet a stranger who check mates their sorrow by showing how “it was necessary” that the Messiah should die and be raised.” It’s the third day. They recognize in the breaking of bread that this stranger is the Jesus who’d been lost.
Luke 24 is where Jesus becomes the ‘Lord’ (again).
There are things you notice more easily if you read the Gospel straight through like you would a novel or short story.
From beginning to nearly the end, Luke constantly refers to Jesus as the Lord.
Pre-magnificat, Elizabeth welcomes Mary “the mother of my Lord.”
The many sick who ask Jesus for a little miracle working make their request by calling him ‘Lord.’
When the disciples go out in pairs Luke says it’s the ‘Lord’ who sends them.
Peter doesn’t simply deny Jesus, according to Luke he denies the ‘Lord.’
But in Luke when Christ’s Passion begins, his of the ‘Lordship’ ends.
Before Pilate, on trial for claiming to be King of the Jews, Luke makes no mention of him also being the ‘Lord.’
Before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is just ‘Jesus.’ So too when he’s before Herod. Before the crowd, it’s even worse. ‘Jesus’ is now just ‘this man’ while the other prisoner’s name, ‘Barabbas,’ means ‘son of the Father.’
On the way to the Cross, Luke calls him Jesus. He’s jeered and mocked and spit upon for feigning to be the Christ, the Messiah. No one calls him Lord, not even Luke.
Through the taunting of the one bandit and the petition of remembrance from the other, he is derided as “the Christ” or simply called Jesus.
It’s ‘Jesus’ who’s taunted by the thief on the cross. It’s ‘Jesus’ who gives up his spirit to breath his last. It’s ‘Jesus’ whom Mary and the Beloved watch die. It’s ‘Jesus’ whose body is taken down and buried.
But then the 3rd day later, the 8th day of the week, which is the first day, when the women come to anoint his body and discover it gone, they’re not scared that Jesus’ body is missing. They’re upset the Lord’s body is missing.
Having been killed and raised, Jesus is Lord again.
And when run back from Emmaus, they’re not screaming excitedly about ‘Jesus.’ They announce ‘The Lord has risen indeed.’
Luke does in chapter 24 what he has Peter do in his first sermon in Acts: You crucified ‘Jesus’ but God through his resurrection God has made him ‘Lord.’
This little nugget probably makes for a better Easter sermon:
Resurrection = God’s enthroning Jesus as King and Lord of the Nations.
However, that Luke has the ‘Lord’ go dark during the Passion story begs the question:
Who it is that dies on the Cross?
God (in the flesh)?
Or Jesus (just the flesh)?
So much of our theology eludes the depiction of God making someone else suffer and die on the Cross by arguing that it’s God’s own self who dies on the Cross (thank you Trinitarian theology).
Luke though seems to suggest otherwise.
It’s Jesus who dies on the Cross.
It’s God who vindicates him.