It almost seems wrong to talk about something that happened after Easter at this time of year, but the story of the two guys on their way to Emmaus gripped my heart in regards to the main theme of this blog, which is spiritual formation and transformation.
Let me summarize this well-known account form Luke chapter 24. One of them was called Cleopas and the other one remains anonymous, but we are told they were both disciples of Jesus. They are on their way home after experiencing the most dramatic event of their lives - they are on their journey from the now to the not yet. Jesus joins them and listens to their conversation, he is present in their sadness. The conversation was so life-giving that they do not want it to end, and they urge him to stay. They share a meal together and then they recognize him.
Allow me to point out the symbolic revelation that we can apply to our own lives. One key word is found in verse 29 “stay”, and it is the same greek word we find in John 4, where Jesus tells us that if abide in him, he would abide in us. Such is the power of staying - they were transformed to being disciples who had a message. And then there is this beautiful testimony when they attest, “where not our hearts burning…?” (verse 32)
What does it all mean for us today? Jerusalem represents religion, and they had to leave that in order to encounter Jesus in a way that would radically transform their lives.
By the way, the town of Emmaus is only mentioned here, but it is interesting to note that the greek root of the word is “abide”, while the Hebrew rendering means “hot” (or: hot springs).
The message rings loud and clear: The Emmaus road represents the intimate journey where we encounter Jesus for ourselves.
They had just walked 11 km - but they immediately got up and walk back (verse 33). Now they come back to community with a different attitude because their hearts had been changed by this encounter. Transformation leads to mission. The inward journey must come before the outward journey. Its like breathing in and breathing out. Our transformation is not only for ourselves, but also for everyone around us.
That is the heart of evangelism: It is not so much about words as it is about letting the world see our changed hearts. We want to change our society, our towns, cities, nations and cultures, but they will not change until we change. Our transformation is the witness, that is the Good News. If there is no ongoing transformation in our lives we actually become a witness against the Gospel!
What the world wants to see more than anything else is evidence that transformation is possible! The process of transformation is evangelism! True evangelism is an invitation to a ever-changing life, and we have to be an example of that before we open our mouths!
Francis of Assisi had it right when he said a long time ago: “Always preach the gospel - if necessary with words.”