Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking to each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him (Luke 24:13-16 NRSV).
We've all walked on the road to Emmaus. Our road may have led to the unemployment line or the hospital, to the courtroom or the cemetery. One way or another, we've all walked on a journey where our hopes and dreams have been crushed, and sorrow seems to be our only friend.
Jesus came as a stranger to Cleopas and his friend. He listened as they told him, not realizing who he was, about the events surrounding the crucifixion.
Today, Jesus routinely sends us to be his representatives, as strangers on someone else's road to Emmaus. And sometimes he sends others to us on our own road to Emmaus. Whatever our role, the key is to pay attention.
A man I know was checking into a hotel when a woman entered the lobby, upset and clearly struggling. She needed a place to stay for the night but had no way of paying and could only promise that she was being wired money the next day. She ran out to her car to get proof for the manager that she would be able to pay her the next day. While she was gone, my friend paid for the woman's room and quickly scratched out a note to her: "I felt God wanted me to pay for your lodging tonight. I believe he wants you to know that He hasn't forgotten you." My friend became the woman's stranger on the road to Emmaus.
A woman I know stopped in a church restroom during worship, only to find another woman there in tears. The two of them never met before, but the other woman's face was twisted with grief. My friend could tell that the woman needed someone to care for her, and she paused to minister to the woman. This was the road to Emmaus, and she would be the presence of Christ for this sorrowful woman.
As a follower of Christ, you have the opportunity to represent him. Pay attention to the strangers you meet. It may be that the Lord wants to use you to offer comfort and hope to those in need as they travel along the road to Emmaus.
Lord, teach me to pay attention to the strangers around me. Use me to encourage, comfort, and care for the stranger in need. Amen.