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The Road to Emmaus – Jesus in unexpected places

By Dave Wu, Executive Officer – Chaplaincy Commission

The Road to Emmaus is a well-known story in the Bible, found in the Gospel of Luke chapter 24. It recounts the story of two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Jesus. On the road, they meet a stranger who joins them on their journey. The stranger listens as they discuss the events that have taken place in Jerusalem. When they reach Emmaus and break bread together, the disciples suddenly realise that the stranger is actually Jesus.

This story demonstrates that Jesus can reveal himself in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.

When I think of this story, it highlights a number of significant thoughts and themes for me:

  • Unexpected Places
  • Encounters with Jesus
  • The power of breaking bread

I’ve found over the years of my intentional faith journey; unknowingly, I can place boxes around Jesus, how I encounter him and how I believe others will encounter him also. E.g. Through church attendance, bible studies, church conference events etc.

I love that in this story, Jesus shows up on the road in the middle of nowhere and comes alongside the disciples on their journey. Walks with them, talks with them and listens to them. This whole encounter was not in the usual places or settings where we might expect such a significant encounter to take place.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege to be part of launching a new shower service for a rough-sleeping and homeless community in Sydney. At the time, our whole strategy revolved around the provision of a mobile shower service. After launching the service, quite regularly, we ran into mechanical issues with the shower service or lacked the trained personnel that could transport the service to its location. Regardless of whether we could get the mobile shower to its location or not, our team of people continued to go to the park and connect with the community we ultimately were keen to serve and were building connections with. What we found was that regardless of whether we were able to provide the shower service or not, the community continued to engage with us.

We bought a generator and set up a coffee and tea station, providing a cuppa and conversation. One of the team would bring their guitar down to the park and offer the community guitar lessons or an opportunity to jam together. One of the community members would come along regularly and had a passion for death metal music. Our team invited him to the challenge of writing a positive song together, and after a number of weeks, they produced and performed their song for the rest of the community.

Fast forward a number of weeks, and this particular man had found himself in a challenging health situation. With no family, friends or means of transport, he reached out to our team for support. We were able to come alongside this man and connect him with the help and support he needed.

I love that in this man’s time of need, he drew on a previous encounter that he had with us that gave him confidence in how we might respond to him.

Have you ever thought about creating unexpected spaces where you can encounter Jesus unexpectedly on your journey? It’s a pretty interesting concept that challenges us to become more mindful and intentional about how we live our daily lives. As an exercise, try identifying the most improbable location or area in your life where Jesus can show up, and think about how you can create an environment that encourages these chance meetings. Who knows, you might just discover new ways to connect with your faith and share it with others.


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