These is the third of four Bible studies by different authors on the key Scripture text for Mennonite Church USA’s next biennial convention, to be held June 30–July 5 in Kansas City, Mo. “On the way/En el camino” is the convention theme, and the Scripture text is Luke 24. See www.mennoniteusa.org/convention.
Luke wants his readers to understand that this narrative is about Christ—his death and resurrection.
Luke reassures the early community of faith that they are not going to be left alone after Jesus’ ascension. The promise of the Holy Spirit is given and fulfilled. Then, they are empowered to be a missional community.
Let’s take a look at the narrative of the two downcast disciples on their way to Emmaus. They are disappointed and discouraged; their dreams and hope are gone, and life as they have known it has ended. It is in the midst of this road full of dust and uncertainty that Jesus, incognito, joins them with a two-way hospitality approach.
Though their eyes are closed, they are convinced that Jesus, “the prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,” was the one to redeem Israel and the world, but he was handed over to the Romans to be condemned to death and crucified. They share these matters with the stranger.
Right there, Jesus reveals himself with Scripture and sacrament. Scripture serves to generate faith—the Law, Psalms and Prophets. And an ordinary meal becomes a turning point. Revisiting the resurrection narrative becomes what matters.
As a follower of Christ, I resonate with this invitation.
I am “on the way,” just like the downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus. I am in need of the resurrection narrative, Holy Spirit power and a missional community approach and practice. Christ is the paramount revelation of God for the church and for the world.
Friends, this is not just any way. If the church wants to be a true missional community, we must continue embracing and sharing the “via Christi,” the way of Christ—his death and resurrection.
It is in Jesus that people of all nations see and experience God afresh.
Just as early Christians embraced “the way of Christ” and allowed the presence and work of the Holy Spirit to permeate and transform their lives in radical ways, we—the 21st-century followers—are challenged to become people of the way, a missional community with an intentional disciple-making culture.
We need to go across the streets, cities and nations using Scripture, sacraments, service and words to announce that the kingdom is at hand. People will transition from the old ways to the new, just like the disciples on their way to Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
What does it mean to be “on the way”? I suggest considering the following: Come and see; go and tell. Let us take the risk of abandoning our comfort zones and going out to seek people of peace and make disciples of them.
Byron Pellecer is a church planter and lead pastor of Iglesia Menonita Aposento Alto (Upper Room Mennonite Church) in Wichita, Kan.