Stay With Us

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Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so we, through the working of the Holy Spirit, recognize our Lord in the Word and Sacraments.

They did not know who he was while walking and conversing with him. At first, he seemed to be a stranger out of touch with recent events. However, as they talked, this peculiar stranger took them on a journey through the Old Testament. Their uninvited guest walked with them, opening their eyes to see the entirety of the Scriptures was about one person – himself.

As they approached their destination, they begged the friendly stranger, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent” (Luke 24:29). So, Jesus obliged. As they settled into their lodging, they sat down to eat. “When [Jesus] was at table with them he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

The disciples on the road to Emmaus had traveled with the risen Lord that first Easter morning. Their eyes were opened to see Christ in all of the Scriptures. And, just like that, as soon as they recognized their Lord, Jesus hid himself from their sight.

In the book of Acts, Luke tells us that Jesus appeared to the apostles for forty days after the resurrection before his ascension. In those forty days, Jesus continually taught his disciples how to read the Bible. Through the law and the prophets, he explained that everything in Scripture points to himself. And, because the entirety of Scripture points to Jesus, the entirety of Scripture proclaims the forgiveness of sins for you.

Luke follows the Emmaus event with a similar narrative, concluding his Gospel account. Jesus is found again with his disciples opening their minds to explain how the law, prophets, and psalms all speak of him. Jesus explains to his beloved disciples the purpose for which the Scriptures must be fulfilled, “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). And, just like that, as soon as their eyes were opened and Jesus was blessing his disciples, he was hidden from their sight.

Today is the day on which the church celebrates this very event, the ascension of our Lord. Ascension Day is not a day in which we bid farewell to Jesus as he is taken from us to dwell in a far-off heavenly place. Ascension Day is not a going away party for Jesus. Ascension Day is about Jesus, our triumphant and resurrected Lord, who ascends to be seated at the right hand of God so that he may be near to us.

Jesus teaches his disciples where he is to be found. Jesus is not far off. He promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). The ascension of our Lord does not mean Jesus has left us, but, as the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “[God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). Jesus is hidden from our eyes, but we know where Jesus can be found, where Jesus has promised to be for us.

We see Jesus with the ears of faith given to us by the Holy Spirit. In the waters of Holy Baptism, Jesus unites us to himself and seats us with himself in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Jesus’ ascension means we will ascend with him.

The author of the book of Hebrews writes, “We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places” (Heb. 8:1-2). As our great high priest, Jesus intercedes for us with his own holy and precious blood, which he shed for us for our sin. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus promised to be for us in his giving to us to eat and drink his very body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Through the ears of faith, we hear the words of Christ in the words of absolution spoken to us by our pastors. Our ascended High Priest advocates for us and comforts us with the assurance of sins forgiven. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords seated in power at the right hand of God intercedes for us, his beloved redeemed.

Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so we, through the working of the Holy Spirit, recognize our Lord in the Word and Sacraments. Though he is hidden from our eyes, we pray with the words of the disciples on the Emmaus road, “Stay with us.” And Jesus does. He promised.