Luke 24: 17, 28-32
We find the men on the road to Emmaus. Emmaus is a little village, but it has become a symbol of mysterious encounter or encounter filled with spiritual promise. What is interesting is that geographically the place of the encounter can be pinpointed exactly. You can fly there on Google Earth. It is all so small and so detailed that you can probably find within half a mile where the interaction took place between the men and the Stranger. But it striking that the emotional and spiritual landscape is so muddled. The men know exactly where they are on land, but they are totally lost. What would become of this band of followers of this man Jesus now that He was gone? They are searching the possibilities, but more than anything they must be searching their own soul. You cannot have been witness to such an important spiritual movement and not be touched. When then the rug is pulled out from under you, you have to completely reorient yourself. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus now as compared to what you thought before? But then they meet up with this stranger who does a little bit of the clueless reporter thing with them:”Oh tell me what happened.” Luke of course uses the story to get his point across about the Resurrection. The stranger, Jesus, is not interested in the story, he is interested in the state of their soul. Cleopas and the other man are not interested in the stranger at first, but as He starts to lecture them, they become intrigued. So the men search their own souls, the stranger searches theirs, in the end they search His and nothing else matters. As they arrive at their destination, the stranger moves to travel onwards, but they invite Him in and then they see Him for who He is, what His soul is. They recognize Him as the greatest soul of all.
Friends, do you know the soul of Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest American architect of the Twentieth Century? Many people have been fascinated with him. Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song about him “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright.” They sing:” Architects may come and, Architects may go and
Never change your point of view. When I run dry, I stop awhile and think of you.” Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial hotel in Tokyo in 1921 in Maya revival style, most of which stood until 1967. The entry hall is in a museum in Tokyo. But he remains mysterious. T.C. Boyle in his novel the women in a way tries to find the soul of the architect “The Women.” Through the perspective of the four women Frank Lloyd Wright has long relationships with, Boyle tells the story of who this famous man really was. So we get a view from Olgivanna, the Russian, whose daughter Svetlana is very close to Frank. Then there is Miriam, the addicted Southern woman with a big temper. They all make their way to the Taliesin house, his most iconic creation in the Wisconsin Prairie. That’s how far I got so far in the book. Two more characters to go. But there are these interesting footnotes throughout the book by a Japanese protégé of Lloyd Wright who calls him Wrieto-San. Slowly the man behind the driven genius is becoming clear. But it is hard to see someone’s soul.
Friends, have you ever have somebody describe you or your intentions and just being stunned at how wrong you think they are about how you see yourself? I think that has happened to all of us. It is almost as if the image they have you has been taken off a shelf somewhere or borrowed from another person and projected on you as if you are some projection screen. It doesn’t ring true and it alienates. It is profoundly frustrating.
But guess what, friends, we do the same to others. Not always consciously, we size people up, make a judgment for ourselves and then look for proof that our assessment was correct. We look at people’s dress, how tidy they are, how they walk and talk and we draw our conclusions. This is not fair of course, but nevertheless very common. What we don’t look for is people’s soul. We may do some soul-searching when it comes to ourselves once in a while, but we don’t do much soul-searching of others. What I mean is that we tend to make a judgment about people based on physical traits and behavior, rather than on what moves them, what their deepest wounds and longings are, what insecurities they are covering up.
Friends, the man never recognize Jesus physically. They cannot see Him in a physical sense. They recognize Him when he breaks the bread, the way they have seen Him do t before. They look beyond all the distractions that could their judgment about him and they see Who He truly really is. Could we do the same? May God give us the wisdom and the commitment to really search for people’s souls.