First meal in God’s new creation

April 30, 2011

Traditional site on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus fed the multitudes

Earlier this week, I wrote about John’s use of Creation imagery from Genesis in his resurrection narrative of John 20. The scripture I’m preaching on tomorrow, Luke 24:13-35, tells of two disciples encountering the risen Lord on the way to a village called Emmaus. (I’d show you a picture of Emmaus, but we don’t know where it was located.) Like John 20, it has another Creation allusion—which I never saw without the help of N.T. Wright and his wonderful For Everyone series of commentaries.

(Since this will not be in my sermon tomorrow, I’m not stealing my own thunder!)

The first meal in scripture takes place in Genesis 3, when the serpent convinces Eve (and Adam) to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent says that God knows that “when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So she eats the fruit, shares it with her husband, and “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (3:7).

Their eyes were opened, in other words, to the reality of their estrangement from God. As a result, they were exposed, vulnerable, defenseless, and afraid. They were destined to die.

By contrast, the first meal in this new creation—the beginning of the new world that Christ’s resurrection makes possible on this side of resurrection—takes place in Emmaus, when Cleopas and his companion break bread with the resurrected Jesus. When this happens, Luke tells us—echoing that earlier meal—”their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31).

As with the first meal in Genesis, their eyes are opened. But this time to a drastically different reality: Christ is risen, which means that “the long curse has been broken. Death itself has been defeated. God’s new creation, brimming with life and joy and new possibility, has burst in upon the world of decay and sorrow.”

All I have to say to this is, “Cool, huh?”

N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2004), 296.

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