They must have talked afterwards about how they just about missed it. At family reunions they would tell the story and end up laughing every time at the jaw dropping possibility. It was one “what if” that they did not have to live with. All it took to send them into peals of laughter was for one of them to glance at the other with the meaning that only a long marriage can produce. It was one of those shared moments that defined the rest of their lives. And to think, they almost missed it.
Leaving Jerusalem after the longest weekend of their lives, they journeyed back home to Emmaus. The familiar stranger joined them just outside the city gates and, overhearing their grief and shock at the events of the last week - and especially of the last few hours - asked them what was going on. Surprised that anyone could not know, they proceeded to fill him in. They were more than a little shocked when the stranger began to explain the meaning of their story. He seemed surprised that they didn’t understand. The more he talked, the more they saw the connections, the faster their hearts beat, the higher their spirits soared!
It was one of those journeys that seemed to end too quickly. They got to the turn in the road that would take them home, but their new friend bid them farewell and began to stride confidently away. A quick glance at one another confirmed their mutual desire and they began to urge him to come and spend the evening with them, especially now that the light of day was fading toward dark. Sitting down to dinner later he took the honored place as guest and offered up thanks for the bread, which he then broke and gave to them. It was at that moment that they saw clearly what they had been straining to see all day. The familiar stranger suddenly was recognized to be their risen Lord! And in that split second of recognition, he vanished. They rushed over to the place where he had reclined to eat and looked at each other with eyes filled with tears and laughter - and immediately headed back in the night to Jerusalem.
Of all the questions circling through their minds and hearts, one kept rising to the surface. “What if we hadn’t asked Him in to dinner!?” But they had. And that made all the difference! Life is filled with coincidences that suddenly open up a whole universe of possibility.