How Christians Can Love and Welcome the Stranger

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)

The Road to Emmaus

There are some great cultural lessons in the Emmaus road account. To jog your memory, early in the Easter story account, God used the witness of the women at the tomb to disseminate the good news that, “Christ is Risen!” On the surface, that should be just an interesting footnote in the account.

But we need to take a culturally deeper look at the significance of that clarification by Luke. It is critical to know social context as it relates to the status of women. Women could not testify in a Roman court because they were considered by the men of that time to be unreliable witnesses.

Our God is amazing. I love how He turns man-made customs on their head. In all the accounts in the Gospels, the people who gave witness to the most consequential event in human history were women. Society’s second-class citizens got the high honor of announcing to the world that God kept His promises and has rescued all humanity.

Overcoming Cultural Blindness

Is it possible that what contributed to the disciple’s spiritual blindness was an adverse reaction to the witnesses? Maybe they could not overcome their societal norms. What or which group is causing your blindness?

  • What group of people in your life would you struggle to find reliable?
  • Who is the person speaking spiritual truth to you about your lifestyle, your choices, and your decisions, or are you ignoring them because you find them inferior?

Their cultural biases may have led the disciples to miss intimate time with the resurrected Jesus. To be fair, the disciples didn’t get everything wrong in this account. They did a lot of things right. They could lead my evangelism team.

How to Welcome the Stranger

Even though the disciples were still dealing with intense grief, they were still open to sharing the Gospel. I tend to be guarded. When a stranger enters my personal space, my first reaction is suspicion and then caution.

To their credit, that is not the response of these men. They do not walk a little faster to get to their destination sooner. They did not ignore the stranger, hoping he would just go away. After all, this is a time of mourning, who is in the mood to meet new people? 

However, even though they did not recognize Jesus, they interacted with him. They had a welcoming heart and spirit to include him in their lives at this most vulnerable time. They had the wherewithal to have a deep faith conversation with someone who seemed unaware of one of the most epic events in the history of humanity, the Son of God has been killed. That is something for us to bookmark and practice in our spiritual journey. Have the heart to welcome the stranger.

Learn more about the road to Emmaus by downloading a free Bible study on the Book of Luke.

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Written by

Keith Haney

Rev. B. Keith Haney is Assistant to the President for Missions, Human Care, and Stewardship of Iowa District West. He has been an ordained pastor for twenty-seven years and has served multi-ethnic urban congregations in Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. He is the author of numerous devotionals, including One Nation under God: Healing Racial Divides in America. He is married to Miriam (Bickel) Haney, and they have six children and one grandchild.

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