Jesus moves others today on the walk to Emmaus. He did so in the biblical account, and Jesus continues to do so today, via the modern Walk to Emmaus movement.
The event is recorded in Luke 24:13-35. Two travelers are walking on the road from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. The scriptures report in verse 15 that as they walked and talked, Jesus approached them. This took place after Jesus had risen from the dead that very morning.
Jesus asks the travelers what they are discussing. The travelers tell him about the crucifixion and resurrection, which Jesus had just experienced over the past three days. This is where it gets really interesting.
After the travelers give their news to him, Jesus proceeds to enlighten them concerning all of these events. Verse 27 reads:
Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Many people have wondered exactly what Jesus told these two men when he was explaining the “things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” No one knows what words were spoken between them, so long ago.
However, the reaction of the two men to this profound experience with Jesus is known. He had left them in the village of Emmaus after he had eaten with them. Verse 32 records their reaction:
They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking…while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
The Modern Walk to Emmaus
The modern Walk to Emmaus seeks to produce “hearts burning” for Jesus today. The people that provide this renewal weekend help others connect with Jesus in a focused,72-hour experience. They have been taking people on their own walks with Jesus in Emmaus communities, once or more a year since 1981. For the vast majority of these “pilgrims”, as they are called, the Walk to Emmaus is a life-changing experience.
The Walk to Emmaus is a Protestant adaptation of a Catholic movement, which began in 1949, in Spain, called “Cursillo de Cristinidad” or “little course in Christianity.” Originally, the program was designed “to empower persons to transform their living and working environments into Christian environments.” Cursillo events came about to help people become closer followers of Jesus. The United Methodist Church and its Upper Room ministries began adapting Cursillo for Protestants, and the modern Walk to Emmaus was born.
The objective of the Walk stated on the official website is:
to inspire, challenge, and equip the local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities and places of work.
The structure and methods of this Protestant adaptation are largely the same as the original Roman Catholic invention. However, this, and its Catholic counterpart Cursillo are unlike any other Christian renewal or revival events. Jesus is presented to the pilgrims in an intense and personal way throughout the weekend.
Those who are the pilgrims during the Walk do not pay for anything. One is housed, fed, and led through this unique experience without any monetary cost. Each person on the Walk is sponsored by at least one other person who has gone through this renewal weekend themselves. The sponsors are all volunteers, working from the heart as servants of Jesus today.
There are many types of Christian renewal and evangelistic events that are free of charge. However, there are few, if any, events that provide for their participants as the Emmaus communities provide for their pilgrims. Everything possible is done to assure that the pilgrim has no concerns other than focusing on Jesus.
Who Goes on the Walk to Emmaus
The Walk to Emmaus is not a public event. If someone is interested in going on the Walk to Emmaus, they can find and contact someone who has previously participated, to sponsor them.
A sponsor then personally invites the prospective pilgrim, or pilgrims, to the weekend, and the prospective pilgrims must then fill out an application to attend. The pilgrim and the sponsor are often from the same church family. The Emmaus connection with Jesus begins with sponsors.
Once the person is accepted, the sponsor helps provide for the family of each pilgrim, if that is needed, while the 72-hour experience is happening. For example, if the spouse of a pilgrim needs transportation while the other is away, the sponsor provides it or arranges for it. The sponsor is the embodiment of Jesus’ sacrificial love to the pilgrim and the families during the Emmaus weekend.E
Emmaus pilgrims come from every type of Christian denomination. It is not uncommon to observe 12 or more different church denominations and a mixture of Protestant and Catholic pilgrims at the same Emmaus weekend. The church unity manifested on the Walks is a remarkable testament to the spiritual unity with Jesus that Emmaus engenders.
This event is for both singles and couples, however, couples comprise the majority of participants. The total number of pilgrims is limited, depending upon the size of the venue and the number of other people needed to run the event.
A fairly common number of pilgrims on a Walk is around 60. They are divided into small groups of five or six people. These groups remain together throughout the weekend. Together they journey to meet and walk with Jesus in a closer way than most have ever experienced.
The next article offers details about the Emmaus weekend, as well as explore some criticisms of the modern Walk to Emmaus.
By Daniel Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
The Lockman Foundation: New American Standard Bible, updated edition
Reference: What happens on a Walk to Emmaus Weekend?
mrt: Walk to Emmaus
Featured and Top Images Courtesy of James Sant’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License