Emmaus City Church
Visio Divina
Visio Divina is a practice of listening prayer that people who have followed Jesus have used with artwork, particularly among cultures and ethnicities in history where access to the written Scriptures has been scarce, and in places where illiteracy has been prevalent (i.e. see the first 1500+ years of Jesus' Church).

Some things to consider as you observe and listen are:

+ What draws your attention first?

+ If you had to describe the painting,
what's one or two words you would use?

+ If you were in the image,
where would you be?

+ What might God be saying to you through this image about Jesus?

The story of Emmaus found in the Scriptures (Luke 24:13-34) has been depicted by artists throughout the world in beautiful, dynamic, and profound ways. Below are some of our favorite masterpieces. Take some time to sit with them and consider what God might be revealing to you today that is beautiful, good, and true.

May we be inspired to encounter God, welcome others to do the same, and walk with Jesus as He helps us to meet people where they are and reveals through His Word, Spirit, and Table that the Kingdom of heaven is nearer than we can possibly imagine.
The Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus by Diego Velázquez, 1618 A.D.
The Seed That Grows Unseen Overcomes
Sometime after it was finished, the Emmaus scene in "The Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus" in the upper left corner was covered over entirely, the resurrected Christ edited out (Jesus and the disciples listening to Him were later discovered again hundreds of years later after someone cleaned the painting). In some ways, this can be like our lives today when we attempt to remove the transcendent and the divine. But if we only see with what we have, all we might be left with is attempting to clean up humanity with rags. Thank God that in His grace, Jesus is still here, giving us the gift of His resurrection, healing, cleansing, and covering us with His robes of righteousness. He's with you, He sees you, and He loves you. Notice also the kitchen maid in Velázquez's painting appears to be an African slave. The artist lived in a time when Spain was debating the status of slaves. Velázquez emphasizes the maid's dignity by portraying her as listening intently to Christ's words. She may be unnoticed by the world around her, but she dominates the painting and therefore our attention. The last shall be first. This is God's way. His Kingdom grows unnoticed by the world. It's the seed that grows unseen, and yet, overcomes.
Pilgrims at Emmaus by Rembrandt, 1628 A.D.
The Light of the World Shines in Your Darkness
Here in Rembrandt's painting, "The Pilgrims at Emmaus," Jesus is presented as the Light of the World, one who removes spiritual darkness and enables us to see God through His presence and power. The lighting of the scene signals the recognition of Jesus by the two disciples at the table. One is bowed at His feet in the darkness while the other is still seated at the table, coming to the dawning and shocking recognition that this person who is with him is the risen King of the world. The lighting also reflects the way in which Jesus, the Light of the world, shines His light on humanity's inner spiritual darkness, choosing to be with us whether we're afraid, full of worship, or cleaning the dishes as the person on the far left is doing. Jesus' light still shines on her even when it seems she isn't near Him or sees Him. Whatever you're doing in this life, near Jesus or seemingly far from Him, His light reaches to you. His resurrection is for you. Even if you think you're in the dark, the Light has come and your darkness cannot overcome Him.
Road to Emmaus by Daniel Bonnell, 2011 A.D.
Hearts on Fire When We Realize We Are Embraced
Daniel Bonnell's painting, "Road to Emmaus," captures visually what the Scriptures said was going on inside of the disciples after they realized it was Jesus with them. "They said to each other, 'Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?'” (Luke 24:32). This burning, or being lit on fire with life and hope, is the power of the Holy Spirit at work within the person being warmed to who Jesus is and the abundant life He is giving us. In an interview, Bonnell went on to also say of this painting, "In 'The Road to Emmaus,' the sky is the symbol for God the Father fully embracing his Son, Jesus, who is walking along the road with two disciples." So whatever the emotions of today are for you, red with anger, blue with sorrow, dark with fear, or alive with the hues of the sun, know that God is on the scene ready to embrace you with all the love and courage you will need to continue to walk the road you are on. And know, even if you can't see Jesus, you are never alone. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
Third Station of the Resurrection: The Walk to Emmaus by Rowan and Irene Matz LeCompte, 1970 A.D.
God Walking in the Cool of the Day with Humanity
Some renowned Bible scholars (Presbyterian James Montgomery Boice and Anglican N. T. Wright to name a couple) have suggested that Cleopas’ fellow traveler on the road to Emmaus was his wife, Mary (see John 19:25 as Clopas is a variant spelling of Cleopas and Luke 24:14-18). Married couple Rowan and Irene Matz LeCompte beautifully capture this potential moment of Jesus our Immanuel, God with us, alongside a man and woman in their colorful tile mosaic, "Third Station of the Resurrection: The Walk to Emmaus" featured at the Resurrection Chapel in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. If it was Cleopas and his wife, Mary, this Emmaus scene takes us back to the beginning with God when He walked with humanity in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8-9). Here we see Jesus recapturing, and perhaps transfiguring, such a walk of God with humanity as He opens their hearts and minds to the Scriptures (Luke 24:27, 32) and reveals how God walking with us in every moment of life, through crises and rescues, through promises and fulfillments, has always been His plan for us from creation to cross to new creation, from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane to the Garden in the new heaven and earth. God asks, "Where are you?" and Jesus shows He comes to find us.
Emmaus by Maximino Cerezo Barredo, 2002 A.D.
The God Who Is Near and Meets All Our Needs
The Spanish-born Maximino (“Mino”) Cerezo Barredo, is a Claretian priest who is part of the Congregation of Missionaries (CMF). He has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, living for extended periods of time among people in Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Panama. He is also an artist known for his paintings and murals. In a 2012 interview, he shared this about the goal of his artwork: “What I want to convey through painting is God’s way of being that is embodied in the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. He’s not a distant, absent God, but a God who became human in Jesus.” In his work, Mino also seeks to convey “the paschal situation of the Latin American people—between life and death. A death that leads to the Resurrection.” In this mural, we see Jesus with two travelers on a deadly road, coming not only to meet them in their deepest need, but also provide bread for them as the Bread of Life, the One in whom we can trust to never go hungry or thirsty (John 6:34-35). Jesus is the ultimate answer to the prayer "Give us this day our daily bread," and He reveals how we get to follow Him in sharing from His abundance with fellow travelers on the road of this life. After all, they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:29-30, 35).
Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, 1606 A.D.
Jesus' Presence and Peace Frees Us from Performance
To close this visio divina page on the story of Emmaus, here is a classic work by the Italian baroque master, Caravaggio. He actually created two versions of this moment in the life of Jesus, one in 1601 A.D., and this one in 1606 A.D. By comparison, the gestures of the people in the latter painting pictured above are far more restrained, making Jesus' presence more important than any "performance." As also is known with his work, Caravaggio is trying to express that Jesus not only met the disciples on the road to Emmaus in their context among their point in history, but if He is resurrected, then He can meet us in ours. Notice that all the people are dressed like and look like Italians in the early 1600s. Caravaggio seems to suggest that perhaps Jesus could enter our daily encounters in any time and place, just as he is envisioning people encountering Jesus in what was his modern day Italian setting. This is the prayer and hope of Emmaus City Church, that we would have the privilege to see people throughout Worcester and beyond encounter Jesus at their tables and experience His presence and peace that frees them from needing to pretend or perform.
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