A Journey from Confusion to Confidence
Read Luke 24:13-21a (MSG)
13 That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem.
14 They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened.
15 In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them.
16 But they were not able to recognize who he was.
17 He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?" They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend.
18 Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"
19 He said, "What has happened?" They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people.
20 Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him.
21 And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel.
Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in the English language begin with the letter ‘D’? For example: disappointment, doubt, disillusionment, defeat, despair, and death? All of these words are sum up the feelings of Cleopas and his companion as they trudged down the road on their way to Emmaus. Their hopes and dreams had been shattered! Instead of a Messiah who would free Israel from the hated Romans, they had a leader who was crucified without any resistance from Him or the Heavenly Father.
What would they do now? Cleopas and his fellow disciple decided to return to their homes in Emmaus. Although they were disappointed and discouraged they planned to attempt to resume their previous lives. However, some of the disciples were even too fearful to leave Jerusalem so they locked themselves in a room hiding from the authorities.
A stranger suddenly joined them and asked what their conversation was about and why they appeared so downcast. Incredulous, they asked Him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know the events that happened during the last three days?” The stranger asked them in return, “What events?” and they answered, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a great prophet. Just a week ago we and the other disciples led the crowds in cheering the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah and now He lays dead in a sealed tomb.” In reply He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn't you realize that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before He could come into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). They listened intensely but their eyes still were not’ open to the identity of the stranger.
Sometimes we imagine what we would have done if we had lived in those days. Surely our eyes would have been opened to His identity and message but I wonder if this is true! I would suggest that even now we do not often recognize His presence in our everyday life!
Why might this be? Some Christian authors point out for many people, the Christian faith seems disconnected from how they think and feel and deal with life. The writers claim such people are not true atheists for the most part. They may believe in a God who loves them; they might even accept that Jesus lived and died and rose again.
They assert that the problem for many people isn’t that their faith is not believable rather it just doesn’t seem relevant to their present-day life. They accept the Christian faith in the same way that they agree that the sun is 93 million miles from earth. This may be trustworthy information, to be sure, but not really relevant to the problems and concerns of everyday life.
The authors’ assertions remind me of a story of a boy who one day found a gold coin along the road. From then on, he kept his eyes on the ground as he walked, watching for coins. During his long lifetime, he found a good number of coins but in the meanwhile he never saw the beauty of his surroundings or sensed God’s presence. To him, the world meant only a dusty road, dreary and ugly, merely a place to look for coins.
Thousands of people seem to dwarf their lives and hinder the possibilities of spiritual growth by looking downward. Never lifting their eyes or minds from the dust of the earthly road they travel. They never lift their eyes off earthly pleasures! They live to gather money, to scheme for power or to find self-fulfillment. They do not seem to gain glimpses of God when seeing a newborn child or behold the majesty of a sunrise. Consequently, they do not acknowledge the source of the beauty, which surrounds them as their eyes are blinded by the dust of the earthly road!
As Christians, we profess to know Jesus, but sometimes we do not recognize Him. We frequently fail to see His presence in those persons whose skin is of different color or in those whose beliefs are not the same of ours. Admittedly, it is difficult to see Him those whom we find hard to love. But Jesus exhorts us to remove the log from our own eye, that we may see our brothers and sisters more clearly (Matthew 7:4-5). Do really believe His promise to always be with us or do we just dismiss it as pious words?
How often does Jesus come near with the purpose of manifesting Himself to us, and yet we do not see Him? A key to sensing His presence is to be receptive and believe that He really does wants to communicate with us.
When He broke bread, Cleopas and his friend recognized Him and they hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples the good news (Luke 24:30-31). So like them we too can have confidence in His promise to be always with us and our hearts will also burn with this assurance and we too will accept that He lives and is readily available to us. All we need to do is ask!
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” * (An old English Proverb)
Prayer: “Tomorrow you will get up and do the things you need to do. Remember that Christ is present with you unseen as you do them, and know that you may get a glimpse of Him if you do not close your heart and mind to Him.” Amen