Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)
We all have walked the road to Emmaus. Sometimes it leads to our very homes. Sometimes it leads us to a different city. But the reality is that the very road is the same. It’s the road of doubt, the road of despair, the road of emptiness, the road of confusion, the road of self-doubt . . . regardless of the emotion, it’s the road when we could not see God waking beside us. It’s the road of doubt and despair that ultimately leads us to see Christ in our lives.
We doubt and despair in times of sickness or when someone we know has a terminal disease. That’s when we travel the road of doubt asking why this would happen to such a person. If there is a God, why does he permit such things to happen? Then somehow, sooner or later, God breaks through into our lives. We come to accept our human limitations, learn how to share in suffering, toss aside our anger with God, and see how God is at work in our lives through this sickness.
We travel this same road when we experience a death in the family. The death of a loved one brings on doubt and despair. Why does Covid take someone I love? As death is dealt with and accepted, and as people work through their grief, they gradually come to life again. They travel the road from doubt and despair to belief as did those two disciples walking to Emmaus.
We spend our whole lives making this trip over and over again. We are constantly taking this trip from doubt and despair to faith. But along the way, we experience the Resurrection of Jesus. We discover Jesus alive and with us. Sometimes we are so caught up in our doubt and despair that we cannot see Jesus as he travels with us. The very moments of doubt and despair are themselves a sign of God at work in our lives. God works through us, just as he once did with Jesus.
Too often we think that our Lord is present only in extraordinary ways. But that is not true! He is constantly present to us in very ordinary ways. When we look back and remember the way God has worked in our own lives, we can cherish what he has done on our behalf. When that addiction you had was broken, God worked in your life. When you had a broken heart that you thought would never heal or the love of your life died, God was right beside you the whole time, sustaining you. When you didn’t recognize your own talents, mentors came alongside to encourage and guide you. When you thought you messed up so much that God could never love or accept you, he did…and he does. That’s just a glimpse of what God has done and is doing in our lives.
Jesus’ words for his disciples today are the same as they were for those disciples on the road to Emmaus. The risen Christ is with us, walking right beside us, talking to us, even during those tough times when we can’t recognize his presence. And when we recognize that, we will also understand more fully how we should glorify God- even in the midst of our present circumstances. The reality is that we have hope, we have victory and we have a God who loves us for who we are and for who we ever hope to be.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, thank You for loving me so much that You are always with me. Help me to see You and to recognize Your gentle and still voice. Give me the eyes of faith to see You and help me to discern Your presence in every ordinary event of my day. I love You, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.
What blinds us to our risen Lord? What keeps us from seeing God clearly? Is it disappointment, when life’s events don’t meet our expectations, that clouds our vision? I think there’s a threat, particularly in the western world, where as a church culture, we become so familiar with the general storyline of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ, that we lose the reverence for his holiness. We’ve been taught that God is always with us and working in our lives, but were so stressed, confused, distracted or excited that we miss the presence of God. And even when we do become aware of it, it seems like that red dot that flashes on the floor or wall while we watch the cat the pounce on it. “I’ve got it! Oh…where’d it go?” That’s why God calls us to remember.