When you were a child, were you a fan of superheroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, or Batman? If so, you aren’t alone. Children want to know secrets and tap in to something beyond the ordinary. Even as adults we want to believe that there is a hidden factor in life that we can tap into and fulfill our destiny. We are fascinated by the idea of extrasensory perception, or ESP, of somehow communicating mysteriously across miles.
Most of us hope that there is a force or power out there that is trying to get through to us to improve our lives. The last place most of us think of finding that power is in the Christian faith. Christianity often seems dull. Christianity may be true, but sometimes it isn’t very exciting. That’s because we forget that the most powerful force in the universe is present within us. That force is the Holy Spirit. This is the message of the Emmaus Road story, which we read in Luke 24:13-35.
On the Saturday before Easter, most people spend their day doing egg hunts, cooking, and expecting Easter Sunday. The feelings of Jesus’ followers were not especially. These people were grieving the loss of a friend, a teacher. Maybe doubt had crept in. Maybe they questioned if they had been deceived. Maybe they believed they were next to be crucified.
These two men on the road to Emmaus. were disciples of Jesus, perhaps among the seventy that Jesus had sent out. They had heard the message of Christ’s resurrection, but their hearts were broken, believing it was all a fraud. They still did not understand who Jesus was. They saw Him as a mighty prophet, not as the Messiah and the Son of God. The two men did not know that their traveling companion was Jesus, even though they knew the Bible. There is a difference between studying Scripture and spending time with the Author.
We are like these two men even with all we know and believe about Jesus. Why is it that sometimes we still don’t recognize Jesus on our journey? Most of us could make a list of excuses, but the most common excuse is busyness. This excuse is valid with the complexity of life these days. If Jesus is not woven into the very fabric of our busy lives, then we are travelling down the wrong path in life.
A disoriented spirit can often suffer from a form of inner blindness, an inability to see what is right and true and beautiful in front of us. The brain masks the obvious, and we are propelled into our worst stories, catastrophizing outcomes, and beginning to believe that our worst fears are being realized.
If we are to recognize that Jesus accompanies us on our own Emmaus Roads, we need a heightened sense of awareness. We should know Jesus, because we have the Scriptures to reflect His image, but it is still possible for us to read the Scriptures and have no glimpse of Jesus. We can be so preoccupied with life’s hurts and disappointments that we overlook what God says in His Word, but He is with us, nevertheless. We need to expect each day that Jesus will reveal Himself to us.
Jesus asked the men, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”. Many of us would pause at his question and give Him a litany of issues on our mind. His question is addressed to traveling disciples like us. We can tell Him what’s bothering us, such as families, jobs, violence in our neighborhoods, or the environment. He is listening. We can start talking to Him.
For these two men, when Jesus died on the cross, all their hopes of rescue from Roman opposition had died with Him. They were looking for an immediate earthly kingdom. They were struggling with doubt about whether He was the Messiah who would reign. Because their hope was gone, they discounted the testimony of the women at the empty tomb. They still regarded Jesus as a prophet.
After Jesus opened the Scriptures for the two, blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them, their eyes were opened. They recognized what they had missed in the beginning: Jesus was with them, all along, listening to their disappointment and bewilderment. Now that they recognized Him and thought about what hardships may lie ahead for them as His disciples, they pleaded, “Stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is over.” They were not referring to clock time. They were saying, “Stay with us—don’t leave us in the darkness.”
The resurrected Jesus challenges our false assumptions too. Without the Resurrection, Jesus is just a martyr, a moral teacher, a dead hero, or a liar. Jesus’ resurrection challenges the common false beliefs in our culture that all religions are true and equal, and any attempt at morality will earn you a seat in heaven.
We often hope that Jesus will do something for us. We want Him to make us successful, relieve our loneliness, free us from an uncomfortable situation at work, and more. Jesus is a powerful prophet, but He is infinitely more. Many people today know the basic facts about Jesus, but we are still learning to put together the whole story.
Our hopes and dreams do not always get dashed. A lot of them get diminished or watered down, a little at a time. How many times have we started projects with enthusiasm and high hopes, and then, with the passage of time and facing obstacles, we discover that we are investing less and less of ourselves in the effort. We need our hopes nourished because if what we hope for is important-such as peace, care for the elderly, hunger, homelessness, or the lack of affordable housing-then we will need encouragement, passion, perseverance, clear thinking, and the support of a believing and hoping community.
Jesus does not rebuke them for not believing the testimony of the women or the testimony of the empty tomb. He chides them for not believing the testimony of the Scriptures. Jesus’ rebuke to correct His followers misunderstanding in this instance is a good word to believers in every era to pay attention to all the Scriptures. While the Bible certainly portrays the Messiah as a ruling king, it also presents Him as a suffering servant. Both parts of Scripture must be honoured and believed.
Perhaps He expounded on the messianic psalms or spoke of Abraham and Isaac, explaining that although God had spared Isaac, He had not spared His own Son. Or perhaps He quoted Isaiah 53:6 by saying, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
As the men drew near their destination, Jesus did not force Himself into their home. He waited until they invited Him in, and then He became a crucial part of their lives. The result was fellowship. We have Jesus’ promise that when two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst.
When Jesus finally revealed His identity to the two disciples at Emmaus, they were filled with joy. It’s the same joy we feel when we realize that God is walking with us, listening to us, and sharing His time with us. The Lord who has come to us with humility and grace is the one to whom we can always pray.
Although His resurrected body was real and tangible, and even capable of eating earthly food, it also had certain properties that indicated it was glorified and altered in a mysterious way. He could appear and disappear bodily. He could pass through solid objects. He could also travel great distances in a moment. We many propose many theories about why Jesus vanished as soon as He was recognized, but they would be just that: theories. God often doesn’t explain Himself. He simply asks us to trust Him.
Jesus the guest quickly became Jesus the host. In an Eastern setting, bread was not sliced but came as an entire loaf. To serve the bread, a person broke off a piece and gave it to another. Apparently Jesus’ distinct way of doing this revealed His identity. Instantly, Jesus vanished from their sight, having previously promised in Luke 22:16 that He would not eat with His disciples again until He was in the Kingdom. Now the Kingdom had come!
When they invited Jesus in, everything changed. The same is true today. When we invite the resurrected Jesus into our lives as our only Saviour and Lord, He does not merely come in and take a seat; He takes over. When we discover true hope in the plans and promises of God, we will be moved from a place of sorrow to a place of service. He changes us through His ongoing presence. He gives us new perspective and new understanding. He gives us peace and joy that are beyond our understanding.
Through the Holy Spirit, Christ now leads Christians on a journey to God, a journey in which disappointed hopes are interrupted by the recognition that the Risen Lord walks by their side. When we recognize his companionship on the way, we allow Him to breathe life into our despair and frame our aimless, anxious journey in His Way.
Has your heart ever burned within you as if Jesus was speaking to you personally? Jesus left us His Word and His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit living within our hearts, we can discern spiritual things, and it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can understand God’s Word.
The events of Easter cannot be reduced to a creed or philosophy. We are not asked to believe in the doctrine of the Resurrection. We are asked to meet the person raised from the dead. In faith, we move from a belief in the doctrine of the resurrection to knowledge of a person. We can say, “We met Him; He is alive.”
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- “Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us? Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Dr. Lanie LeBlanc, OP, “Volume 2, Third Sunday of Easter Year A, April 23, 2023” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org