Will you join with me in reading a passage from the scriptures? Try to really picture the situation:
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven mile from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing HIm.
And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days”
And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “the things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rules delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that is was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.
But they urged Him. saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, an the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gather together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “the Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:13-35 (NASB)
Just before this portion of the Gospel, Jesus’ tomb had been found empty by Mary Magdalene, Joanna, & Mary (the mother of James) and some other women. While they were there pondering its emptiness, Angels appeared before them declaring Christ risen.
The women, believing in the fulfillment of the scriptures and of what Jesus Himself had told them, told the apostles about the blessed assurance they received from the angels – Christ indeed had conquered the grave and risen!
Some of the apostles didn’t believe. So stark was their unbelief that they thought the women were saying nonsense!
Never mind that it was the third day.
Never mind that it was the fulfillment of scriptures.
Never mind that it was just as Jesus had taught them.
When you don’t believe, the things of Scripture are nonsense. Belief is essential to seeing clearly.
” For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Co 1:18 We enter this portion of the scripture where two of those (Cleopas & Simon) who couldn’t believe were journeying away from Jerusalem, away from the cross, away from the their life commitment. Every road has two directions. We, too, are on this road. The question is: In which direction are we headed? Toward Jesus? Or away?
We can’t condemn these two men. This is honest, real life. They had tried. They had given up everything. It seemed, in the natural, to be over. For them, there was no point in delaying the inevitable. They were on the road because it seemed their belief didn’t pan out. They weren’t happy about it. They were sad. They were disappointed. They were hurt. That’s why they kept talking about it while walking.
So deep was their despair that when Jesus Himself began walking with them, they didn’t realize it. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Co 2:14) They even rudely asked if He was the only person who didn’t know what had happened.
Jesus responded with gentleness, openness, and a listening to ear. We are never forced to love, know or serve the Lord. The proof of this is that we run from Him. We walk away from Him; and even while we are abandoning our faith, He is there – even though we don’t recognize Him. He tries gently, being available to hear and bear all of our doubts, fears and pain. In Luke 8 when Jesus set the demon-possessed man free, His purpose was to bring the Good News to those people. He removed an obstacle for them; He performed a miracle. But in the end the people didn’t want Him there. He moved on to other areas, leaving behind the testimony of His miracle. He never forced them; He doesn’t force us. But His love enables us to choose Him.
Jesus ate with the two men. In the midst of their choice to re-opening their hearts to the wisdom and fulfillment of the scriptures, they were finally able to recognize Jesus. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Heb 3:12)
A hard heart doesn’t see Jesus; and the hardening of the heart is a choice.
It’s always TODAY as in this scripture. Jesus admonishes them as the prophet did in Isaiah 6:10. On that day, when they held faster to the truth of Jesus’ scriptures than to their present troubles, they were able to recognize Him. So, too, can we.After spiritual blindness left them, so did Jesus in terms of His physical presence. But He never leaves us alone. We have the Holy Spirit with us at all times for a guide.
Being able to recognize Jesus is life-changing.
It is so life changing that these two changed what they were doing. They got back on the road even though it was night! Not something that people would normally do in those days. This time, though, they were headed back to Jerusalem; back toJesus. The same applies to us. How Jesus changes our lives should cause us to take certain actions, to make changes, to even reverse direction on the road we are on.
Which way are you going? The choice is there for you today. It doesn’t matter if things appear to be wrapped up in perfect timing. Simon and Cleopas turned around even in the middle of the night. The important thing is seeing Jesus clearly.
How do we do this?
Re-read this Word: Luke 24:13-35
Slowly examine your own life including all aspects of your personhood: your parenting, your career, your marriage, your aspirations, your health, etc. One at a time- maybe one aspect a day, one a week, whatever it takes. See if your actions show that Jesus is Lord of your life, that you have accepted the life-changing salvation of the Lord. Our faith is not just what we say or nod along with while we sit in the pews for a Sunday message, our faith is visible how we DO our lives.
If there is an area in which you are walking away from Jesus; find a way to turn around. If you don’t know how – seek the wisdom of the scriptures, seek the wisdom of wise counsel. Jesus doesn’t ask us to know how to do everything; He asks us to put Him first. He places us in families, in churches, in communities with others so that we can help each other do just that.
Remind yourself that whether You sense His presence at a particular moment or not, Jesus is there. He will never leave or forsake you. Memorize and meditate on Hebrews 13:5-6.