Monday, March 28, 2016

Life After the Cross: Encounter on the way to Emmaus

When the women went to the tomb early that morning, they found the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and two angels who told them Jesus was alive. The women took the news to the disciples, but no one believed their words. Peter and John ran to see for themselves.

It was true. Jesus had risen. 

The news spread like wildfire through Jerusalem. Cleopas and another man were walking to Emmaus, about seven miles outside Jerusalem. They had been followers of Jesus and were heartbroken about his crucifixion, stunned and confused by the news the women had delivered. 

Jesus met them on the road, but they didn't recognize Him. He asked about their conversation and they told Him all about this "mighty prophet". I wonder if He had to suppress a smile as the two men told Jesus all about Himself.

Cleopas and his friend had hoped Jesus would redeem Israel, they told him, but he had been killed. There were rumors of His resurrection. They didn't know what to believe.

Jesus explained everything.

They'd sat at His feet, probably many times, but they didn't recognize Him.

Because of their grief and their unbelief (in the resurrection) they were focused on themselves, their sorrow, and their loss, not the man walking with them. As a result, they failed to recognize the Savior at their side.

I've been there before. I've had quite a few "after" days. Maybe you have, too. 

Devastating heartbreak. Shattered dreams. Agonizing pain. Crushing emptiness. Overwhelming loneliness. The struggle to make it through that first hour, the first day. The dark and lonely night. The dawn and the realization that the heartbreak is still there and life must go on. The fear that life will never be good again.

Jesus' disciples felt all those emotions and more. Their minds were a mass of confusion and uncertainty and grief. 

Their focus was on themselves.

Jesus was the same, yet different. He was unfamiliar, yet clearly recognizable. 

I don't completely understand why they didn't recognize Him, but the nail-pierced hands were the same, and the scars were still there. When they looked closer, the disciples saw Him. They recognized Him. They knew Him.

I'm not sure if grief or unbelief clouded their eyes, but their failure to recognize Him at the first did not change the reality of His presence. 

It's the same for us. In those first shocking moments of heartbreak, it's common to feel alone. It's important to remember, though, that feelings are not always the same as reality. 

Feeling alone does not mean we are.

Our God promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) 

Our Savior promised a Helper who would be with us forever. (John 14:16)

No matter what we face, we do not go through it alone. 

We have a Comforter who goes with us and helps us. When we take our eyes off our own pain, we can see the clear evidence of God's hand at work in our situation.

That's what happened with the two men on the road to Emmaus. They stopped to eat, Jesus gave the blessing and broke the bread, and their eyes were opened. They knew Him. 

"Weren't our hearts burning within us?" they said afterward. (Luke 24:22)

Being in the presence of the Risen Savior changed them. His presence was too wonderful to keep to themselves. They left that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, another seven mile journey, to share the good news. 

Being in the presence of our Risen Lord should always leave us changed. 

For the believer, Easter makes all the difference. We serve a God who is alive and that fact makes a greater difference than we can fully understand.

Our God defeated death. Our God defeated sin. Our God defeated the power of darkness.

He is victorious, and we can be, too, if we will follow Him.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Holy Week Day 7: The Empty Tomb

#Emmaus #Jesus #linesfromleanna