One of my favorite Bible stories is the “Encounter on the Road to Emmaus” (Luke 24.) In it, two followers of Jesus are walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. They have just witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. They are devastated. And to make matters more confounding, the tomb where Jesus was buried has been found empty that very morning and people are claiming Jesus is alive. These two simply don’t know what to make of it.
The Bible says that as they were discussing all this, the resurrected Jesus himself came up beside them and started talking to them!
And they didn’t recognize him.
That is the most intriguing part of the story for me. I always wonder why they didn’t recognize Jesus, their friend they had loved and followed. The Bible doesn’t say, so we are left to speculate.
The Bible does say, however, that they “stood before him with their faces downcast.”
That part always jumps out at me. I think of times in my life when I have been so downcast with my own sorrow, depression and grief that I didn’t realize Jesus was walking right beside me.
If I simply look up, I see that Jesus is right there before me. The all-powerful, victorious, resurrected Jesus.
Fix your eyes on Him!
On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulershanded him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke itand began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lordhas risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Have you had times in your life that feel like you are walking in darkness? This year has been one of those times for me. Job stress, financial stress, relationship stress, health challenges, caring for aging family members…
For our family this past year, it seems just as we managed one crisis, another would come along to take its place. I have an optimistic nature almost to a fault, but this year has tested my typical positive attitude and resolve.
And yet, the Light has come. Isaiah says, “On those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
Maybe those of us who have walked in darkness experience the most joy at the first glimmer of light.
Take heart. The Light is coming. Christmas is almost here. Jesus was born not just to comfort us in our affliction but to be our Rescuer. He walks with us through the darkness always leading us into Light.
After walking through a year with more doubt and fear than peace and joy, I am looking forward to starting a new year of walking in the Light.
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” – Francis Bacon
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!