Wednesday, April 20, 2022

After Easter Encouragement: The Emmaus Road


We’ve all recently celebrated the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is in fact the savior who is alive, and present in our lives. As we reflected on the empty tomb, let us now reflect on some very mysterious moments that occurred afterward.

The disciples went into hiding during the crucifixion. All but John, who stayed with Jesus during the entire crucifixion. But now amid rumors that Christ was alive and had even appeared to Peter, two of the disciples were out walking on the Emmaus road, seven miles from Jerusalem.

They’re talking about everything that happened in amazement. And a 3rd person, a mysterious figure appeared and joined them on the road.

For the two disciples, Cleopas and his friend, this is a dark road. This is a rocky, miserable road, the word says their faces were downcast, they were sorrowful.

And they were reflecting on everything that had happened. It had been the craziest three years of their lives. They had walked day and night with Jesus, God in human form. What would it have been like? To even spend a few minutes with Jesus would be a dream beyond anything I could imagine. But they spent three years with him.

Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt like you were swept up into something bigger than yourself, something special? That is an incredible feeling, to know you were and are part of something special, important, bigger than yourself. And yet, at the same time, for the disciples it had been a hard time, it had been a time of constant controversy, as some accepted and some rejected the teachings of Jesus. 

I think many of us can relate to this situation on the Emmaus road. We’ve been through the COVID-19 pandemic, and so much more in the past few years. And we were not passive participants, no, we were engaged in the battle, day and night, serving as part of God’s army, the Salvation Army.

In the wake of all that, we’ve been left with wounds and battle scars, we’ve been left with unresolved traumatic stress, and I bet some of you can relate to how I’ve felt at times; just a bit downcast, a bit melancholy, a bit reflective, sitting back, wondering at everything that happened.

Can you relate to this mindset? Do you now find yourself in ponderous self reflection? After everything, we often drift off in quiet moments and think about what it all meant.

So one might say, we are all together, walking on this road, the Emmaus road, through the cool air, the trees and branches, the rocks, and shoals, wondering to ourselves, what just happened? 

Very often we are left wondering as Christians. When a question pops into our heads, Jesus doesn’t suddenly pop up and answer the question does he? No, we’re often left wondering. What was all this about? What did it mean? Why did it happen like this?

The disciples are walking along, and a third person joins them. They don’t know who it is. But this person speaks to them about Jesus. And points to all these different scriptures from the Torah, from the prophets, which reminds the disciples of what it’s really all about.

Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we don’t understand. Sometimes we get a bit fuzzy, and we lose touch with what really matters.

This man tells the two disciples: “Remember, this is what was supposed to happen.” God planned it out this way. It had to happen this way. If Jesus hadn’t died, there would be no forgiveness for sin. And death wasn’t the end. 

“This isn’t the end guys,” is what this mysterious figure seems to say, as they walked that dry craggy road.

It says their hearts were burning within them. Their hearts began to blaze with the truth. This 3rd figure is igniting something inside them. From the cold ashes of a once blazing fire, fresh logs fall, leaves and dust cover, and sparks turn to open flame.

No matter how close we are to God, no matter how effective our prayer life, how deep our study of scripture, we often forget, and drift, and lose heart. We end up a little depressed, a little cynical, walking that long road, thinking to ourselves: Well, I guess it’s just too late. Well, it didn’t go my way. Well, the Lord is missing, where is He?

Jesus might say to us today: “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

So they listen to him, on the road, and at the end of the road, they invite this stranger to eat dinner with them. The man breaks bread for them and they eat, their eyes are opened and they realize, it’s Jesus.

He is with us in the battles we face. As we patiently follow the savior, he inevitably comes to us on the road and encourages us, and gives us new hope. Our sorrow is turned to joy and excitement. Our timidity turns to boldness.

This is the mystery of divine personality, the mystery of how God communicates with us. The mystery of who He is. He is the God who turns sorrow to joy.

In this life we will face trouble, battles, dark times, difficulties, but we must continue to believe that God will come to us, in the most unexpected ways, to help us, heal us, encourage us, and bring us through. He has not abandoned us. He is still with us. Even when it seems like everything is out of control, God is in control.

After this encounter on the Emmaus road, the two disciples gathered with the others and told them about meeting Jesus, and suddenly Jesus appeared in their midst, and he encouraged them to believe that He was really alive.

Then it says at the conclusion of Luke’s gospel: “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” -Luke 24:51-53

Reflect right now on the fact that you can trust God with your life. You can trust God to come to you. You can trust God to be with you always on the rough road. He has not left you alone. And you will find new hope, new encouragement, and strength to carry on through the ups and downs of life.

He will turn your confusion and even your sorrow, into rejoicing. Great joy. The fire within that burns with passion for the risen Christ may have dwindled down, but seek the Lord, and He will stoke your fire with fresh kindling and your heart will burn brightly within once again. 

Pray now. Talk to God right now. Reaffirm complete trust in His will and plan, even when it’s hard. Invite him to heal you right now. Talk to God, and let Him speak to you.