(This series was originally posted in October 2011 on my personal blogsite. We thought we would share it with you all this resurrection week.)
This week we are taking a walk with two disciples and Jesus. During this walk, we will explore seven lessons from the story of the Road to Emmaus. Our text for the week is from The Message translation of Luke 24:13-32.
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
— Luke 24:13-32 (The Message)
Jesus then asks the men what has happened in Jerusalem. Dumbfounded, they take a minute and explain.
We saw him die.
Now, some of the women say He’s not dead.
We saw him die.
Lesson 4: We have to let experiences strengthen our faith
The two men believed that this man, Jesus, had to be the Messiah. He had to. That was the only explanation for the miracles. That was the only explanation for the prophecies that had been fulfilled. Prophecies that they had watched be fulfilled.
But, we saw Him die.
Oftentimes, we allow our faith to be overruled by our one bad experience, instead of strengthened by our many good experiences.
These men had the experience of seeing Jesus day-in and day-out. After all, they looked like they had lost their best-friend. They had likely traveled many miles with Jesus.
Maybe they were there when He healed blind Bartimaeus.
Maybe they were there when He fed the 5,000, the 4,000 or both.
Maybe they were there when He healed Jarius’ daughter.
Maybe they were there when He turned the water into wine.
Maybe they were there when the woman merely touches the hem of Jesus’ robe and is healed.
Maybe they were there when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
All of those experiences – even raising the dead – were overridden by one other experience.
They had watched Him die.
He was dead.
Sometimes in our lives, we see God do miraculous things. Yet, we write them off to “good fortune”, “luck”, “clean-living”, “chance”, “coincidence”, or “fate”. When we write them off to something other than a miracle of God, then they cannot be used to strengthen our faith.
Think of all the times in the Gospels where we see Jesus do the miraculous only to find the followers (of which these men were two) in disbelief. Look at the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000. Jesus does it. Big miracle. Shortly thereafter Jesus tells them to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. And the disciples think He’s getting on to them for forgetting bread.
We have to let experiences build our faith.
These two men were ignoring all the experiences they had with Jesus except one. They had watched Him die.
Maybe if they were focusing on Lazarus’ miraculous walk out of the tomb, then this conversation would have been different. Maybe then they would have recognized Jesus.
Perhaps if we began to recognize the “mundane” as a miracle, then our outlook would be different, and we would recognize Jesus when He is in our midst?
Maybe it wasn’t just good fortune that the tax-rebate check showed up in the mail on the very day the house payment was due.
Maybe it wasn’t luck that you didn’t get sick when your kids were.
Maybe it wasn’t just clean-living that kept the person in the car behind you from hitting you when they slammed on the brakes in the rain.
Maybe it wasn’t just chance that the car stopped running within rolling distance of the gas pump.
Maybe it wasn’t just coincidence that the person parked in the closest spot was getting into their car just as you pulled up.
Maybe it wasn’t just fate that the pine tree fell onto the yard instead of the roof above your daughter’s room.
Maybe it’s time we started thanking God for the “mundane”. Maybe it’s time we started treating the “mundane” like it was a miracle.
Perhaps that would make it a tad easier to recognize Jesus.