So let’s take a moment here to talk about this very real struggle all parents have. You send your child into another room to get something, you tell them where it is and they come back and say it isn’t there, you say yes it is and you explain again where it is and they come back again and say it isn’t there, so you get up and walk in there with them and behold the object is right where you told them and they just shrug or say they didn’t see it. That is kind of what happened in today’s scripture reading, sometimes we just don’t see what is actually in front of us, until somebody points it out to us.
In today’s scripture, there were two folks walking down the road, talking to Jesus, yet they didn’t recognize it was Jesus until later. How does that happen?
Think about it for these 2 guys walking on the road to Emmaus, a little town about 7 miles from Jerusalem, all was lost. Jesus had died, and even though they say the women went to the tomb and it was empty and the angels spoke to them, and still others went and found it empty . . . they really didn’t seem to believe this to be true.
Maybe the Romans were the ones who took the body to mess with their hearts and minds. You know the odds . . . I’m not much of a gambler, but it’s a pretty safe bet, that 1 out of every 1 person is going to die. Everybody dies. And in our reality, they stay that way. That’s how it works, there’s no changing that.
These two guys are disciples of Jesus. They weren’t part of the 11, but they were followers, they were part of the group who were devoted to caring for Jesus and to believing that He was the One who would redeem Israel.
They were there. They witnessed the brutality of the cross. They saw all that happened to destroy His physical body . . . the beatings, the ridicule, the desertion, the cross, the spear thrust into His side. They were there.
They must have been in town that Sunday morning and heard the stories from the women. The bewilderment, the confusion about what happened to the body of Jesus. They weren’t buying it. They were saddened that Jesus died. They had no expectation of His return.
Luke tells us about the encounter with Jesus, when Jesus said to them -
17 “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
They looked sad. They were lost, depressed, demoralized! Seriously, would we have been so different?
Remember, the dead don’t come back. Somebody took His body. The tomb is empty . . . and so are their hearts and spirits. Their minds are racing.
After they begin talking to Jesus they say one of the most disheartening things -
21 But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.
We had hoped He was the one. . . . WOW! Have you ever been there in your walk with Jesus? Have you ever had that sense that I HAD HOPED . . .
I’m not talking about wishful thinking. I’m talking about true belief in expecting something to happen in our lives. You fervently prayed for something to happen and it didn’t. Maybe it was healing, maybe it was a job, maybe it was school, maybe it was for your marriage or kids, whatever it was . . . it didn’t go the way you hoped . . . and now your hope is gone.
These guys had hope. Their hope was in Jesus. But He’s dead and dead people don’t come back to life.
But here’s where we are different. Without Easter, where is our faith? What is our faith? It’s crazy, but we must have an Easter faith. We must not doubt it, even when the world is telling us we are crazy.
The resurrection is the foundation of our faith. Imagine calling yourself a follower of Christ but denying the resurrection. What kind of faith is that. There’s no miracles, no hope for a future life. You just live, try to do good, and then you die and that is it!
If you take the resurrection out of your faith, you have nothing. That’s why their hearts were burning when Jesus was recounting the Biblical story of Moses and all the Prophets and as he was revealing the Scriptures of the things concerning Himself (vs 27). It was showing how everything pointed to Jesus, the stories and the prophets all lead to the revelation of Jesus as the Christ.
It culminates in the resurrection, a resurrection, or an Easter faith . . . which lasts forever.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes about the resurrection. It is one of longest passages about the resurrection. With 58 verses. I’m not going to read all 58 verses but I am going to read a few of them to you.
12 -“ Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
13 - “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen”
14 - “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”
17 - “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
18 - “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”.
19 - “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
20 - “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”(died)
Can you hear what Paul is saying? If we don’t believe in the resurrection, then we are to be pitied and our faith is in vain. We are living a deceiving life. It’s all messed up and we’re more messed up than anyone.
The resurrection is the focus of who we are in Christ. Without the resurrection, we really are to be pitied and ridiculed.
Back to the journey
These guys didn’t get it. They had lost hope. What’s really cool is that Jesus doesn’t rip into them, he isn’t angry with them. . He doesn’t tell them how messed up they are, although He does call them foolish. They were foolish, not fools. They were foolish because they let go of their trust and belief in the One they believed in and trusted in. When Jesus was there, they believed, when He was gone their unbelief grew, their faith faltered.
Jesus filled in the blanks for them, so that they were no longer staring blankly into their loss.
Let’s think about this.
How many times have you believed when times were good? How many times did you say thank you to God when you received what you hoped for? How many times have you said, “Yes of course I believe in Jesus! I don’t doubt!”
But then the unthinkable happens. We don’t get what we want. We fall onto hard times. We struggle more with our health. We endure loss and grief.
Suddenly that joy and presence of Jesus gets ruffled and we struggle.
That’s part of what’s happening here. The question is how can we make Jesus real to us, real in the good times and the struggles. How can we cultivate that relationship with Jesus when life is going just right, just the way we want it? It’s pretty easy to take God for granted in the good times. But that’s when we need to push ourselves to grow closer to Jesus.
Jesus has promised us that He will walk with us. He will never abandon us, never forsake us, never look at us and think to Himself, that’s it for you. I’m sick and tired of that dude. Yup, God says dude! He’s not going to do that to any of us.
Listen to what Isaiah tells us -
41:10 - “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
41:13 - “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, Fear not, I will help you.”
Also, think about Psalm 23 - Our comfort comes in proclaiming
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul’ He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
The bottom line is there is joy to hold onto no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. .Jesus has promised us that He will be with us. When we struggle with recognizing His presence, know that He is with you.
As you walk that road to Emmaus. As you struggle with whatever is going on in your life, trust in the promise that He is walking right there with you. He has not abandoned you, He has not left you to fend for yourself.
He is your constant presence. Jesus . . . is here. Wherever you are today . . . Jesus is with you, He is present. Sometimes we just need to open our hearts, our spirits, our minds and let Him in and celebrate the joy of Christ’s presence, grace and love.
‒ Pastor Pam