In this week following Easter it can be a challenge for us as Christians to keep the feelings we experience on Easter Sunday alive. As time passes we begin to lose that “resurrection high” and slowly the reality of everyday life can begin to take back over. The joy from Sunday can easily become the misery of Monday morning and the Passion story becomes just another passing moment in our spiritual lives. So how do we keep that hopeful feeling from Easter morning alive throughout the year?
I love the story in Luke about the encounter on the road to Emmaus. For most of us we tend to think of this part of the post crucifixion Easter story as just one of the several appearances Jesus made after his resurrection and simply read it as only part of the list of examples that He was indeed alive.
What if there was more to the story? What if the story of the road to Emmaus was really less about being just another viewing and more about the new relationship with Christ made possible by his death and resurrection?
13 Picture this:
That same day, two other disciples (not of the eleven) are traveling the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. 14 As they walk along, they talk back and forth about all that has transpired during recent days. 15 While they’re talking, discussing, and conversing, Jesus catches up to them and begins walking with them, 16 but for some reason they don’t recognize Him.
Jesus: 17 You two seem deeply engrossed in conversation. What are you talking about as you walk along this road?
They stop walking and just stand there, looking sad. 18 One of them—Cleopas is his name—speaks up.
Cleopas: You must be the only visitor in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about what’s been going on over the last few days.
Jesus:19 What are you talking about?
Two Disciples: It’s all about the man named Jesus of Nazareth. He was a mighty prophet who did amazing miracles and preached powerful messages in the sight of God and everyone around. 20 Our chief priests and authorities handed Him over to be executed—crucified, in fact.
21 We had been hoping that He was the One—you know, the One who would liberate all Israel and bring God’s promises. Anyway, on top of all this, just this morning—the third day after the execution— 22 some women in our group really shocked us. They went to the tomb early this morning, 23 but they didn’t see His body anywhere. Then they came back and told us they did see something—a vision of heavenly messengers—and these messengers said that Jesus was alive. 24 Some people in our group went to the tomb to check it out, and just as the women had said, it was empty. But they didn’t see Jesus.
Jesus:25 Come on, men! Why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along? 26 Didn’t it have to be this way? Didn’t the Anointed One have to experience these sufferings in order to come into His glory?
Luke 24:13-26 (THE VOICE)
Luke’s account finds two followers of Jesus, one only known as Cleopas, walking together on the long (7 mile) road to Emmaus and as they were walking and talking a stranger joins them and asks what they are talking about. Unbeknown to Cleopas and his companion was that the stranger was the risen Christ, so when Christ asks them what they are talking about you can imagine their response of somewhat amazement as they ask if their new friend was “(v18)the only visitor in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about what’s been going on over the last few days.” The death of Jesus was literally the talk of the town and here was a stranger who appears to not even know about it. I love the response from Jesus (verse 19) to their question with “What are you talking about?” or as the NASB version says “What things?” Jesus knew full well what they were talking about but yet he still asked in effect “tell me about it”.
He knew they were full of emotion and mixed feelings and they needed to process all that information, they needed to literally talk it out to make sense of it all. So in saying “What things”, Jesus is allowing them to verbally speak out their feelings to him. Then once they are finished He patiently and gently teaches them (Verse 27) how the death of Christ was prophesy fulfilled. Jesus met them literally on the road of their faith journey and allowed them to verbalize their fears and misgivings and then gently comforted and taught them and explained the context of their current situation.
Isn’t this what He still does for us today?
So many times we as Christians approach prayer and fellowship with Christ as a foregone conclusion. God already knows our hearts and minds so why bother telling him what’s on our minds and what’s weighing our hearts down, or so we think. Yes, God knows what we are going through but he still wants to, in fact loves to, hear it from us. God loves it when we tell him all about our lives and our day and our struggles and fears and then let him gently and patiently show us how our current experience is all part of his loving long-term plan for our lives.
Our Jesus, the same Christ as the road to Emmaus, is in the relationship business. He longs for us to share with not just our spiritual hearts, but our very lives and being. Christ wants us to move beyond just seeing him as the Jesus on the cross or risen from the tomb, but as our “Abba Father” – Romans 8:15 (NIV)
No matter what we are experiencing on our personal road to our own Emmaus, Christ is right their walking with us. We may be like Cleopas and his friend and not recognize him, but be assured he is with us. And in his companionship he does not want us to travel in silence, rather he craves a conversation with us as we tell him everything. As we turn to him like our Father and find comfort and loving advice.
One other note from this passage of Luke, we don’t know much about Cleopas and his companion. Some have suggested that Cleopas was the same person mentioned in John 19:25 and if so then his companion may have been his wife. We don’t know if this is the case or if they were two different people, but this we do know they were followers of Jesus. Two of the many everyday people who believed in, and followed Christ. These were not two of the eleven remaining disciples, they were regular citizens who also were followers of Jesus. This is important for us to remember as we often convince ourselves that we are two “insignificant” or “unimportant” for God to worry about. We tend to think that “God doesn’t care about little old me and my problems”…… we are wrong.
If Jesus took the time to visit with and talk with two believers walking on a road shortly after his resurrection, before he had even visited and made himself known to the core eleven remaning disciples, then he surely cares about you and I and what we are going through everyday. As Peter said in Acts 10:34 “……to God every person is the same.” (New Century Version) If you are struggling to return to the faith, are a new Christian, or are a long time believer we all are equal in access to the mercy and love of Christ. We each are able to freely open a dialogue with Him. He is waiting for us to give him the opportunity to begin that great conversation with Him.
So what do you have to talk about? He is listening.