As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 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?”
“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. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “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?”
Depending on how Messianic scholars classify the prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus, you will find between 200 and more than 400 statements about the Son of God becoming a man to teach us and be our ultimate sacrifice. Given that information, which was taught throughout the Jewish faith, you have to wonder why anyone at the time of Jesus’ death didn’t understand what was going on. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that He would also be resurrected. Yet disciple after disciple, woman and man, we see either their disbelief or shocking amazement when Jesus stood with them after His death.
But we can’t be too hard on those people of old. I mean we have 1,000s of years of Bible study, the hindsight of the entire New Testament, and more Bible scholars and preachers than we could ever count explaining the connections and the truths of this amazing story. And yet so many of us, even Christians, have a hard time truly accepting that Jesus is with us, even today. He stands in front of us with an open hand almost pleading with us to surrender and follow Him. He stands next to us, holding our hand, as we take scary, daring steps of faith. And He stands watch over us guiding and protecting us. When we fully accept that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we can feel His constant, amazing presence.
I heard a sermon the other day by Joyce Meyer called, “What is Faith?” In it she encourages those whose families are grown and left the nest, who have lost spouses, who feel as though no one loves them, to grasp on to the knowledge that Jesus is ever-present in our lives. He is with us when we go to the grocery store. He is with us when we sit and watch a sunset. He is with us when we lie down, alone, in our beds.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.John 18:22-23
When we read the verses today in Luke 24, we might gloss over the fact that Jesus had already died. What happened on that road to Emmaus could have just as easily been written today. There was nothing special about the two men to which Jesus appeared. They are you and me. We can leave church or a Bible study waxing philosophical about the amazing presence of Jesus “way back when” and completely miss that He is walking right there with us!
I once heard a woman in a Bible study say to the group, “How come God doesn’t talk to us like He did in the Bible?” I found it fascinating that this person has somehow missed the prolific authors who have received urgings and messages from the Holy Spirit. She somehow has ignored all the testimonials she has heard in church from people who have been miraculously saved. She somehow missed my own telling, to that very group, of my Jesus vision.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”John 4:48
Are you ignoring Jesus’ amazing, constant presence? Has he walked along with you, sat at your dinner table and you didn’t acknowledge it was Him? Are you looking for a burning bush outside your door to speak in a Charlton Heston-esque voice to make decisions for you? I’m not saying that won’t happen but Jesus’ character is a lot more quiet and gentle. He wants you to have the “ah ha moment” like the men in our story today. He leads you, tiny step by step to clearing the mud from your eyes and ears. And if you will only accept the burning bush as “proof” of His presence you will surely miss Him along the path.