One thing that constantly shocks me is the overwhelming number of times in these Biblical accounts that people are with Jesus, but don’t see Jesus; hear Jesus, but don’t understand Jesus; spend time with Jesus, but don’t know Jesus.
Two of Jesus’ followers are walking along the road. Sad, confused, lost. They are talking together – mourning, processing, rehashing. All. The. Things.
A man joins them. It is Jesus, but they don’t recognize Him. It’s the person they previously followed and are now in deep discussion about. Why don’t they see Him? Why don’t they know Him? We are told their eyes are kept from recognizing Him. How does this happen?
Jesus asks about their conversation, noting their sad countenance. He must have fought hard the urge to laugh as they asked Him if He was the only one in Jerusalem who did not know what had happened these last few days.
Oh, He knew.
Jesus probes further…pulling their hearts and thoughts into words. He knows what we are feeling and thinking. He wants us to speak it to Him.
Here is what they know: this person was named Jesus, He was a prophet, He was mighty in deed and word, He promised to redeem Israel, He was delivered by the chief priests, He was brutally crucified, and He has been gone going on three days now.
Here is what they heard: some women among their group of followers said the tomb was empty and an angel said Jesus was alive.
Here is what they hope: Jesus is who He promised, and He is alive as the angel has said.
It is a doubtful hope. They are sad and disappointed. Jesus diagnoses their core problem: they believed in their head, but not in their heart.
Jesus starts to continue further, but the men insist He stay and eat with them. They don’t know who He is, but there is something about Him they can’t quite put their finger on. They want to remain in His presence; they want Him to stay.
Jesus never pushes Himself on anyone but is always willing to come when invited.
Settled in to eat, their guest – the stranger that met them on the road – breaks bread. I wonder if their eyes grow wide as they see His nail scared hands in full view. He says a familiar blessing. Their eyes are opened! In the simple breaking of bread and thanksgiving.
They see! It is Jesus. And He vanishes…
Their hearts are likely pounding out of their chest as they check under every surface and behind every door. Where has He gone? I imagine them talking over each other sharing how their hearts burned as He spoke Scriptures to them. Jinx.
Onward to tell the others. This good news must be shared!
While still breathlessly talking one hundred miles an hour with the other followers they ultimately reunite with, Jesus Himself appears among them.
“Peace to you!” He says. The room could use a little peace to break through the fear, anxiety, anger, and uncertainty heavily looming over the room. They are startled and frightened; troubled and full of doubt.
He wants them to be certain of His presence. To examine His body. His hands and feet. He eats with them. He reminds them of the promises and prophesies in Scripture fulfilled in Him. Nothing they haven’t heard before, but suddenly rich with life and light.
“You are witnesses of these things,” He tells them. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high,” He continues.
He walks with them…
…leading them to the outskirts of Jerusalem, as far as Bethany.
The hands that three days earlier were raised, secured by nails to a cross, are now raised high in praise. The raised hands of suffering now raised hands of blessing and victory. There was a price paid for this blessing. The most expensive free gift we will receive.
With their own eyes, they see Him carried up to heaven. And it is transformational...
No longer hiding in fear and self-pity they worship and return to Jerusalem with great joy. They continually go to the temple – the headquarters of the persecutors of Jesus – and bless God.
God, open our hearts and minds. We don’t want to believe in our head while doubting in our heart. We want to SEE You; to KNOW You. Move us from what we know and what we have heard and what we hope to a CONVICTION and ASSURANCE that makes us bold and brave to worship You and make You known.
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