Resurrection day is a day of discovery. For some, they are introduced to Jesus for the first time. For others, they are reintroduced and rediscover the Jesus they perhaps met at an earlier point in their lives. The pursuit of careers and raising a family caused them to become separated from Jesus until they came to a point where they realized Jesus was no longer with them. Still, there are others, who discover new and deeper dimensions about their faith, the faith they first received from their parents and grandparents. Jesus waited for a specific moment, a specific point in time to take them deeper in their faith.
I would submit to you any day, any point in time or place where we encounter Jesus is resurrection day. Resurrection day is not limited to one day a year. The testimony of men, women and children who have discovered and are presently discovering Jesus informs us that any day or time a person comes into the knowledge of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ is Resurrection day. The witness of soldiers who have discovered Jesus on the battlefield, men and women who met Jesus either preparing for an operation, on the operating table or waiting for them in post op remind us that Resurrection day is a day of renewed hope that can come at any time.
In fact, this was the experience of Cleopas and his friend as they were on the road to Emmaus. They were having a crisis of faith. A crisis of faith occurs when we believe with every fiber of our being some thing to be true, and we discover that what we have believed is not the case. The person we thought would never break our heart did. The job we thought we would retire from went out of business or reorganized us out the door. The degree we pursued and thought would position us for success did not pan out. The healthy lifestyle we adopted and believed would be a preventive measure against sickness and disease did not work. All of these and many other situations and circumstances are examples of how the events of life seemingly conspire against us to erode our faith causing us to call into question all that we believe. This is the place where Cleopas and his friend were. Their hope was all but gone. Everything they believed about Jesus was seemingly proved to be not true.
However, as they walked along a road leading to a village called Emmaus, something remarkable happened, Jesus showed up. Jesus has a very peculiar sense of timing. He most often shows up when we are at our lowest point. He meets us at our point of need and/or despair. Why? The reason is simple, when things are going well we have no need for Jesus. If you do not believe me, just listen to the testimony and witness of men, women and children. Specifically, listen for the timing of when Jesus appeared to them. Of all the testimonies and witnesses I have heard over the years, 99.9% of them discovered Jesus when their lives were a mess and their hope was almost gone.
Cleopas and his friend were recounting the events of that day. In addition, to discussing the impact of health care reform, immigration reform, how the Mets and Yankees were going to do in the upcoming baseball season, they were also talking about Jesus. It is interesting that around the same time the conversation shifted to Jesus He came up and started walking with them. I wonder, for people who say they have never experienced the presence of Jesus, I wonder if they have ever tried to talk Jesus up. The old saying is “speak of the devil and he will appear.” I want to suggest changing that to “speak of Jesus and He will appear.” Have you ever noticed how there are times when we think about someone or talk about them with someone else and no sooner then we get their name out of our mouth the phone rings, they come walking down the street or we run into them unexpectedly. The mere mention of someone’s name often times causes him or her to surface. Imagine, if we tried that with Jesus just mention His name. I encourage you to start talking about Jesus and see what happens, see if He appears, see if He comes up beside you and starts walking with you. I encourage us to sandwich in between our discussions on world affairs and personal affairs talking about Jesus and let us see what happens.
In spite of the fact that Jesus was in the midst of Cleopas and his friend, something prevented them from recognizing Him. Literally, something was restraining them from recognizing the identity of Jesus. What could possibly have been hindering and obstructing their vision from recognizing Jesus? Let us play, connect the dots. Verse 17 says, “Their faces were downcast.” Verse 21 says, “We had hoped.” Verse 22&23 say, “They went to the tomb…but did not find His body.” Finally, verse 24, “Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” From these five verses we can see that the two greatest obstacles to recognizing Jesus are a dismissive attitude and relying on hearsay.
Cleopas and his friend dismissed Jesus and the reality of the resurrection not because it was not true, but because they relied on the experience and the word of others. Some times the reason we miss out on things is because instead of investigating and exploring for ourselves we allow the experience and word of others to deter and discourage us.
It is important to note that Cleopas and his friend had a relationship with Jesus (see verse 19), and they knew the Scriptures (see verses 20&21) but they became derailed and sidetracked by what others had to say. As believers, we cannot allow the belief systems of those outside the faith to cause us to be dismissive of the reality of Jesus. We must be on guard so as not to allow the negative experiences of others to become our own. A distinction must be made between how Jesus works and manifests His presence in the life of each believer. No one persons experience is representative of every other person’s experience.
Cleopas and his friend offer us a powerful lesson, for people who have dismissed Jesus Christ and the reality of the resurrection. They have nothing to hang their hat on. Without Jesus Christ we are relegated to putting our trust and faith in all things human. The problem here is that people fail us, systems governed and operated by people fail us, institutions manned by human resources fail us and invariably we fail ourselves. Think about this even the best machines created by the most gifted hands and creative minds wear down and burnout at some point.
However, Jesus does not leave people veering of course, but rather He redirects us and puts us back on the road to discovery. On the road to discovery, we will discover Jesus personally. We will discover the depths and heights of what it means to have faith in Jesus. We will also discover the reality and power of the resurrection.
Jesus took Cleopas and his friend by the hand and led them through a series of steps that would put them on the road to discovery.
The text says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” The first thing Jesus did on the road to discovery was He explained the Scriptures to them. Explanations help us to understand things that without them are incomprehensible. A magician working a crusie ship had a pet parrot who was constantly ruining his act. The bird would say to the audience, “He has the card in his pocket,” or “The card’s up his sleeve,” or “It went through a hole in his top hat.” One day there was a huge explosion and the ship sank. The parrot and the magician, both dazed and bruised, found themselves together on a piece of wreckage. For four days the parrot stared at the magician. Finally, the parrot said, “Okay, I give up. What did you do with the ship?” If I wanted to understand economics, I need an economist to explain the principles of economics to me. If I wanted to understand physics or chemistry I need a physicist or a chemist to explain the principles physics or chemistry to me. Similarly, if I want to know and understand Jesus and what He desires of me then I need someone to explain the Word of God to me. This is one of the reasons why it is critical to be in a Bible believing and Bible teaching church. Jesus helped Cleopas and his friend make sense of what they previously did not understand.
Following Jesus explaining the Scripture to them, the Bible says, “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” The second thing that Jesus did was He fed them. Jesus satisfied a hunger within them that they probably were not aware of. Think about this, Jesus fed them without them having to ask. Jesus used something so simple as bread, flour and water, to feed them. First and foremost, Jesus knows our needs before we ourselves recognize them. Often times the line between our needs and our wants becomes blurry. The cravings and desires that drive us to satisfy them are wants masquerading as needs. When Jesus feeds us, He uses the basics. Jesus feeds us by making sure we have the basics things like a loving family, a roof over our head, resources to meet our responsibilities, reasonably good health and strength, and friends. These are the things that feed and nourish us. These are the things that are necessary for us to feel whole and complete as men and women, as human beings. True satisfaction in life comes from the realization that we have everything we need. We will know that our hunger has been satisfied when we are able to give thanks for what we have, the basics.
After Jesus explained the Scriptures to them and feed them He disappeared. Cleopas and his friend remarked to each other “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us and opened the Scriptures to us.” Before Jesus left them, He made an impression on them. Have you ever noticed there are times when it seems as though what is said leaves an impression on us. It seems as though the words of Christ leap off the page and speak directly to us. They seem to be appropriate for what we are going through. They seem to be relevant to our situation or circumstances. It seems as though God is answering our prayers, providing the guidance or direction we need or have been asking for. For Cleopas and his friend their hearts burned within them as Jesus spoke to them. When Jesus speaks His words leave a mark, they create a stirring in our hearts that beyond a shadow of a doubt confirms the reality of Jesus and the resurrection.
If we look at this through the lens of cause and effect, we see that as Jesus explained the Scriptures to them they became hungry and wanted more. As Jesus fed them and satisfied their hunger their eyes became open and they recognized who Jesus was. As Jesus departed from them, He left them with an indelible mark that caused them to know for sure that the resurrection was real.
Has Jesus made an impression on you? If not perhaps you need to get on the road to discovery. Perhaps you need to be some place where Jesus is being taught and explained. Perhaps you need to be some place where you are fed the basics so that your eyes can be opened and you can recognize for yourself who Jesus is and He can make an eternal impression on you. I invite you to get on the road to discovery today.
April 4, 2010