They were devastated. The men walked in silence as they made their way to Emmaus. Their hearts were breaking and they knew that their lives would never again be the same. Jesus had just been brutally crucified.
One of them broke the silence. He turned to his friend and voiced what had hovered in their thoughts for three days. “We
thought he was the one. ” How crushed they felt as they shared their hearts. Everything – their life, their hopes, their dreams, their goals – hung on this one man. He had let them down.
They were followers of Jesus. They were passionate about and for Him. They watched him with pride as they knew that he would be the one who would save the Israelites from the cruel government that now ruled the land. It was prophesied in the Old Testament about this man who would rescue them. They KNEW, KNEW KNEW that this man – this carpenter from Nazareth was the answer to their hearts cry.
Then one day, it happened. They watched in breathlessness while Jesus – a mass of blood and flesh bowed his head and said, ” Father forgive them.” In shock and utter disbelief they stared at each other. He was supposed to save himself so that he could save others! He had walked around for three years, doing miracles showing signs and wonders through his mere words or gentle touch. He had saved himself before. Why not now? Why didn’t he call fire from heaven? Why didn’t he perform an amazing miracle of coming down off that cross victoriously showing the world that NOTHING could stop him – that he was invincible? He could have done that. He had the power in his grasp. Why then did he choose to die?
It felt as if they had been rejected and abandoned along with their nation. They had been left. And now there was no hope of freedom. There was no hope away from the government that oppressed them. Not only did they feel the rejection, the questions, they were lost in a deep and inconsolable grief and pain. They had lost a friend. No doubt they had followed Jesus everywhere knowing that He was the One. No doubt they had formed a strong love for this carpenter. Jesus had become their life; part of their routine and certainly held their dreams in the palm of His Hands. Until he let their dreams fall – shattered at their feet.
What a crazy mix of emotions were raging in their hearts.
As I was pondering this scene a few days I ago, I started to cry. I thought of all the things in my life or even in the last 5 or 6 years that I had hoped. I had hoped the Church would be thriving by now. I had hoped that my father in law would have been raised from his bed of sickness. I had hoped that my health would not have been so rocky and scary in the last years. I had hoped that our financial situation would be so much better. I wasn’t going to be HERE in this place in my life at 52. It was supposed to be different. If I served and loved God and did all the right things, it was supposed to be so much different than it is. The list goes on and on.
I am sure it does for you too. I let myself feel the grief of those things that have turned out so differently than I had hoped and expected. I let the tears wash my soul with God’s comfort. I let myself feel the pain as so often people push the tears down.
Then I remembered something. The story doesn’t stop there.
A third man approached them. He wondered what they were upset at. They looked at him and their jaw dropped. Everyone knew what happened in Jerusalem three days ago. Where had he been? Everyone knew – the air was filled with a somberness that could be cut with a knife. It was the talk of the town. There was sorrow that literally hung in the air. Who was this man? As they talked, they began to pour out their hearts to this stranger.
“We had hoped that this was the man who would rescue us – would overthrow the kingdom. We had hoped that this was the man who would be the answer to our questions. But he is dead. The dream is dead. The hope is lost – gone.”
As we all know the third man was Jesus himself who had already risen from the dead. Why didn’t they recognize him? I know that his body had changed. But why didn’t they recognize him – somehow, someway? Were they in so much turmoil, were they in so much pain that they did not recognize Jesus walking with them right then?
When they invited him back to their place for the evening and he broke bread with them, that is when their eyes were opened and they knew. Suddenly it clicked!! That’s why they had goose bumps when he was talking about the scriptures of the Bible. That’s why their heart leapt within them as he spoke!! He was Jesus!!!
How much joy they experienced that day when they ran back to the disciples telling them all about the encounter with Jesus.
Here’s an interesting thought though. Jesus still did not overthrow the government the way that all the Jews thought he would; the way that everyone had interpreted the prophecies. He didn’t rescue them like they thought he would. They still lived under the Roman government for hundreds of years.
But he did something better!!! So so so much better!! He gave them eternal life. He gave them a reason to get up in the morning. He gave them access to God Himself – not through our sacrifice, not the through the law, not through all the hard stuff they had to experience before. He gave them access simply by their own voice – their own heart.
We have all lived our “we had hoped.” We have all been there. This life we live sometimes is filled with difficult and painful roads. We are all learning that life does not always turn out as we had hoped and sometimes our dreams simply lay smashed at our feet.
Are you not where you thought life would take you? Are you living some “We had hoped” moments? Does your life not look like you thought it would at this time? Your marriage, your children, your Church, your life?
I don’t know what the answer is to your questions. I don’t know what the answer is to my questions. But this is what I do know. When the two men were so depleted, when they had so much pain they didn’t know where to turn or what to do – Jesus was there all along. He was walking their journey with them. So I know that even if I don’t feel him, see him or hear him, I need only to open my eyes and look around. I know that He is here.
That’s enough for me.