It was the first Easter Sunday. Jesus had been crucified on Friday and his body had been placed in a tomb. But the tomb was found to be empty that Sunday morning. Word about this spread among the followers of Jesus. Two of them were walking toward a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. You can read about this in Luke 24.
As they walked along, these disciples discussed the recent events. Then Jesus himself came along and walked with them, but they were prevented from recognizing him. Jesus asked them what they were talking about. Their faces were downcast. The hopes that they had once had seemed to be gone with the death of their beloved leader, Jesus. They explained to their newfound travelling companion what had happened, and he listened patiently.
Finally, it was Jesus’ turn to speak. Keep in mind that they still did not recognize that it was Jesus. This stranger chastised them for their lack of faith. As they walked along, he explained to them what the Scriptures had foretold about the Messiah.
As they approached Emmaus, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they strongly urged him to stay with them, pointing out that it was nearly dark, a time when travel would be more dangerous. So Jesus stayed and broke bread with them. It was at that moment that their eyes were opened and they recognized that they had been with Jesus all this time. He then disappeared, leaving them to proclaim to each other how their hearts were burning within them as he talked with them on the road and explained the Scriptures to them.
They got up at once and returned to Jerusalem. All of a sudden it didn’t seem too dark to travel. Their hearts were no longer downcast. Their hopes had been revived. They had to hurry to find the other believers in Jerusalem and share their experience. When they got there they found that Simon had also had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
We can learn some important lessons from this event about what happens when people don’t fully comprehend the meaning of the crucified and resurrected Jesus. First, they can find themselves going away from the action—which in this case was in Jerusalem—instead of being where the action is. The action we need to be a part of is the proclamation of the gospel, that salvation is available through faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus.
Second, those who aren’t fully aware of the resurrected Jesus can find that their hearts are downcast and their hopes are diminished. They become overwhelmed by the negative circumstances around them and can’t see the positive future that God has laid out for them.
Third, we tend to lose our focus if we forget about how the Scriptures predicted both the suffering that the Messiah would experience and how God would deliver him from death.
Finally, we see that by pursuing contact with Jesus and desiring a closer fellowship with him, he can open our eyes to the spiritual truths that were right in front of us all along.
So, if you find yourself headed in the wrong direction, or if you are feeling downcast and hopeless, invite the resurrected Jesus to open up the Scriptures to you and make his presence known to you. If you do, you will find that your heart will burn within you once again, and you will have a tremendous desire to be where the action is—with God’s people, declaring the good news of the resurrection!