Emotionally drained and perplexed, they started the 7-mile trek home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Two men, equally dismayed by the events of the past few days, rehearsed the details, wrestling it out together. Making no sense of it only heightened their frustration and their discussion turned to arguing. Absorbed in their intense conversation, they were unaware of a third man who walked up next to them.
He interrupted to ask what they were talking about so passionately. They were shocked to imagine that anyone could have been in that region and NOT known what was going on! The events in the city had turned their world upside down. How could anyone be so unaware?! Despite their surprise, they explained that JESUS of Nazareth had been handed over by their own chief priests and crucified!
They were devastated because they had hoped that He would redeem Israel. But now He was dead. And then some women from their group went to His tomb and found it empty! When they reported their discovery, several of the men went also and confirmed that His body was not there. They just couldn’t put the pieces of this unbelievable weekend together. They thought they had seen the hand of God begin to move and work in wondrous ways, but now they just didn’t get it. They couldn’t make sense of His plans or purposes.
They just didn’t see it.
The third man just shook his head. He sadly said, “Don’t you see? Don’t you remember all that the prophets have spoken?” As they journeyed along that dusty road together, this man explained God’s plans and purposes from the beginning. He walked them through the prophesies about Israel’s Messiah (in truth, the Savior of the world!), explaining how all of these perplexing and frightening events were exactly according to plan!
Before they knew it, seven miles were behind them and they were home! Their companion motioned as if he would travel further, but they urged him to stay with them. It was late and he must be tired… and they really wanted to hear more!! As they rested inside and prepared an evening meal, their guest became their host, breaking the bread and offering a blessing. In that moment, their eyes were opened and they knew that this Man was JESUS! And then in a blink of an eye, He vanished.
They couldn’t believe it! How could they not know it was JESUS, their Savior, their Messiah, walking beside them, opening God’s Word to them!? Weren’t their hearts “burning within them,” “ablaze” and thrilled to hear Him make the prophesies clear to them? How did they not recognize His voice? He was in their home, speaking to them face to face – how did they not recognize Him?
They just didn’t see Him.
Scripture tells us that their eyes were blinded so they would not recognize the Savior. I wonder why? Maybe if they had known Him right away, they would have been too overjoyed to slow down and listen to God’s Word being opened and explained. Emotion may have swept them away, causing them to miss the priceless opportunity to grasp truth – truth explained by the Lord Himself!
But I have to wonder, too… did they not see God’s plan AND did they not see the Savior because neither appeared the way they expected? Their idea of redemption simply didn’t look the way they thought it would! They tried to wrestle out the details, but would they, on their own, have gone back to God’s Word to sort it out? Did they follow Jesus’ teaching and example and pray, asking God to help them understand? Did they allow their minds to drift back to other experiences with Jesus that may have shed some light?
Similar questions and similar lessons had come the night the disciples were alone in a boat on a stormy sea. Jesus instructed them to go on without Him, right into the path of a storm. He knowingly sent them there. And when He came to them, walking on the waves, they froze in fear, believing He was a ghost! Even then, they didn’t see that He was allowing them to face their own limitations, to face a storm they couldn’t control. In that place, they needed to discover new things about Who He really is! They needed to know that in the middle of the storm He would be there… and He would always be in control. They didn’t recognize Him or His rescue because it was coming in a way they never expected.
Would the terrifying events of the past days have been less terrifying if they stopped to think that He might have been preparing them that night in the boat. Could He have been trying to help them see that the one thing that terrified them the most was actually their Savior coming to rescue them?
What He explained to them on that road to Emmaus was that all of those terrifying events happened just as the prophets said they would, because that was exactly how their Savior was redeeming Israel! He knowingly led all of them into the storm of that weekend, knowingly walked obediently through it all, so He could rescue them! It was the only way they could truly know Him, be eternally saved by Him, be reconciled to God and granted access to the Father and to eternity with Him.
The cross was their only salvation.
Their joy may have been delayed, just as Jesus said it would be. “The world will rejoice, but you will mourn. But your mourning will be turned to joy when you see Me again.” ~ John 16:20, 22. But with new clarity and a burst of joyous energy, they left home in the dark of night and quickly covered the seven miles back to Jerusalem. They couldn’t keep all of this to themselves! They rushed back to the rest of the disciples to tell them, “We have seen the Lord!”
Still breathless from relaying all that had happened in the past few hours, suddenly, JESUS Himself stood among them! “Peace to you!” He said. And just like He had comforted them that night on the stormy sea, again He said, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Again He explained that everything written would be fulfilled. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And He challenged them, “now you are witnesses of these things – go into all the world and proclaim the good news!”
From that point on, the same disciples who had been hidden away behind locked doors in fear became bold witnesses for Jesus! They shifted their eyes from the frightening storm of circumstances around them to see only Him! Just like on the mount of transfiguration, “they lifted their eyes and saw no one, only JESUS. … when they looked around they no longer saw anyone with them, they saw only JESUS.” ~ Matthew 17:8, Mark 9:8
Seeing Him helps us to see the Father and to see the eternal plans and purposes of God. Seeing only Him helps us to look beyond any distractions or overwhelming circumstances and keep our eyes fixed on the only One that matters.
What is preventing me today from really seeing and knowing the Lord Jesus and God’s true plans moving and working all around me? What distracts me? What overwhelms me? What engulfs me in fear because I have forgotten all the things He has already told me, taught me, and revealed to me about Who He really is? What prior experiences might He be using to prepare me for a new challenge? Do I remember to look back to the only reliable source, His Word, to help me sort it out? Do I reach out in prayer to ask for His help to understand?
“Lord, open my eyes that I may see wondrous things in your Word. ~ Open the eyes of my heart, that it may be flooded with light that I may understand the confident hope You have given me!” ~ Psalm 119:18 & Ephesians 1:18
I pray that He will remove any blind spots.
I pray that He will help me to understand.
I pray that He will help me to see HIM, to notice HIM, to recognize His voice and to see His powerful hand sovereignly in control of it all.
I pray that He will give me boldness, like His disciples, to share His good news of salvation with others!
“If now, with eyes defiled and dim, we see the signs but see not Him
Oh, may His love the scales displace, and bid us see Him face to face!”
– Charles H. Spurgeon, 1866 –
Read more here! – Luke 24 – Matthew 14:22-33 – Matthew 17:1-8
“May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
SEEING ONLY HIM.”
– Kate B. Wilkinson –