On that same day, two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey.
They were prevented from recognizing him. – Luke 24:13-16 (CEB)
In Abiding, I wrote about the worship Youngest and I shared last week. After our discussion of the Emmaus story, we walked the labyrinth. Youngest said he didn’t completely understand what you were supposed to do in the labyrinth. We talked about how some people pray or maybe reflect on a word or phrase. He said he knew what he wanted to have in mind.
I waited for him to make his way before I started. One of the thoughts that captured me in this story was how Jesus hid himself from these two disciples. The events of the past days had left them downcast and confused. I’ve always felt like they were giving up on the whole Jesus-thing as they left Jerusalem.
What hope could there be?
Maybe Jesus wanted to test them, to see what they really believed. But was this really the right time for a test? Why wouldn’t Jesus just comfort them? What was the purpose of that long walk to Emmaus?
As I walked into the labyrinth, I reflected on why and when Jesus keeps me from recognizing him sometimes. Like these disciples, I already know Jesus. I haven’t ever wanted to just give up on Jesus, but there have been times when I have wondered what hope could there be. There are times when a path I have travelled many times before suddenly becomes uncertain.
These are not the times I wanted to be tested (or feel abandoned) by Jesus.
But sometimes it is only in these times that I can find the hope. In a way, I need to be willing to look for it and recognize how God is working in the world when it seems as though there is very little good to be seen. It is in these times, when Jesus seems to remain hidden, that I go to the Scriptures and my heart finds its fire again. Sometimes Jesus keeps me from recognizing him so that I will push myself to look harder.
When they came to Emmaus, Jesus acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. – Luke 24:28-31 (CEB)
On the way out of the labyrinth, I reflected on how Jesus makes himself known to me. Would it be possible to really see Jesus if he is never hidden (our spiritual fathers and mothers called this the dark night of the soul)? There are times that I wasn’t expecting Jesus but find him all the same. There are things I only see with my worldly, physical eyes – but in a moment of abiding in Jesus, begin to see clearly, with spiritual eyes. Like these Emmaus disciples, I find myself saying, “The Lord really has risen!” Sometimes we have to blind in order to see.
Jesus, I don’t really understand why you sometimes seem to have hidden yourself from me. But you are sovereign and your ways are not my ways. Please lavish your faithfulness on me when I wonder, “What hope could there be?” Thank you that even when I don’t see you, you provide people to walk with me on that road to Emmaus. Forgive me when I allow my sin and stubbornness to blind me to you. Encourage me when blindness is for my own good – until I am ready to see you. Keep my heart seeking you; speak to me in your Word. Although sometimes you may not allow my eyes to see, I will give you thanks for your ultimate promise to abide with you and in you. Amen.