After Jesus death, the disciples were consumed with questions: Why did Jesus have to die? What will happen to them now? Would they too be arrested, tried and executed? Somehow, the disciples needed reassurance and the only one who could successfully do that was Jesus. Two of the disciples had an encounter with Christ that “cut them to the soul.”
“Two followers were walking to the village of Emmaus. They were talking about everything that happened. As they talked, Jesus began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:13-16) The disciples expressed their fears and confusion over what happened, starting with the arrest followed by the crucifixion and then the rumors of an empty tomb.
Jesus answered: “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (24:25-27)
Jesus’ birth, his life and even his death and resurrection was predicted and written about in Scripture, hundreds of years before it happened. Later that day, “As they sat down to eat, Jesus took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” (24:30-31)
Something happened on the road to Emmaus to those two disciples. They encountered Jesus. Something happened to change my world. Looking back, four signs pointed the way.
- There was a felt need for something better. Something was not right with my life as it was. I looked and acted fine but looks can often be deceiving. I wasn’t fine.
- There was a positive example to notice. People I respected were showing God’s love to me in ways that caught my attention.
- There is often a turning-point where God becomes a more vital part of your life. For me it was a significant experience but for others it can be a gradual strengthening of their relationship with God.
- There is a lot of continuing encouragement and love. I was continually encouraged by my church and the people around me. This is true even today.
Something happened to those two disciples. Something happened to me and something happened and is still happening to so many others.
One person wrote: “When you think: ‘What’s the use?’ When you are in the valley, disappointed and discouraged. God cares and understands. He wants to give you miracles, unlimited. So, don’t give up. Look up. I’ve been there. God opened the windows of heaven for me through my church and He will for you.”
An email: “I walked into a church to see a play my youngest son was in. I had not set foot inside for years. I had given up on Christianity altogether. Something melted inside my heart. I felt an aching sense that I was missing something which could fill the spiritual hole inside me. The pull of that service kept tugging on me and I kept going back. The church has been responsible for nurturing my spiritual growth, through Bible studies, workshops, prayer. Why is the church important to me? Without it, I would still be lost.”
Walk the road with Jesus and you too will be “cut to the soul.” So, how do you respond? Do you “file it away” and forget? Do you quit? Give up? Or do you allow the experience to become a catalyst toward needed change?
After the Disciples encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they rushed back to tell the others. Jesus then appeared to all of the disciples and said: “this message will be proclaimed in the authority of My name to all the nations: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things and now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised.” Luke 24:47-49
The disciples were transformed forever by the appearance of Jesus. Their experience combined with the promised Holy Spirit became the catalyst for change. With renewed courage: They spoke with faith; made sacrifices when necessary and acted with deep conviction. The Disciples who followed Jesus would never be the same. How will you respond to the risen Christ?