September 9, 2020 by Bob Whitaker
I like to take road trips because the open road is therapeutic for me. In Luke 24 we read a story of two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus following the crucifixion of Jesus. They were bewildered by the events that led to Jesus’ death and devastated by the fact that the Messiah of God was dead. How could this happen? What were they supposed to do now? We don’t know why they were taking the journey to Emmaus but they could never have predicted what they would encounter on this road trip.
As they journeyed a stranger joined them. He asked what they talking about on the journey. They said, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem that has not heard about the recent events?” The stranger said, “What events?” So, the disciples retold the story to the stranger. Of course, the stranger was Jesus and he began to chide them for not understanding the events. He accused them of “being slow of heart” in believing all that the prophets had said concerning the Messiah. Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets he explained it to them.
I wish I had been on that road trip! By the end of the journey when they were about to eat together, Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, and the disciples’ eyes were opened to realize who had been travelling with them. At that point Jesus disappeared from their sight. The Bible says that they were kept from recognizing him but it does not tell us why – we are left to wonder why they didn’t see him.
One obvious reason is that Jesus himself kept them from seeing him. Perhaps the whole thing was part of his plan so that he could uncover divine history for them. It is also possible that they failed to recognize him because they were overcome with grief. Grief often does that to us. But perhaps they did not recognize him because they were always “slow of heart” to believe. After all, Jesus had routinely predicted his death, burial and resurrection but the disciples had missed it. It is almost as though the Gospels were written as a confession by the disciples to admit how “slow of heart” they were to believe. But what remains curious is how they could have been so close to the source and still missed it. This story is a reminder to us concerning how often we might miss the presence of Jesus. There are many reasons for this. Like them we have our own traditions, which can put blinders on our sight. Sometimes we are blinded by self, our sins or our personal expectations. We all need a grace awakening from time to time. Grace awakenings come in different ways and different stages of life but it is inevitable that for Christ-followers they will come. Be open to the grace awakenings today – watch and listen for Jesus. He might actually surprise you on the road trip of life.