Luke 24:15-16 (KJV) “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”
It is fitting that we look at this Scripture setting in the first week of 2019. We have been gifted with a New Year! Some are actively engaged in performing their New Year’s resolutions, and some have already dismissed theirs as another impractical impossibility! It is certain that 2018 is passed with all its opportunities, obstacles, and oppressions. Many of the open-doors have closed and new doors are being presented because last year’s potentialities became personal realities.
We look today at a Scripture setting that is predominantly presented at the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. However, as stated earlier, it is fitting that we consider this setting at the beginning of this New Year. You see, as the events of last year are passed, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were passed for the two who traveled on the road to Emmaus. Their lives had been shattered by the death of Jesus – so much so, that they were in no spiritual condition to recognize Him as He joined them on their journey! The circumstances of the past prevented them from enjoying Christ in the present!
We have every reason to believe that these two travelers on the Emmaus Road had been with the disciples and witnesses at the Empty Tomb! Nonetheless, these two did NOT believe that Jesus had resurrected any more than Peter and most of the Apostles believed. In the intensity of their sorrow, the “Man of Sorrows” joined them on their journey. I find it interesting that they did not ask Jesus where He came from! We may conclude that there were many others journeying on that road that day; for, they were not alarmed by the appearance of Jesus!
This is the “way” of Jesus. He always “joins” us on our journey when we are in the depths of sorrow and disappointment. He made the promise that he would never leave us nor forsake us, yet like these two, we do not believe it! We know Jesus said it, but when we must exhibit faith that is settled upon that belief, we do not “see” or “recognize” Him when He presents Himself.
I’ve been asked, “Why didn’t they recognize Jesus?” Perhaps the simplest answer is the best, “They were not looking for Jesus!”
Such was the case with Mary Magdalene (John 20:15) when she did not recognize Jesus when He appeared to her near His Empty Tomb. It was the same with the “tired fishermen” when He appeared to them by the lake shore (John 21:1-7). Their labors produced no results, but when Jesus gave the command to cast their nets again, they were successful. It was John who recognized it was Jesus Who was standing on the lake shore.
Note: Luke 24:41-45 presents the “Lake Shore” experience in a most intimate manner. It is interesting that the two on the Road to Emmaus had gone back to Jerusalem to report the appearance of the Resurrected Jesus to the Apostles BEFORE they went “fishing!” They still did NOT recognize Him!
The Scripture tells us that “their eyes were holden” so they “should not know him.” We could take the Scripture literally (and we should at all times when appropriate) and accept that God had prevented them from recognizing Jesus. Or, we could accept that another “spirit” or “circumstance” prevented them from “Looking for Him!”
Were Mary Magdalene and the two travelers on the Road to Emmaus so overwrought with sorrow that they “could not see Jesus?” Were the fisher-disciples so caught-up in their work that that “could not see Jesus?”
Are we so preoccupied with the “world” that we “cannot see Jesus?!” When we consider the Promises of God, and the God of Promise, how is it we find ourselves so often more greatly influenced by the circumstances of life than the Giver of Life? Why is it that we believe that all things are possible with God, but we do not believe that God will do the impossible?
Consider this – Matthew 5:8 (KJV) “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Emphasis Added).
Scripture places a great importance upon purity. While we consider purity and impurity in connection predominately with sexual behavior, have we forgotten that purity is a condition of the “thoughts of our hearts?” When we are overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, our hearts are not poised in anticipation and faith. In this condition, does it prevent us from “seeing God?”
Jesus gave us warning, Luke 21:34 (KJV) “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Emphasis Added).
The two on the Road to Emmaus discovered that it was in “entertaining” Jesus that they were blessed. What would happen if we “entertained” thoughts of Jesus more than thoughts of discouragement, disappointment, and doubt?