The Receptive Life

"We are beggars; this is true." (Martin Luther)

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 37

He Knows My Slowness to Believe

Scripture Reading:  Luke 24:13-35

Meditation

Emmaus is a small village only a brisk afternoon’s walk outside of Jerusalem. For two traveling together, the seven miles can be easily bridged by a steady gait spurred on by plenty of spirited conversation. But for a pair of Jesus’ disciples burdened by unbelief, the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus has just stretched into a long walk, journeyed with even longer faces.

It’s the third day after their Master’s crucifixion and, as they walk, they carry heavy hearts. Just a week ago, they had marched with Jesus into Jerusalem. At that time, their steps were as high as their hopes. The crowd shouted “Hosannas” and the two disciples had every reason to believe that their Master was the promised Messiah, the One who would restore the kingdom of Israel.

But as the week progressed, everything turned on a heel.

One from among them had betrayed Jesus. The religious leaders brought Jesus before Pilate, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him.  When he was dead, a respected disciple, a member of the Jewish Ruling Council, asked Pilate for his body and buried him in a new tomb.

Adding confusion to the chaos was the fact that some of the women who had followed Jesus all the way from Galilee had gone to the tomb early in the morning. They saw the stone rolled away from the tomb but they couldn’t find his body. Running back to the Eleven, they shouted a story about seeing angels who had said that Jesus was alive. But when the disciples pushed for proof, none of the women could say that they had actually seen Jesus.

As the two disciples walk the Emmaus road, the weight of their confusion shortens their stride. It slows their gait until the pace of their steps matches the beat of their faith:  slow, plodding, trudging along. With each step, they’re trying to put the pieces of the week together. They’ve heard the resurrection stories but no one has seen the resurrected Savior. Until they have a body they can touch, it’s hard for them to believe that the Master is really alive.

It’s all such a mystery.

In the middle of their conversation, Jesus comes up and walks alongside them. Though he’s an arm’s length away from them, they don’t recognize him. Overhearing the confusion in their conversation, he asks,

“What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”

He said, “What has happened?”1

Cleopas and his traveling partner alternate words as they try to explain all of the things that had happened to their Master during the past week. In staccato fashion, they rattle off a concise summary of the Passion.

“Jesus. A man of God. A prophet. Mighty in work and word. Blessed by heaven and on earth. High hopes that he was the One. The Messiah. Deliverer of Israel. Hopes dashed.  Betrayed by High Priests. Sentenced to death. Crucified. Buried. Third day. Tomb empty. But no body.”

Jesus’ response halts their feet and arrests their hearts,

“So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?”2

The disciples are stunned by his words. Seeing the color run from their faces, Jesus fires their hearts with the spark of the Spirit. Ready to walk again, Jesus takes the lead and blazes the trail by walking them through all of the Christ-Scriptures.

Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.3

With each Scripture that Jesus opens, the disciples’ hearts burn and their steps quicken. Though they are moving, time seems to stand still.

Before they know it, they come to the edge of the village. Jesus acts as if he’s going on further but they press him to stay the night. He agrees and goes in with them. As he sits down at the table, he plays the role of the host. He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them. It’s at that moment that their eyes are opened. But as soon as they recognize him, he disappears.

Excitedly they banter back and forth,

“Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”4

Finally, the two disciples put all of the pieces together. Not wasting a minute, they run the seven miles back to Jerusalem—hearts ablaze, feet on fire. They find the Eleven and all of their friends and animatedly explain,

“It was him all along. Scripture opened—all of it’s about him. The spark of the Spirit. Our hearts on fire. Faith beating fast. The breaking of bread. All of these things had to happen. It’s really true. The Master is alive!”

Reflection

How are you thick-headed and slow-hearted to believe?

When was the last time you felt your heart on fire within you?

In what ways are you struggling to put all of the pieces about Christ together?

What is the central message of Scripture? Using only the Old Testament Scriptures, can you point to Christ?

Prayer

Father,

Like the two disciples walking the Emmaus Road, I am so thick-headed to understand and so slow-hearted to believe all that your Son has done for me. Step after step, I plod along in my spiritual walk. All too many days I am weighed down by doubt and hampered by a heavy heart. Though your Son has promised to walk with me all the days of my life, I am often blind to his presence and deaf to his voice.

During this day, set my heart on fire with the presence of Christ. As I walk throughout this day, open wide my eyes and loose my ears so that I might see and hear Christ along my way. Ignite my faith by the spark of the Spirit. Open the Scriptures and show me that all things point to your Son. After seeing Christ in the Word, set my feet ablaze and quicken my steps with the good news of the Gospel. May my message be that of the Emmaus’ disciples: Jesus is the Christ—the one who was crucified, killed, and risen for the forgiveness of sins.

It’s in his name that I pray. Amen

1Luke 24:17-19     2Luke 24:25-26    3Luke 24:27    4Luke 24:32

All Scripture references in the meditation are marked by italics and are taken from the Gospel reading for the day. Those verses quoted outside of the chosen reading for the day are noted. All Scripture quoted in this post is taken from THE MESSAGE: Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001 & 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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