April 15, 2020 (Wednesday) - Shattered Dreams - A Reflection on Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is a story for all of us because it is a story about all of us. I don’t think there is a single person among us who has not had their dreams shattered, their heart wounded, their hopes broken. I know that I have had my share of them, and like you, I have asked the question: “Why?” We come to a point of helplessness, sometimes hopelessness, and we wonder what was the point of it all. And we wonder: Now what? Where do we go from here? What do we do?

The two men in today’s story were at the point described. They were disciples of Lord Jesus, among the very few who remained with him until the end. They had followed him through the desert, they had heard him preach, they had broken bread with him, they had made him part of their lives. They had listened to the wonderful things he told them about redeeming Israel and they had believed they would have great things to do once he had established his throne. But, now, he was dead. And their hopes and dreams were dead with him. What, now?

And, in the midst of their doubt, Jesus came to them. He doesn’t introduce himself. He wants to teach them a few things. And, since he wants to teach us a few things, I’d like you to really pay attention. I’m not going to draw the conclusions for you because I’d like you to arrive at them yourself, although I will point you in the right direction. I might take an extra paragraph or two today because this is really important.

The first thing our Lord does is ask them what they are discussing. He ignores their remark about his ignorance about what’s going on. He says. “YOU tell me what’s going on.” First lesson here. So, as they make their way to their village, they tell him. “What’s going on,” they say, “is that Jesus of Nazareth, who was mighty in word and deed, was put to death by the chief priests. We thought he was going to redeem Israel but he went and died instead. And to make things worse, now his body had disappeared from his tomb.”

Arrrgh! I don’t know how we don’t get the obvious. Fact 1: Jesus is a worker of great signs and wonders; which means he is from God. Fact 2: He tells his disciples he is going to die; but he also tells them that he will rise again on the third day. He then dies. Fact 3: On the third day his body is gone, so what is the inference? Duh! But they don’t get it! “How foolish you are,” Jesus tells them. And truly they are foolish! Second lesson for us here.

So, through Scripture, our Lord explains who the Messiah is, STILL not telling them that he is the one. They need to come to the right conclusions on their own, but in order to do that they need to have all the facts. All all the facts are contained in Scripture! Third lesson here.

Then they arrive at the village and Jesus makes as if to move on, but then insist he stays with them and eat with them. Fourth lesson here, and allow me to give you a little clue with this one. Jesus says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20). And as he takes the bread, blesses it, and breaks it, they recognize him. Fifth lesson here.

So, where do we go from here? What do we do? Learn all the lessons that are to be learned from today’s teaching and you will know.