Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)
I found myself on the road to Emmaus again today. I never intended heading that direction. I never do. It just sort of happens. At first, I didn’t recognize it. But it was the same road all right. The same sadness hung heavy over my heart. Stones of doubt, thorns of disappointment, and the suffocating dust of confusion surrounded me. They whispered, Your prayers are impotent, your faith is in vain. Their goal was to choke out my faith because a few prayers I prayed haven’t been answered as I had hoped. The outcome just wasn’t what I expected. You’d think after all these years, I’d be wise to their lies and not fall for measuring my success as a Christian by the outcome of my prayers. But I fell for it . . . and I lost.
“But Lord, I thought You said . . .”
Hadn’t Jesus said that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us? And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we asked of Him (I John 5: 14-15)? Why then, when I pray for healing, are not all healed? Why aren’t all delivered when Jesus once-and-for-all spoiled principalities and powers at the cross and openly triumphed over them (Colossians 2:15)? Clearly the power of His shed blood defeated the power of the enemy. God certainly is able to bring about the change I cry out for, So, what’s the problem? Is unanswered prayer evidence of my lack of faith? I just didn’t get it.
I kicked a small stone with the toe of my shoe and kept trudging along.
That’s when it happened. As the stone tumbled through the dust, I noticed how well-worn the Emmaus Road appeared. A host of footprints had already stamped out this same terra firma beneath my feet. Countless others had traveled it before me. Like the two disciples after Jesus’ strange disappearance from the tomb. They too felt disillusioned and alone. All the miracles they witnessed when Jesus walked among them, all the signs and wonders, the healings and deliverances were shrouded beneath a cloud of confusion and the ache of disappointment. Their promised King had hung on the cross like a slaughtered lamb right before their eyes and then vanished into thin air. Things certainly hadn’t gone the way they expected either. Where was the power of God to save and deliver? Where was the victory? The enemy had obviously won. Jesus’ promises were lost, and their hopes were dashed. In that moment, they measured heaven’s success by the outcome. And that outcome looked bleak. We had much in common.
Yet, in the midst of their torn emotions, Jesus Himself appeared. He walked along beside them. He ate with them and fellowshipped with them. He reminded them that His death and disappearance were not setbacks as they’d presumed. Eternal issues can’t be measured by earthly standards, nor victory limited to the here and now. What appeared to be a tragic defeat at the cross, became the doorway to heaven and the most vivid display of God’s great wisdom and power (I Corinthians. 1:23-24). What seemed a loss, became mankind’s greatest gain for all eternity. Had the princes of this world understood this mystery they would never have crucified Him (I Corinthians. 2:7-8). The disciples’ part was to believe it. God would take care of the rest. As the two men listened to Jesus’ words, their hearts burned with faith once again. They got it. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (I John 5:4-5).
I stopped in my tracks and grinned. The wonderful Presence of Jesus was with me at that moment as well, comforting me with the remembering of their story. I felt strangely lighter. Inspired. My Emmaus Road no longer troubled me. The journey no longer confused me. The temporal setbacks became . . . merely temporary. My victory was in believing. The eternal prize was within reach. I found that my heart connected with faith once again and I got it.