Sometimes, we as human beings, with our limited understanding, can be very good at missing the point. We misunderstand the things that are happening around us, especially the spiritual things that are happening. We go about our daily lives thinking that we understand, even making decisions that we think are right, when all along we have been foolish, not taking the time to truly open our eyes and understand what is happening all around us in the context of what God is doing.
I think that is what is happening to the two disciples who are headed to Emmaus on the third day after Jesus was crucified on the cross. Let’s recount how we arrived at this place:
First, Jesus is crucified on Friday.
Then, on Saturday, the sabbath, they don’t do anything except observe the sabbath, staying home and resting.
On Sunday, several of the women amongst the disciples wake up early and head to the tomb. They have an encounter with angels who tell them that Jesus is not there, but he is alive. Peter and John run to the tomb to see, but they don’t find him, so they are left a bit stupified about what is going on.
And now, knowing all of this, plus knowing that Jesus had told them that he was going to be raised on the third day, these two disciples give up and head out of town to Emmaus. They are frustrated, and it seems that they have given up. In fact, as Jesus joins them on the road, they ask him a very ironic question:
“Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”Luke 24:18
Cleopas, the one who asks the question, knows the specific events that have happened. He knows that Jesus was betrayed by one of their own group. He knows that Jesus was tried by Pilate, found to be innocent, and then sent to his execution anyway. He knows what Jesus had told them would happen and what Jesus had told them to do.
But then they give up. He and his partner decide that it isn’t worth it anymore. They are out of here.
And in truth, I think it would have been fair of Jesus to ask him the same question in return. Maybe he might have said:
Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened in these days?
These two disciples should have known better. Jesus had been explaining to them all along what was happening, and yet they couldn’t understand it. Or maybe we could say that they wouldn’t understand it.
The Jews were expecting a Messiah that would come and restore Israel back to its former glory. To overthrow the empire of Rome and return the nation of Israel back to its former state.
But that isn’t at all what Jesus’s plan was and he calls the disciples foolish for being slow to believe what he has been telling them. So he starts over, and Jesus begins to explain the story to them…again. He starts with Moses, and then works through all of the Prophets, and explains to them that the Messiah was to come to save the people from their sins and to establish a new type of kingdom, the kingdom of God.
Not the kingdom of Israel. The kingdom of God.
The kingdom that God had desired to establish all along.
Jesus opens their minds and gives them insight to help them understand the scriptures, to help them understand what has been happening around them and to them all along.
How often do we do the same? Not until after something is over do we look back and realize what was truly happening.
There is a saying that says that hindsight is 20/20, meaning that we can see perfectly when we look at something behind us. But when it comes to the things of God, the time is now.
Let us learn from the mistakes of these disciples. Let us stop and read what the scriptures have to say. Only in this way can we begin to understand what is happening around us. Let us not be blinded by the many voices around us, or even the voices in our own minds telling us that we understand what is happening and that we have insight and wisdom from which we can act. Let us instead understand the times in the context of history and the movement of God. He is working and he is finishing his plan. Let us not waste this gift of time that we have been given and instead use it for eternal glory given to God.