After Jesus was crucified, His followers were at a complete loss. They were sheep without a shepherd, and they didn’t know what to do.
Two of them left Jerusalem for Emmaus, for what reason we do not know. Here’s what we do know.
(Luke 24:13-32) Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, “and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. “Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. “When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. “And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
On their way, Jesus came alongside to enter their conversation. But when they were going in the house He waited to be invited in. Does something about that sound familiar? Personal, perhaps?
Jesus will continually look for ways to encounter us in daily life. He’s eager to participate in a conversation with us.
But it’s the exception rather than the rule for Him to enter our most private spaces uninvited. Few have an experience like the Apostle Paul’s road to Damascus encounter in which Jesus comes revealing Himself in such bold, powerful ways. For most of us, He is more likely to wait for us to open the door, for us to invite Him in to our hearts to take lordship. It’s up to us to invite Him in.
And isn’t it interesting that these apostles walked with Jesus for a good distance that day, talking about the crucifixion and listening to Him explain how it was a fulfillment of prophecy. And yet they didn’t quite recognize Him. There was something reassuring about His explanations, something soothing, peaceful and hope-inspiring. And yet it didn’t occur to them that this familiar wisdom and grasp of Scripture could only mean one thing: It was Jesus Himself. Only afterward were they able to palm slap their forwards and say, “Of course! Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He was speaking?”
It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who sometimes miss God in the moment but then recognize Him after the fact. And it’s good to know that He has a habit of showing up when we need Him, even if we don’t recognize it at the time.