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Never the Same, Part Two

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.” — Luke 24:13-16

I love the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, as Jesus walks beside them and talks to them in the days after His resurrection but before His ascension. His presence was so real, but at first they did not know who He was. Jesus asks them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17) They answer with downcast looks, questioning how anyone could have missed knowing about the events in Jerusalem. They explain to the “unknown stranger” walking beside them that they know of Jesus by His reputation: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19b) They continue to relate to their walking companion of their expectation of Jesus: “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21a) And finally they express their frustration over the news that it had been three days and His tomb was empty but He was missing.

Is this how we relate to Jesus? We know of His reputation, but He isn’t what we expected, and we become frustrated when He doesn’t “do” what we want.

Jesus seeks the companionship of the two men on the road to Emmaus, just as He seeks ours. And what happens next? He challenges their scholarship, at the point of scripture. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) They wanted a Messiah, and Jesus reaches into their knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament to prove that He is the One. They hear from Christ Himself that He had to suffer and die before entering His glory—something that they did not as yet grasp.

But the story doesn’t end there, because as yet there is no understanding on their part of who Jesus really is—no relationship. They invite Him to sit down and dine together. Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, and then breaks it before He gives it to them. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:30) In spending time with Him, hearing truth from Him as He taught from scripture, and being given the broken bread—they recognize Him. They admit to having their hearts burn within them during this experience on the road—and they return to Jerusalem proclaiming “It is true! The Lord has risen. . . . .” (Luke 24:34)

Christianity is not a religion. . . .it is a relationship. Jesus wants to make Himself known—just as He did with these two men in the gospel of Luke. And we can come to know Him by spending time with Him, by studying truth in scripture, and by knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who will open our eyes to the brokenness of His body on the cross in order to give us fullness of life—beginning now and throughout eternity with Him.

In the days following, Jesus ascended to heaven where He now resides at the right hand of God, the Father. The book of Acts continues the story which is, even today, still being written in the hearts and lives of men and women throughout the world. In the first chapters of Acts we read of these early, powerful proclamations:

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” — Acts 4:33

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” — Acts 5:42

Is your heart downcast? Do you not sense the presence of Christ where you are right now? If you are deployed, hopefully you received a camouflaged Bible and can open it to search the scriptures (perhaps beginning with reading the gospel of John), and begin to see that His sacrifice on the cross was for you. Spending time in scriptures, spending time with His people, spending time in worship—that’s how you get to know the Lord.

When a couple begins dating and they want to get to know each other, they spend time together. They talk, they share hopes and dreams, they grow as they experience life together. It’s the same in our relationship with Christ—we spend time with Him in study, in prayer, and in seeing His faithfulness in our life experiences.

Go ahead—begin the journey on the road. . . . . .with Jesus beside you. You will never be the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

Questions to Share:

1. Can you tell of a time when you had an expectation of God, and He delivered even more than you could have hoped or imagined?

2. Can you tell of a time that you felt all alone, and then you sensed God with you?

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