A few days after Jesus died on the cross, what do you think was going on in the hearts and minds of his disciples? How do you think they felt?
Were they giddy because they remembered Jesus saying that he was going to rise from the dead in three days? So much so that they couldn’t sleep because they were bursting with anticipation for what was to come? After all, through his death and resurrection, Jesus was going to defeat sin and death to provide a way for all to experience eternal life through him.
Or were they in utter shock? Wondering how Jesus could actually be gone, when all they could remember was the meal they had the other day. Or maybe it was denial? And they were just hoping it was a really bad dream that they would soon wake up from?
Or perhaps the disciples were so full of guilt and grief that they couldn’t even get out of bed. If they had only known that this was going to be Jesus’ last day on earth, they wouldn’t have abandoned him the way that they did.
Or it might’ve just been plain anger—anger for the religious leaders and the governmental authorities that took Jesus away from them.
While I’m sure each of Jesus’ disciples were trying to figure things out for themselves, two in particular decided to go for a walk to verbally process what had happened. And as they were discussing and arguing with one another, Jesus came near and joined them on their walk, but they had no idea it was him. You can read the full story in Luke 24:13-35.
Isn’t it interesting how God works?
Even though Jesus—the very one they were talking about and grieving over—was right in front of their eyes, God prevented them from seeing him. “And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. But they were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:15-16 CSB).
Have you ever wondered why? I mean, it’s not like God is sadistic and would play some kind of practical joke on these disciples! In the Scriptures, we read time and time again how God is good! “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34 CSB).
In fact, a little bit later on in the walk, he opens their eyes and allows them to recognize him! “It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?”” (Luke 24:30-32 CSB).
I wonder if Jesus did this so that he could help his disciples understand and process—from the Scriptures—that Jesus was not some failed revolutionary or a mere prophet, but the Messiah, the Christ, and God Himself. If they had recognized Jesus, I’m not sure they would’ve retained or even wanted to hear Jesus explain how he was the Messiah that all the prophecies in the Old Testament were pointing to. Rather, they probably would’ve just been enamored by signs and miracles, without having anything to root their experience in.
Have you ever missed God in the everyday?
Like these two disciples in this story, have you ever questioned where God was, when in fact, he was right there all along? When you read in the Scriptures that God will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5), do you believe it?
Have you ever questioned where God was, when in fact, he was right there all along?
Friends, no matter how dire your circumstances might be, don’t lose hope. No matter how lonely you might feel, don’t lose hope. No matter how much grief you might be sitting in, don’t lose hope. Like the Psalmist, let’s place our hope in God because he will answer us (Psalm 38:15). He is our hope, he is our confidence, he is our strong rock, he is our refuge, he is our shelter and our shield.
So this Easter, I pray that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 CSB).