We are all pilgrims. This world is not our permanent home. We are fortunate if we can make our journey here in the company of others and in the same geographical location.
Some (more than we would think) must walk this pilgrim-way alone, forsaken, lonely as far as human company goes and unhelped on their journey.
Thank God, they are not forgotten or forsaken by the One who really cares, Jesus.
Consider the story of Jesus and two travelers found in Luke’s Gospel. This journey by two of Jesus’ followers was toward Emmaus. It was a typical journey of that day. In fact, it could represent our journey through life, or from one spiritual goal to another.
All of us walk the way of Emmaus.
The Lord Jesus comes to walk beside us innumerable times and we do not recognize Him. He opens the Scriptures to us and speaks to us and still we do not know Him.
There is a “way of Emmaus” for us all.
Realizing that this experience on the road to Emmaus is typical of many human encounters, we must be careful to recognize the Lord Jesus in life’s encounters. Often the Lord walks with us and we fail to recognize Him.
As we grow in our knowledge of Scripture we begin to see and then our hearts burn within us. We then begin to realize that we have walked in His presence and we did not know it. At that point we wish we had known, known so we could have enjoyed that presence more and taken advantage of those priceless moments. So, we need to begin to see Him working and walking and witnessing through those around us.
This is one of the most thrilling stories in the New Testament. It was the first Sunday on which Jesus was raised from the dead. Two disciples are walking to the little village of Emmaus, having left Jerusalem. The journey was about seven miles. Luke, the beloved physician, who was a competent historian records the incident in detail (Luke 24:13-35). Mark mentions it very briefly (Mark 16:12-13).
An important thing to keep in mind is that this road to Emmaus is away from Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the scene of sorrow and sadness for those who loved Jesus. It was the place associated with the shattering of dreams, the death of a beloved, the defeat of a plan, the end of aspirations and hopes.
It is altogether possible that these disciples were fleeing from that defeat and death. They were leaving the scene of tragedy behind them. At the point of their fleeing Jesus met them. He confronted them on their road away from defeat and transformed that into triumph.
The two disciples were walking along when “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” He came to be with them. Let us remember that the Lord is with us—in defeat, fleeing in disarray or continuing in battle. Jesus is with his people. Jesus walks with us. He wants to lead us in triumph and trial. He will if we will but recognize Him.
But these disciples did not recognize the living Lord. They spoke to Him of the terrible events of the crucifixion, and the confidence they had had in Jesus. They had “trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel.” Their report included the fact that the women that very day had found His tomb empty. Some of the men had, also, confirmed that fact.
It was almost as if they were saying, “We just cannot take any more of this excitement and mystery. We’ve had enough!”
Jesus then took these two men to the Old Testament Scriptures that had prophesied that this would be the way the Messiah would be treated. Their hearts burned within them.
Then as they sat eating in the village their eyes were opened and they recognized who it was that had walked with them and now sat with them.
He was Jesus Christ, the crucified, buried, resurrected and now living Lord of Glory.
We must realize, also, that Christianity is not a “lone ranger” religion. It is an experience of togetherness. In Christ we are not only reconciled to God. We are, also, reconciled to each other because of God’s action in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17-21). We are together on the way. We are not isolated or alone. God commands us to be together. This is the reason for the Church.
We walk the “way of Emmaus” with others. More significantly we must realize three things about this walk.
First, consider that we are together on the way. If we are alone it is because we do not open ourselves to those around us, or realize the Lord’s presence with us. In this we maybe like the Elder Brother in the Prodigal Son story when he said, “I will not go in.”
We just simply need to realize that we are together in this life and that we are on the way—growing, maturing in life’s togetherness. Jesus is with us.
Second, we communicate on the way. Jesus and the disciples are talking. We do not pass through life without communicating with others.
We need to ask ourselves the question Jesus asked, “What manner of communications are those that you have one to another, as you walk, and are sad?”
What are we communicating to each other?
The whole thrust of this question is they did not realize what they were saying in word and deed. The whole of what they said was a mixture of faith and doubt, truth and falsehood, understanding and misunderstanding, knowledge and ignorance.
What are we communicating?
As you walk through life, as you touch people’s lives, what are you saying? What are they saying to you? Do you communicate faith, hope and love? Is what you say uplifting, helpful, depressing or defeatist?
Third, realize that Jesus is with us in the way. Jesus was with these disciples and they didn’t even realize it. Jesus said, “Go … and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Those are precious words – “I am with you.” The way stretches to the far reaches of this earth, to lonely and isolated corners of our world, and through the busy, teeming, multitude-burdened metropolises. In the way, wherever it goes, Jesus is with us. We do not walk alone. Often we do not recognize Him, but He is there. He is with us. He promised and He has never broken a promise yet.
Consider “Walking Together” as part of our community conversation.