Daily Update #246

In this familiar and charming story two discipleshave the enormous privilege of having Jesus himself explain the scriptures and break bread with them.But the story doesn’t begin there. They are confused and dejected, walking downcast to Emmaus. They relay the events of the weekend to this traveller who joins them but does not announce himself.

What prompts discussion is the two disciples’ faces. They stood still, ‘looking sad,’ verse 17.

Jesus’ question about what they are discussing prompts the recounting of the events in Jerusalem, the arrest, trial, crucifixion of Jesus Christ. ‘We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.’ The events surrounding the empty tomb seem not to have helped them understand or brought them comfort. The scale of the weekend’s horror and what looked so much like failure have overwhelmed them.
‘We had hoped.’ Those words alone could describe so much of life. Surprisingly this feels like a very everyday story. So often we have expectations that are not realised, we feel lost and lonely. Sometimes events beyond our control and understanding are the cause and, sometimes our own high hopes are a factor. We cannot actually see much beyond what is before us, especially in these days. But we do not navigate life alone. We have a guide ,a reliable shepherd.

Sometimes this is because our expectations of God rather than what he is actually doing. Something has not worked out as we expected, or dare I say wanted. I expect we all have moments like that. Like Cleopas, are unaware of God’s presence with us. It is interesting that Jesus, still ‘disguised’ first admonishes them and then begins with Moses.

First, he admonishes them, because everything that he said would happen has happened. Faith requires us to come under his authority, to trust what he has done, which is not necessarily the same as our expectations. I am sure we all have stories of something that didn’t happen as expected, but that greater fruit resulted.

Second, Jesus teaches them, beginning with Moses ,who taught the people that “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart” (Deuteronomy30:11-14). Jesus is close, even when they do not realise it. These travellers had also forgotten the promises of God, which help us stand firm.

Perhaps it would be good to practice remembering Jesus’ words, ‘Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’ Don’t leave prayer and study until you’re already feeling overwhelmed. He never leaves us or forsakes us, he was forsaken for us so that we could always be near him so that whatever happens cannot shake us.

Prayer of St Richard of Chichester:

Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits thou hast given me,
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly, day by day.