One of those passages I love to read at this time of year is known as the Road to Emmaus, you can find it in Luke’s Gospel chapter 24 vs. 13 – 35. That was my daily reading today.
There are so many ideas that come out of this passage it is incredible but, there comes with it, a familiarity. The saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt”. I think would be better translated as “familiarity causes us to miss”. That is always a danger with well-loved Bible passages, we can miss what God wants to say to us because we think we know it.
So, as I approached Luke 24 this morning, I prayed that God would give me fresh eyes to see something new.
Instead, I felt drawn to verse 21 and felt that God was reminding me of something that I knew but, needed to revisit;
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. (Luke 24 vs. 21 – NRSV)
In just those few short words, the disciples speak of their feelings of being let down; having their hopes dashed. They had hoped that Jesus was the one who was going to set Israel free and rebuild it’s sense of nationhood and national pride. Now their hopes lay in a tomb following the horrific crucifixion. Even if they had truly believed that he could rise from the dead on the third day, other than the wishful thinking of a few of their number, they had no evidence to back this claim up.
Instead of victorious living they had hoped for, they were now running away in fear needing to get as far away as possible from those forces that may track them down and crucify them too.
All of their pain, hurt and anguish is expressed in a few short words
But we had hoped….
As I thought about those words, I began to think back over the times in my own life when my hopes and dreams have been dashed.
It happens to all of us. The relationship that doesn’t work out. The job we worked so hard to get turns out not to be what we thought it would be. The friends we trusted, let us down.
Yes, it even happens to Church leaders. You have hopes and dreams for your ministry, for the congregations you serve, for the communities where you live and then you face opposition, disquiet, complaints and grumbling. As one of my friends once commented “Church would be great if it wasn’t for the people”
I can remember one time (not in my current post – I hasten to add) that I got so worn down by the constant grumbling, it seriously affected my walk with God. When we eventually moved on, I felt a real sense of failure and despondency
But I had hoped…
It wasn’t that Cleopas and the unnamed disciple had placed their hopes in the wrong thing, it was in Jesus after all. What they had done was try to confine Jesus to their way of thinking, of fitting in with their understanding, wants and desires. Jesus view was different.
I love the way, in the story, how Jesus draws alongside and without criticism or condemnation lets them talk. He lets them put voice to their inner feelings. Once they have spoken, He leads them to a great depth of understanding by showing them that there is more going on here.
As you may think that Jesus work is done (and the disciples still haven’t realised that it is Jesus with them),
he walked ahead as if he were going on. (Luke 24 vs. 25)
They urge him to stay and the penny drops as they break bread together.
So I took the opportunity, in the peace and place of prayer to share with Jesus those times when I felt that my hopes and dreams had been dashed. I found, as I told Him, there was no criticism, or condemnation but instead His gentle love and the warmth of His healing touch.
Is it time you had a chat with Jesus?