Then their eyes were opened. – Luke 24:31 NASB
It's just days after the death of Jesus. Two of His followers are slowly making their way from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. As they walk along they discuss the events of the last few days. How did this all happen? Where did it all go wrong? Their Messiah, Jesus, had failed to establish His kingdom. Instead, He had suffered the fate of a common criminal by being hung on a Roman cross until dead. And their hopes had died with HIm. No more kingdom of the Jews. No more overthrow of the Roman oppressors. Their precious Messiah was now just a memory. A phantom of what might have been.
Suddenly, their intense conversation is interrupted by the voice of a stranger. They hadn't noticed him walking along beside them. He asks them what they are talking about. They are a little surprised and put out by this strangers seeming lack of awareness of current events. But they politely bring him up to speed on all that had happened in Jerusalem during the Passover celebration. They revisit the painful events of the last week, pointing out that Jesus, the Nazarene prophet, had been crucified by the Romans, thus ending any hope they had of Him redeeming Israel from their slavery to Rome.
They share one more interesting bit of news. It seems that the body of Jesus had disappeared. The tomb was empty. Some were even claiming that He was alive!
But they were headed home.
I love this story. Here are two followers of Jesus walking along the road with Jesus, but they fail to even recognize that He is there. Their eyes are blind to His presence. They talk about the risen Lord, but fail to see Him. Isn' t that just like you and me? We can get so wrapped up in our circumstances, sadly recounting how things have not turned out quite the way we expected since we started following Jesus, that we fail to see Him walking right beside us. We can accurately tell His story, including His death, burial, and purported resurrection, but be blind to His presence in our lives. Why? Because things are not as we expected they would be. Our version of the kingdom didn't come about. Sure, we hear He is alive, but we don't really believe it. Our eyes are blind to the reality of His presence.
But then God does graciously opens our eyes, just like He did theirs in verse 31 of chapter 24. Something happens that makes us suddenly recognize that what they said was really true - He is alive! He has conquered death! He is exactly who He claimed to be! But what was it that opened their eyes? Why was it that they were unable to see the truth of the Savior's presence in their lives that day? I think it was a lack of vision. They had become near-sighted, unable to see beyond the borders of their own limited little worlds. Like me, they suffered from a severe case of spiritual myopia. Anything beyond their own little world was a blur. All they could see was that their hopes had been dashed, their dreams had failed to materialize, their goals had gone unreached, the desires had bone unmet.
Then Jesus opened up the Scriptures and helped them focus on something beyond themselves - namely Him. "He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Vs 27). Later, at a casual meal in their home, Jesus broke the bread and handed it to them. "Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him" (Vs 30). I am sure these two had heard first-hand accounts from the lips of the disciples of that final Passover meal they had shared with Jesus. They knew about the cup and the bread. And when Jesus broke it that day in their home, it all came into focus. Their perspective changed. They were no longer two myopic, disappointed, self-absorbed individuals. They were hopeful, expectant followers of the risen Lord. He really was alive. They had seen Him. They had experienced Him. So they returned to Jerusalem with "hearts burning" and hopes soaring.
Isn't that how we should live? Yet many of us mope around as if Jesus never had risen from the dead. Sure, we claim He has. We sing about it, talk about it, and say we believe it. Yet we fail to see Him in the everyday affairs of life. Why? Because we can't see the big picture. We are self-absorbed, focused on our own little kingdom agendas. Jesus has failed to deliver what we expected. Our lives have not turned out the way we planned. The future looks dark and out of focus. We fail to see beyond our immediate circumstances.
But He is there. Waiting for us to lift our eyes and see Him for who He really is. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords with His own agenda and His own plans – for this world and for our lives. His kingdom is bigger and better than ours. And He wants us to get a glimpse of it. When we do, we will see clearly for the first time why we are here and what it is that He wants us to do in us and through us.
Father, Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready my God, Thy will to see, open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine! Amen.