Sorrow to Joy: Recognizing the Joy in front of you
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 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. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. ~ Luke 24:13-33
This is one of my favorite stories in the gospels.
These two disciples of Jesus are so broken hearted at losing their teacher that they can't even see him when he's right in front of him.
Jesus had changed their lives. In a harsh world, he had made everything seem possible. It truly felt as if life was new and wonderful.
Until it wasn't. Until he was gone.
And they were left with nothing else to do but go back to the way things were. All their dreams faded to dust.
But then this stranger comes beside them. In their grief they can't see who he truly is. Are we surprised? Would we recognize a loved one we had just lost to death if they walked beside us in our travels?
These two begin to get insight into who Jesus is as he opens the scriptures to them. And finally, they "see" him in the breaking of the bread. They see him as they commune with him in a holy meal.
Grief can keep us from seeing the possibility of joy. We can get stuck and miss the promise of new life in front of us.
A promise that often comes from friendship, from relationship...from love.
- Have you ever felt stuck in your grief?
- When is a time you felt the promise of joy come in the midst of grief?
Holy One, lead me, push me, pull me, prompt me along this journey of faith. Keep my footsteps sure and my eyes fixed on the places you would send me. Amen