“And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” (Luke 24:15-16)
The two men were thoroughly confused. A week ago they had been part of a growing crowd whose hope was that Jesus of Nazareth was the long awaited Messiah. But that was before the Passover celebrations had begun. Since then everything had taken a horrible turn.
In shock they had listened to the incoming bits and pieces of news until their expectations of victory and kingdom were a heap of dust. The upper room supper, the visit to the Garden, the mob of blood-thirsty men, the nightime arrest and disappearance, the shameful charade between Pilate and the religious leaders, and finally that gory end on the cross. For several days they had stayed in Jerusalem, stunned and groping for answers.
Then on Sunday a ray of hope pierced their dark thoughts as several of the faithful women had reported strange occurrences at the garden tomb. But Peter and John had raced off to check it out, only to return with no sighting of the Lord.
This disappointing report seems to have been the last straw for two of the Lord’s followers. With faces that betrayed their sorrow and crushed dreams, Cleofas and a friend started walking down the road that led to Emmaus.
At some point along the seven mile trip a stranger joined them. They had no idea who He was. They couldn’t have, for this traveler happened to be the very One they were talking about and He had purposely veiled their eyes. But why? One reason was to teach them that their Lord could be very near but be totally invisible to them. This would be especially important in just a few weeks when He left for His Father’s side. For obvious reasons it is also extremely relevant for those of us living in the Church Age.
A couple of interesting events in Scripture come to mind as related to this whole matter of God purposely hiding His person or work. Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6 was distraught because he could not see the Lord’s protecting army, but a simple request from the prophet made reality clear to him. Then in John 20 the Lord deliberately visited His followers when Thomas was gone. After he refused to accept his friends’ witness, Thomas received a mild rebuke from Jesus for not believing what he did not see.
And so, with perfect consistency, Christ gently chided this pair as they walked away from Jerusalem: “O fools, and slow of heart.” The rest of His conversation was taken up with explaining to them what the Word had to say about Himself. And that is always the correct place to go when we are uncertain of His presence. The risen, hidden Lord wants us to develop eyes to see Him in the written Truth. The moment He purposefully drops off the radar and we are tempted to fear . . . is when the Bible can come alive to our seeking, hungry hearts.
Dear Father, when I am tempted to doubt Your presence, help me run to Your Word. There, as I open myself to what You say, Your Son will reveal Himself and calm any restlessness of soul. Amen.