(Based on Luke 24:13–35 / The Emmaus Road Experience)
They said: “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” This is the story of failed expectations. And this is the road that you and I walk often.
First of all, this is the story of the resurrection experience becoming real to two people. For them, the fact that Jesus was risen was hearsay. They had no idea what it meant. So they were still discussing the death of Jesus; how their expectations had failed. And they were sad.
And you too are sad. The reason is not far to find. Your hopes were crucified and buried. And you are discussing the death of your hopes. Even though the news has come that the flowers are blooming all around; the winter is past and the spring has come, you heart is still in the tomb. But you need to remember that the Christian life is not a discussion of the tomb; but an experience of the resurrection. Yes, He is risen and that mighty power is at work in you. But you are sad because you have not experienced the Risen Lord.
Secondly, it is the story of Jesus Himself walking alongside with sad and disheartened disciples. You may be kept from recognizing Him; possibly because your heart is heavy with sorrow. But He knows what you are discussing. And He comes near and walks along with you because you think about Him. He knows that you with your face downcast are still discussing about the dead end that you’ve reached in life. He knows that you are saying in your heart that you had hoped in Him; and that hope came to nothing. Therefore He is walking alongside you. He asks: “What are you discussing?” And He is listening to you even as you point out to Him the sad facts of your story.
He understands that you know your story well. But you believe only in the first half of the story because you experienced it. You saw your last hope dying. But Jesus walks alongside you to make known to you the next half of the story; where hope springs to life again. He wants to make His experience of the resurrection real to you. At the moment it is just a story to you; soon it will become real because He walks alongside you.
And one last thought as He walks alongside you. You might think that you are someone who is not worthy enough to have Him walk alongside you. Maybe there is some truth in it. But think about Cleopas and the other disciple. Nothing more is known about them. They never belonged to the Twelve. Maybe you may not belong to the inner circle. But still He is willing to walk alongside you.
Think about it: The risen Christ soils His feet again on the dusty road to Emmaus. He will gladly do so again on the road of failed expectations that you are walking today. Yes He walks alongside you in the moment of your deepest disappointment.
Thirdly, this is the story of the risen Jesus celebrating the Scriptures concerning Himself. This is the answer that you might have been missing for years. The moments of failed expectations should not make you neglect the Scriptures. It is yet another opportunity to learn deeply of Christ. Read much of God’s Word when you have lost hope. See Jesus in His suffering (for e.g., Isaiah 53). See again Jesus in His glory (for e.g., Revelation 1:12–18). To these things the Scriptures testify.
Just think for a moment. Jesus could have told them directly that He was Jesus talking with them. But He chose to celebrate the Scriptures concerning Himself. This was the burning effect in their hearts that the disciples felt as He opened the Scriptures to them.
Finally, this is the story of Jesus’ romance with those whose expectations have failed. He walks alongside them. And talks with them. But still He acts “as if He were going farther.” He does not stay unless urged strongly.
He may not reveal Himself fully to you unless you are interested in His company. The resurrection experience will not become a joyful reality if you hear Him talk and still do not invite Him, saying: “Stay with us!” When you do not forget to invite Him to be your guest even in the moments of your sadness; He makes it into one of the memorable evenings of your lifetime.
The setting sun shall then yield to the Glory of the Risen Son in the familiar act of the breaking of bread with thanks. Then you shall recognize Him!