Thursday, April 16, 2009

HE MEETS US ON THE ROAD

Unrecognized, Jesus often meets us on our road of confusion and anxiety

DON'T RUSH. I am in a hurry to get to the points in the Emmaus Road story that I want to make--the points about hospitality--so I can engage in an urgent plea for a recovery of the simple but profound practices of hospitality today. But I should not rush past what there is to note and learn in the fullness of this multi-dimensional story of Luke 24:13-35.

TALKING IT OVER. As I slow down and look back at beginning of this story, I see two anxious disciples of Jesus on a seven-mile road that connects the city of Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. It's later in the same day that the disciples had received word that Jesus was no longer in the tomb and alive. The two are excitedly talking about all that had happened--the tragic events of the weekend and now this: Jesus was reportedly alive again.

WHAT DID IT MEAN? Hard to believe and harder to digest, the news must have been both exciting and troubling to these disciples. It took them by surprise. What could it mean? It had disconcerting political ramifications both for the Jewish community leaders and Roman governmental authorities. How could the disciples be sure Jesus was alive? And, if indeed he was alive, what might happen next?

FOCUSED INWARD. As they are discussing it all, Jesus came up and walked along with them, but they are kept from recognizing him. Two questions: Why did Jesus come up to them? And, why did they not recognize him or why were they kept from recognizing him? In response to the second question, I postulate that the two disciples are so overwhelmed with the news and so internally focused on their concerns that they are oblivious to almost everything else. I've been in such a state of mind and spirit at times. And Jesus would be the last person they would expect to come up and walk alongside them.

HE MEETS US IN OUR QUESTIONING. Why did Jesus come up to them? In terms of motivation and purpose, I can't answer that question directly. But here's what intrigues me: Jesus DID come up to two very troubled and concerned people that he loved and had invested in. And when he came up to them, he helped them understand, offered them insight, and connected the past, present, and future events in a fulfilling manner. Jesus meets them in their sincere questioning and in that I find a lot of encouragement for my own journey.

WHO ELSE IS LIKE THIS? Jesus meets us on our road of questioning. He is with us in our bewilderment. He finds us in our confusion. He meets us in our searching. And wherever, whenever that is, Jesus offers his counsel--even when we don't recognize it is his presence, his voice. Does anyone know of anyone else like that? Has anyone found such an anticipatory and caring guide in life? There is none like him.


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