Daily Devotion – March 17, 2020 – Pastor Erick Thompson
Luke 24 13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
This text from Luke comes right after the resurrection of Jesus, and it involves two of Jesus’ disciples who don’t yet realize that Jesus has been raised from the dead. It begins on the very Sunday that Jesus comes out of the tomb, and the news hasn’t begun to spread. As they begin their journey, they are filled with grief, despair, and anxiety. The Lord that they have followed for years has been killed. They no longer have their leader, and they are now alone to face an uncertain future. The world has gone from a place where there was certainty, predictability, and hope, to a place where they have no idea what the future holds, or how they will get through it. Although the text doesn’t say, I would guess that these two are leaving Jerusalem partly because they are afraid what might happen to them if someone discovers who they are. And, so, when Jesus joins them in the middle of their journey, they are unable to recognize them because their anxiety and their grief is so deep.
And yet, in the middle of verse 15 comes a line that is easy to skip over: “Jesus himself came near and went with them”. In the midst of their anguish, Jesus himself appears, and comes near. Similar to the Christmas story in Luke 2 of the angels appearing to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night, the message of good news comes near to us. As we, as a church and as a nation, begin a journey into uncharted territory, we can imagine how these disciples of Jesus must have felt: alone, afraid, facing an uncertain future with perhaps horrible results. As we begin this journey I encourage you to claim that Jesus himself has come near, because I am certain that God is indeed accompanying us on this journey. Jesus has promised to come near to us, and it is precisely in moments like these when Jesus’ presence is so important. God is with you now. Jesus himself came near and went with them.
That last part is equally important. We not only claim that Jesus has come near, but also that Jesus continues to accompany us on the journey. And, if you read further in Luke 24, you will find that Jesus explains everything to them; opens the scriptures to them so completely that they invite this stranger to join them at their table. In the end, they recognize Jesus and run back in the middle of the night to tell the other disciples in Jerusalem what happened. My hope is that you will not only claim Jesus has come near, but that Christ continues to walk alongside you over the coming days and weeks. As you dive further into scripture and your faith life, the Holy Spirit will teach you and sustain you in your anxiety and uncertainty. Jesus himself has come near and goes with you, always.
Prayer: Dear God, in the midst of things we cannot control or completely understand, help us to see that you are abiding with us, and will be with us always. Keep our hearts open to your Holy Spirit and fill our days and nights with light and peace. Amen.