It’s early Sunday morning, and two followers of Jesus of Nazareth are walking down the familiar road to Emmaus. They were discussing “everything that had happened,” undoubtedly involving the tragic death of the man they had placed their hope and trust in to deliver them and their people.
A man walks up on them and asks them what they were talking about. This man, of course, is the resurrected Jesus; but they don’t know that. “We’re talking about Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet…”
Hold the phone. A prophet? What about Messiah? What about the Christ? Clearly it hadn’t taken long for them to re-catalogue Jesus as one like the prophets of old. A significant man, of course, but now that he’s dead, he’s no longer worthy of the title “Messiah.”
You see, messiahs don’t get executed. They don’t lose. Messiahs win. And getting crucified isn’t just losing. It’s losing in the most shameful, despicable way. In a culture that operated largely on paradigms of shame and honor (much unlike ours today), crucifixion was the worst. It was rubbing your face in the dirt as they killed you. And once they killed you, it didn’t end. They put you on display so they could rub your family’s, friend’s, and follower’s faces in the dirt too. Crucifixion wasn’t just physical torture. It was emotional and psychological torture as well.
I am constantly amazed at how God continually shatters our paradigms of what greatness is.
The two followers of Jesus continued to talk with him as they strolled down the road. As they did, Jesus talked Bible with them. They still didn’t know it was him, but they listened intently as he taught them how their scriptures did indeed paint a different picture of the Messiah. The Christ must suffer – and it was there all along.
Once they finally sat down and broke bread together, their eyes were opened to who he was. Imagine the shock that must have overtaken them. And Jesus, far from sticking around to bask in his own glory, left them to wonder what in the world just happened. Hey Cleopas, you didn’t see that one coming, did you?!
I love their remarks to each other after Jesus disappears into thin air: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us…?”
This is the experience now of every Christian who walks this road of life. Jesus is here, always, whether you realize it or not. He is part of our struggles, sorrows, conversations, and joys. He is alive.
It’s easter Sunday. And I think that every Christ follower whose heart does not burn today in the presence of the risen Christ better make sure that their pilot light didn’t go out.
He is risen!