The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead can’t be ignored. It changed human history, and it has changed countless lives. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope. Our hope is not in technology. Our hope is not in human solutions. Our hope is certainly not in politicians. And our hope is not in preachers. Our hope is in God.
It has been said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but not one second without hope. Have you lost hope? Has something happened to you recently that has caused you to feel like a rudderless ship without any real hope or purpose in life?
I think some of Jesus’ disciples felt that way. They had lost hope after his crucifixion. In their estimation, Jesus had somehow failed in His mission. They held the view that when the Messiah came, he would establish his kingdom and rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, which in their case meant overthrowing the Roman occupation of Israel.
Though it is true that the Scriptures say the Messiah will come again and rule and reign, they failed to see that the Messiah would first come and suffer and die. So many passages pointed to that. So when Jesus, their friend, their hero, their Messiah and their Lord was suddenly arrested on false charges, beaten and murdered in cold blood before their eyes, it seemed as though something had gone horribly wrong. These disciples were so downhearted, discouraged and hopeless that they decided to get out of town. They left Jerusalem. And as they were on their way to Emmaus, a stranger joined them. As it turned out, it was Christ himself.
It’s interesting to note the people to whom Jesus chose to appear, post-resurrection. He could have appeared before Pilate and said, “Remember me?” He could have appeared before Caesar and said, “You think you are a god? Check this out. Years from now, all they will remember you for is a salad, but I will change human history.” But instead, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. Perhaps it was because she was among the last at the cross and the first one at the tomb. It seems that Jesus went out of his way to reach out to ordinary people, to obscure people, to people who were often forgotten by others.
We also have this interesting detail about that unexpected encounter on the road to Emmaus: “So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (Luke 24:15–16 NKJV). Jesus was traveling incognito, and the Gospel of Mark adds this detail: “He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country” (Mark 16:12, emphasis added). They were walking along, not realizing that Jesus himself was walking with them.
The problem was they were going in the wrong direction. They should have either stayed in Jerusalem with the other disciples or went with them to Galilee, where Jesus told them to go. Instead, they wanted to put as much distance between themselves and the cross as possible.
But instead of giving up on them, Jesus joined them on their journey and asked a question: “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” (verse 17 NLT).
So one of them said, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days” (verse 18).
It would be easy for us to criticize these two, but if we had been in their sandals, we probably would have done the same thing. A lot of times we don’t listen to what God says in the Bible. We worry when we should pray. We panic when we should trust. And we turn away from him when we should cling to him.
So what did Jesus do to restore their hope? He took them to the Scriptures and explained them. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that sermon. I wonder what he told them. I wonder whether he said, “Hey, guys, remember Psalm 22 that says, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ and ‘They pierced My hands and My feet’? That was speaking of the crucifixion.”
Maybe He took them to Isaiah 53. “Hey, remember that passage were Isaiah says, ‘As a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth’? That was talking about Me. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions’ – that was me, you guys. It is all pointing to me. All of those Old Testament symbols – from the Passover lamb to the rock that was broken in the wilderness and water came out – those were symbols of me. It is all a picture of me.”
They still didn’t know it was Jesus, but they knew this much. The guy really knew the Scriptures. They liked him. And they found that as they listened to him, their hearts were being rekindled.
That is where we will find our hope being rekindled as well. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (NKJV).
When you are downhearted, when you are discouraged, the last thing you want to do is run from God. You should run to God. Go to God with your troubles. Go to God with your questions. Go to God with your pain. Go to God with your complaints. The main thing is, go to God. Don’t run from him.
Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, sometimes we don’t realize that God is with us. He is with us all the time. He is with us on the sunny days, and he is with us on the cloudy days. He is with us on the mountaintops, and he is with us in the valleys. He is with us in all that we go through in life.