Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
The story of two followers of the crucified Jesus walking disconsolately home to Emmaus has inspired artists, hymn writers and others because Someone joined them and changed their despair to hope.
Only Luke records this story, and his artistry with words captures our imagination. But there is something much more compelling about this story which evokes an awareness that it was not an isolated happening. Through the years, many others have discovered the living Christ travelling their human road.
Distressed People Need Support
Every day, people unexpectedly confronted with a distressing life situation, need someone to come alongside, supportively. If they are to work through their pain and find healing, they are best helped by someone who, like Jesus, is sensitive to what they are feeling, and warm and practical in their caring. It is not a time to ask why, or offer advice or even evangelise. At such times, people are best helped by knowing they are not alone, and that in Jesus, God is with them.
When Jesus came alongside the two disciples and encouraged them to share their pain, he understood their emotional turmoil. Just days earlier, in the Garden of Gethsemane and on a Roman cross, Jesus, in his humanity, had shared with God his inner feelings and reaffirmed his trust in the Father. Now two dispirited disciples needed a deeper understanding of the loving reality of God, and in a warm, kindly fashion, Jesus helped them look at things differently so that by reframing their situation they would learn where God was in it.
Jesus had done this so often in his ministry. John (4:1-42) records how Jesus helped a Samaritan woman see things from a new perspective. He always accepted and showed respect for the other person, which is why, in Jericho, he was able to help the despised Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) find hope and a new life.
Jesus Was Always Compassionate
Jesus always treated people compassionately. He realised how painful it must be for the man born blind (John 9) to know that people saw this as judgement for his parents’ sin. Rejecting this fallacious reasoning, Jesus healed the man, saying God, who loves everyone, should be praised. Jesus always encouraged people to hope and keep trusting in God. He did this with Jarius (Mark 5) when others said it was a waste of time.
Jesus was aware what his distinctive teaching about God meant to ordinary people, as when a woman entered the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7) and, weeping, bathes the feet of Jesus. He knew it was because she had somehow realised that in God, as Jesus portrayed him, there was forgiveness and hope for her.
Jesus communicates his understanding of God’s caring love for humanity in his teaching and in every encounter with people. John, writing reflectively said, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 (NKJV). We need both truth and grace: the truth about God, the truth about ourselves, and grace at their point of the meeting.
In such peerless parables as The Prodigal Son (or should it be The Good Father) of Luke 15, Jesus made known the loving God who, in the living Christ, comes alongside at our point of most acute need, on our Emmaus Road.
When we allow him, God helps us see our situation.
The War Cry, April 25, 1998