As Cleopas and his companion travelled on the short road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) they were preoccupied not with the physical hardship of the journey but with the events of recent days. Their faith and hope – their worldview – had been challenged and shattered by death’s bitter blow, crushing in its apparent finality. Their dismay and confusion would have been absolute because they did not yet know of Jesus’ resurrection: while expressing hope in Christ for this life only they would indeed have been of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19).
Their heavenly visitor, coming alongside them, sensed their downcast spirits and sensitively asked for more details. We hear his further question, “What things?” and reflect that the man from heaven is still interested today in events which concern those whom he loves.
We have the Lord’s presence with us always on the road. The Holy Spirit brings the things of Christ to our remembrance from his word.
What a marvellous and comprehensive answer they fearlessly gave to the one asking the reason for their evident dejection. It challenges us to do likewise when others ask us a reason not for dejection but for hope (2 Pet. 3:15). Responding to their earth-bound vision, the Lord Jesus took over the conversation and for the remainder of the journey “expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” We long to ask in return, “What things?” What did the Son of God reveal about himself from the word of God? What pictures of suffering, resurrection and glory did he declare to them?
Ultimately, the journey for these two friends culminated in extreme joy when they recognised their risen Lord. Such jubilation has been (John 20:20) and indeed will yet be the experience of every believer, and we wait for him, more than they who watch for the morning (Ps. 130:6).
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and these two returned to Jerusalem to share their new understanding of resurrection. On their way they reflected on the burning heart experience, and were lifted above the temporal things of earth to consider eternal heavenly realities (2 Cor. 4:18; Col. 3:2).
In our busy lives, despite greater freedom from persecution, and despite the wealth and comparative ease we enjoy, the burning heart experience can likewise only be replicated by direct communication with the Lord, opening the Scriptures for ourselves, and appreciating the reality of his resurrection (Luke 24:32). We have the Lord’s presence with us always on the road. The Holy Spirit brings the things of Christ to our remembrance from his word.
On their way they reflected on the burning heart experience, and were lifted above the temporal things of earth to consider eternal heavenly realities.
Earthly companionship too, is so important – few can travel the road alone. One instance of this is as Christian believers meet to break bread in Churches of God, brothers have opportunity to present things that they have composed concerning the Lord Jesus (Ps. 45:1). Others have their sights lifted beyond earthly things to contemplate the heavenly, and can be encouraged on their own journey.
Considering those who habitually punctuate their journey with such times of fellowship, the hymn writer Isaac Watts declares,
God is their strength, and on the road
They lean upon their Helper, God.
Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
Till all shall meet in heaven at length. (source)
As we continue on life’s road, we are struck by the realisation that the journey might end at any moment, for he is coming to meet us. Though sometimes sad, we watch, for the morning is coming (Ps. 30:5). How quickly things will change, forever!
David McCarty, The Church of God in Brantford (ON)