The shock of what happened couldn't have been worse than if an earthquake had split the ground and swallowed all of Jerusalem. The disciples high hopes for the restoration of Israel under the leadership of a kingly Messiah were crushed. As Cleopas and his friend sadly turned toward their home in Emmaus, these faithful but dejected followers of Jesus were trying to figure out, "What went wrong?"
While reading this passage during our family devotions, I was impressed by this scenario found in the Gospel of Luke because it somewhat depicted my personal experience. The disciples' hopes on Him were high. They enjoyed His presence, His teaching, His miracles, and everything about Him. What a future with this man! But now, His followers were thoroughly disillusioned; they were sure they lost their Messiah forever. They could hardly believe He was dead -- crucified!
When the "unexpected" strikes, we may panic, and in the aftermath try to discern "why" such a catastrophe took place.
Frankly, our own answers rarely make sense. Instead, we are left confused and in despair. We may even be tempted to think God forgot about us, -- or left us. At a time like that human reasoning doesn't seem to add up to anything positive. It is a most depressing experience.
But notice, -- a new dimension enters this picture of gloom. While the disciples continued to wrestle with their unanswered questions and to struggle with their despair -- "Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them" (NIV). Up to this point, their hopelessness defied all efforts to adequately explain what happened, or to calm the storm that raged within their grief stricken hearts. But, after Jesus caught up with them, and "walked along with them," amazingly, their distress and misery slowly dissolved. By the time Cleopas and his friend arrived at their village, their eyes were opened, and later they confessed, "Our hearts burned within us as He talked with us" (vs.32).
When one's mate or child is discovered to be in a physically hopeless state, or if some other disaster takes place that crushes all anticipation for a happy life, one can very easily find himself asking many questions to which there doesn't seem to be satisfactory answers. The "road to Emmaus" can be a very frustrating one, -- until you begin to realize that Another Person, Who has the answers, has joined you in your journey.
When a painfully unexpected incident takes place, it is easy to blame one's self or another, or even dare to accuse God of being cold-hearted and unconcerned.
You can be sure at such times that the devil will give us misleading reasons as to the cause for our dilemma. But he is a liar!
When the unknown Traveler joined them, Cleopas and his friend did the right thing. They accepted His companionship; they confessed their problem, they listened to Him, they invited Him to fellowship with them in their home.
What did Jesus do to calm the storm in the disciples' hearts? He directed them to the "Scriptures" -- the Word of God (vss.25-27). "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path" (Psa. 119:105). Jesus is "The Light of the World." When He is allowed to come into our life, He clears up problems; He helps us to see things as they really are. No one can answer our questions or solve our problems like God's Word. When we find ourselves in a dilemma, be aware that Jesus is already drawing near to us, to offer illumination, encouragement, and faith. He wants to talk with us, to help us know that God has not forgotten about us. "Before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear" (Isa. 65:24; Jer. 33:3). He is still in charge, regardless of how difficult and foreboding the situation may seem.
After Paul prayed three times for deliverance from his "thorn in the flesh," God did not change the painful situation, but instead told him, "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). On hearing that, Paul understood, and later was able to honestly say he gloried in trials and tribulations (Rom. 5:3), because he realized that the experience drew Him closer to the Lord, and gave Him a more meaningful relationship with Christ. (1 Pet. 4:12,13).
As long as the disciples "reasoned together" among themselves (vs.15), trying to figure out what happened, the painful situation remained painfully unsolved. But when Jesus drew near and opened up conversation with them, it was then that their eyes became opened and they began to understand. His presence and companionship brought enlightenment, faith and joy to their hearts.
For Cleopas and the rest of the disciples, the problem was hopeless, until they acknowledged Jesus' presence, confessed their need, were willing to hear and accept His word, and invited Him into their fellowship. Let's not solely depend on our own intellect to solve our dilemmas. Walking daily with Christ and allowing Him to point us to His word will bring a heavenly warmth to our hearts. Trust Him; He knows the answers and is willing to share them with us.