Summary: When we recognize Jesus' presence we can live with trust and faith.
“A Word for the Thickheaded and Slow-Hearted”
There was an important business executive who boarded the New Orleans to Washington train. He had a very important business engagement and he needed to be awakened in order to get off the train in Atlanta about five o’clock in the morning. Since he was a heavy sleeper he found a porter and told him, “I want you to awaken me so that I might get off the train at five o’clock in the morning. Now I’m a heavy sleeper,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much I fret and fuss and fume or what I do to you – I have to get off the train in Atlanta. If you have to remove me bodily,” he said, “you get me off that train in Atlanta.” Well, the next morning he awakened about 9 o’clock, having slept all night and having missed Atlanta, and found that he was speeding toward Washington. He located the porter and really poured it on with all sorts of abusive language, almost attacking the poor guy bodily. After he left, someone said to the porter, “How could you stand there and take that kind of talk from that man?” The porter said, rather bewildered, “That ain’t nothin’! You should’ve heard that guy I put off in Atlanta!”
Too often we fail to get off at the right station and end up heading to where we do not want to go – especially when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus. We miss a major thrust of the resurrection and fail to live with the confidence and hope it can bring into our lives. And we’re not alone – to the two men traveling to Emmaus Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” We need to hear this morning Jesus’ words to those of us who are thickheaded and slow-hearted.
The scene opens (vs. 13) with two of Jesus’ followers walking to Emmaus. They were in need of REFOCUSED MINDS. They were confused about all that had taken place. They were talking about all that happened to Jesus and the current rumors about His missing body. Their minds had a FIXATION OF THE PAST. It didn’t make sense, they could not understand, they couldn’t connect all the dots of the picture the prophets had painted. And because they couldn’t understand, their hope had dimmed and their faith had frozen. They were walking in a mental fog.
How like us! The unexpected and unexplained happens. Divorce occurs; death strikes; illness ravages; relationships are broken; jobs disappear; unanticipated change breaks in. “It doesn’t make sense! How could this happen? Who’s to blame? Why didn’t I know about it?” We have difficulty accepting it; we try to analyze it, get a handle on it, and understand it so we can feel some sense of control in our lives. We walk around in a fog, unable to exercise faith until we’ve connected all the dots and put all the pieces together.
Then along came Jesus! It’s true – at first they did not recognize Him – but the point is, Jesus was there. He had not abandoned them. And Jesus just being there forced them to an ORIENTATION TO THE PRESENT. They had to refocus and deal with Jesus. And so do we. No matter what the situation JESUS WALKS WITH US. It’s one thing to know that Jesus is in Heaven, but to know Him on the way is totally different. And Jesus is most companionable when we are troubled and confused. His presence brings the light of His countenance upon us, even if we cannot see Him or do not recognize Him. As long as we fixate on the past we will not see Him. IF YOUR HEAD IS HUNG IN DESPAIR, YOU CANNOT SEE THE HORIZON OF GOD’S PROVISION. But to know He’s there allows us to begin to deal with Him. And when we deal with Him we become less worried about what we do not know or understand and more inclined to increase our faith. We become less concerned with control and more concerned with companionship. To know Jesus walks with us may not solve or eradicate all our problems or answer all our questions, but it reminds us Jesus will walk with us through them. THE HOUR OF OUR DISAPPOINTMENT IS THE MOMENT OF HIS APPOINTMENT. One poet penned it:
I came to the swift, raging river,
And the roar held the echo of fear;
“Oh, Lord, give me wings to fly over,
If you are, as You promised, quite near.”
But He said, “Trust the grace I am giving,
All-pervasive, sufficient for you.
Take my hand – we will face this together;
But My plan is – not over, but through.”