Meet the Stranger in the Road
- Monday, June 20, 2011
Are you discouraged? Disappointed with God and life? Do you wonder if you are a fool for believing in Jesus? Are you embarrassed by “prophets” who claim special knowledge in the name of Jesus—only to be exposed as frauds? Are you secretly panicked about all the earthquakes and disasters? Fearful of the future?
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) would understand. Their whole world was threatened.
They thought Jesus would overthrow Roman domination and restore Israel as a sovereign country.
They thought Jesus would rule the world.
Instead, Jesus was executed in the most humiliating way possible: crucifixion.
Then the two disciples encountered a stranger who redefined their understanding of the purpose of God and their very lives. Come along and Meet the Stranger on the Road.
In the Middle of the Road
“I feel like a fool,” Cleopas said to his fellow disciple trudging down the road with him. “I believed him. I truly believed in him. I sacrificed everything. Even now, even after seeing him dead, I still have a hard time believing He was not the redeemer of Israel.”
His companion sighed and nodded. “Me, too. He was so mighty with the power of God. I can’t help but wonder why God abandoned him.”
Therein lay the root of their many unspoken questions “If Jesus was not the messiah, if God abandoned Jesus, what hope have we? Or future? Are we as good as dead?”
A sudden prickle of paranoia ran up their spines. Fearfully, they glanced over their shoulders. A stranger only two paces behind them! From where did he appear so suddenly? What did he want?
The stranger seemed harmless as he matched his stride to theirs. “What are you discussing so intently? And why so sad?”
“You must be the only who doesn’t know what happened in Jerusalem this weekend,” Cleopas replied.
“Then tell me,” the stranger invited.
Cleopas took a deep breath. Where to begin? The earthquakes? The torn temple curtain? So much to tell but the epicenter of it all was Jesus.
“Have you not heard of Jesus of Nazareth?” asked Cleopas. “He was a prophet, mighty in word and deed. We were certain he was the messiah,” the men exchanged disappointed glances, “but the chief priests and our rulers plotted against him. In the end, crucified him. That was three days ago.
“This very morning, some women went to his tomb. His body was missing! What’s more, the women said angels told them he was alive. Alive! We do not know what to believe.”
The stranger almost laughed. “Don’t be silly. Can you honestly say you believe the prophets when they say the Messiah will come but not believe them when they say the Messiah will suffer exactly those things you have described before he is revealed?”
The truth of the stranger’s words burned in their hearts. This was just the sort of thing Jesus would say. They wanted to hear more.
And the stranger had a lot to say. In the growing shadows, a flicker of hope sprang up in them as the stranger recalled prophecy after prophecy, beginning with Moses and branching through later prophets, concerning the life, death, resurrection, and revelation of the Messiah. It all began to make sense. Perhaps Jesus was—is—the messiah after all, they thought.
“Shalom,” the stranger bade them as they came to their destination.
“Wait!” said Cleopas. “Please stay with us. It’s nearly sunset.”
The stranger agreed.
At the supper table, the bread was passed to the stranger as the honored guest. When he held up the bread to recite the traditional blessing—“Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, Who has brought forth bread from the earth”— came a lightning bolt of instant recognition. His hands! His torn, nail-ravaged hands! This could only be Jesus!
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