As part of the ministry that I joined last year, I was handed the task of making videos of Bible lessons for children since we are not having actual classes this year. When I first heard about this job, I was not excited because I am not very creative! I was very fearful and worried that I would do a terrible job. But God was working in me to trust Him more, so I submitted in faith, through the fear. At the first attempt at recording, I was so nervous I could barely speak and we had to start over. I was sweating and forgot half the things I was going to say. Thankfully the other ladies were very encouraging and patient. But over time I got a little better at recording and even began to enjoy it. But even more interesting to me is that I have learned so much from the preparation required to make the videos. I’m not sure who chose the lessons for each teacher, but I am very sure they prayed about it and God gave me just the right assignments. Namely, these lessons have forced me to think, pray, and wrestle with the scriptures until the Holy Spirit helped me understand, because they were not simple lessons to explain to children. Today I would like to share one with you that I had a lot of trouble with. I hope it will be helpful to someone.
The story is fairly well-known, since it is from the book of Luke that most Christians have read, but it is a bit deeper than some. It takes place on the day Jesus left the tomb, three days after he was crucified. I will read it to you. This is from the International Children’s Bible, but it is not very different than all the other translations,it just uses easier words.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a town named Emmaus. It is about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking about everything that had happened. 15 While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself came near and began walking with them. 16 (They were not allowed to recognize Jesus.) 17 Then he said, “What are these things you are talking about while you walk?”
The two followers stopped. Their faces were very sad. 18 The one named Cleopas answered, “You must be the only one in Jerusalem who does not know what just happened there.”
19 Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about?”
The followers said, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet from God to all the people. He said and did many powerful things. 20 Our leaders and the leading priests gave him up to be judged and killed. They nailed him to a cross. 21 But we were hoping that he would free the Jews. It is now the third day since this happened. 22 And today some women among us told us some amazing things. Early this morning they went to the tomb, 23 but they did not find his body there. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels. The angels said that Jesus was alive! 24 So some of our group went to the tomb, too. They found it just as the women said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You are foolish and slow to realize what is true. You should believe everything the prophets said. 26 They said that the Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory.” 27 Then Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures. He started with Moses, and then he talked about what all the prophets had said about him.
28 They came near the town of Emmaus, and Jesus acted as if he did not plan to stop there. 29 But they begged him, “Stay with us. It is late; it is almost night.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 Jesus sat down with them and took some bread. He gave thanks for the food and divided it. Then he gave it to them. 31 And then, they were allowed to recognize Jesus. But when they saw who he was, he disappeared. 32 They said to each other, “When Jesus talked to us on the road, it felt like a fire burning in us. It was exciting when he explained the true meaning of the Scriptures.”
33 So the two followers got up at once and went back to Jerusalem. There they found the 11 apostles and others gathered. 34 They were saying, “The Lord really has risen from death! He showed himself to Simon.”
35 Then the two followers told what had happened on the road. They talked about how they recognized Jesus when he divided the bread.
At first glance, it seems fairly straightforward. Two sad and disappointed men are walking. Jesus comes along and talks to them about himself, and they have dinner, and then they recognize him. But if you look closer, it should cause you to ask several questions.
- Why didn’t the disciples recognize Jesus?
- Why were they sad even though the women told them Jesus was alive?
- Why did Jesus go with them?
- Why did Jesus stay and eat with them?
- Whey did they finally recognize him?
- How can I apply this truth to my own life?
I take my job of teaching children very seriously and I want to teach them the truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the Bible. So I felt very nervous about getting this not-so-simple lesson wrong. I did a lot of research and I prayed. It took time! But I think I finally understand it. Here are the answers to the questions.
1-2. Wrong expectations cloud our vision.
The Bible simply says they were kept from recognizing him. It does not say why or how. We don’t know if he physically looked different or if Jesus purposely disguised himself. Others of his followers did not recognize him either after he came out of the tomb. Jesus had to reveal himself to them. In this case, the men did not recognize Jesus because they did not really know him. And because they didn’t really know who he was, they had the wrong expectations. They were expecting him to save them from the Romans and become their earthly King. And because their expectations were wrong, even when new information was presented, that Jesus was not dead, they did not believe it. Therefore, even when Jesus was right there, they could not see him.
3. Jesus had mercy on them and showed them grace even though they lacked faith.
Nothing is a coincidence in this life. God knows all. Jesus knew what these men were talking about and why they were sad. He knew they were still blind to the truth. Now, here I will be careful because I do not want to put words in God’s mouth. I don’t know why Jesus did this, I only know that he did it. He went to them and gave them another chance to see the truth. He actually called then fools for not believing the prophets, and they did not get angry and tell him to go away. They wanted to understand. So he told them how the scriptures foretold that Jesus was going to die and rise again, that it was all part of the prophecies about him. They listened eagerly. Jesus wanted to make sure they had the right information.
4. Jesus waited for the men to invite him to come stay with them.
After Jesus made sure they had the correct information, he acted like he was going to keep going down the road, but they begged him to stay with them. So he did.
5. Jesus revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread.
This is passage is a little vague and the meaning is much debated among theologians. I am not a theologian. To me it means that this was the moment that God gave them the faith they needed to understand and believe all that Jesus had taught them. He gave them the bread, they took and immediately their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus. It takes us back to the Last Supper when Jesus was with his disciples, just a few days earlier, and he told them the bread is his body and the wine is his blood and to do this in remembrance of me. And also Jesus taught the people, “I am the bread that comes from heaven.” These men were part of the group that had been following Jesus. There are many other examples of Jesus using food, bread, and eating to teach about himself and believing in him. He said that his food was to do his Father’s will. He fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. He called himself the living manna from heaven.
6. They were so excited to share what had happened that they went all the way back to Jerusalem that night.
This was about a 7 mile walk in the dark. They must have felt that this information was too important to wait until morning. How can we apply that sense of urgency to share the good news with people in our own lives?
What about you? Do you really know Jesus? Do you understand who he is ? If you do, you will feel excited and eager to make sure others know that Jesus is alive and he is our Savior! Jesus is not JUST a prophet who did many signs and wonders and healings and taught people how to live in harmony with each other. He is not JUST a good man or wise teacher, though he was those things. He is also EQUAL in authority with GOD. He has been given the authority to JUDGE the world on Judgment Day. He is seated at the right hand of God. All things were created by him and through him. He is the Word, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Even if you don’t agree with all of this, I hope you will see that Jesus made the first move in this situation. He went to them, he taught them, he responded to their request to stay with him, and when he handed them the bread, they took it. If you don’t know Christ as your savior, this is your chance. Go to him, let him teach you.