Jesus' Lesson in Listening
Jesus wants these two on the road to Emmaus to listen without focusing on His presence.
In response to the April 2nd attack at the north side of the US Capitol, President Biden issued the following statement:
"We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans' family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it."
Officer William Evans died from a knife attack on Good Friday, and another officer is recovering from sustained injuries allegedly committed by Noah Green. It is hard to imagine the deep grief and sorrow Evans’s mother and two children, Logan and Abigail, are experiencing in his sudden and tragic death.
Such a loss leaves one shocked, asking unanswered questions. Nothing about the officer’s death makes sense. For the family, friends, and the Capitol police community there is only great sadness.
Days after the death of Jesus, sadness and grief dominated many in Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke provides a window into the souls of those who occupied the capital city days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Sure, some celebrated the death and finality of the life of Christ. Many religious leaders longed for his demise. But we are also informed of two men on their way to Emmaus who were not celebrating.
Their focus of hope had been decimated. Jesus’ crucifixion and what they believed as false rumors of His resurrection caused them to enter a season of despair. For these two, both the present and future were bleak and, at best, confusing. They were in shock. Luke describes both as sad and with hearts that burned regarding the absence of Jesus. It is in this state of deep remorse that the gospel writer describes their encounter with the resurrected Jesus,
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
The gospel writer provides details regarding the interaction and conversation the two had with Jesus. What was the dominant takeaway? The two were conversing with Jesus as if a stranger unfamiliar with the last days in Jerusalem.
They were in the presence of Jesus and did not recognize Him. Are we given the reason? Even though they did not appreciate His presence, they seem to benefit from His teaching: an overview of God’s plan of redemption throughout the Scriptures.
The encounter was not without benefit. Jesus is in control. He wants them to listen without focusing on His presence. They cannot see him because they have not engaged and accepted the Scriptures fully. They were poor listeners.
As a Christian, I long to be in the presence of my Savior. Yet, for the present, I have His word which needs to be accepted, understood, and applied. I have all that I need for all that life brings to me. If it is sorrow, I have the comfort of the Psalms. If the need is wisdom or direction, my Lord has spoken. When I fall into sin I have the gospels. If I pursue knowing the nature and attributes of my God, or details regarding his work of redemption, I have his complete teaching.
“Lord, thank you that you conquered the grave. Please enable me to listen well to you. May your Holy Spirit open my mind and heart to receive and accept all that you have said. May I not only thirst for your truth but by your grace receive and apply it fully.
Chuck Garriott is the founder and Executive Director of Ministry to State. He lives in Washington, D.C.