But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened, (Luke 24:21).
This Scripture pulsates with disappointment and discouragement. Two disciples, Cleopas and his unnamed colleague are on their way to their home in Emmaus from Jerusalem, a city abuzz with current news about the recent execution of a young, vibrant itinerant Rabbi who had done many wonders and signs among the people including raising people from the dead and striding across the foamy, tempestuous waves of the sea of Galilee to save a boat of frightened disciples. Everybody had hoped He would be the One to deliver Israel from Roman domination. Unfortunately, He had died a shameful death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Unbelievable!!! What was even more astonishing, said those who had followed the course of events to the end, was that Jesus seemed puzzlingly willing to subject Himself to this humiliating and torturous form of death.
Cleopas viewed and interpreted Jesus’ work and sacrificial death from a natural perspective. His hopes and desires and expectations were dashed because they were at variance with God’s will for His Son. That was the source of his perplexity, bewilderment and even confusion. Now he talks with despondency about the third day since the crucifixion, and the women’s testimony that they had seen the risen Lord, but Cleopas misses the significance, the spiritual implications, and the definitive universal benefits of the entire event. He has an opinion and is trying to justify it. The deliverance he and his ilk had anticipated was a political one. They were more concerned about their physical bondage than their spiritual bondage, which had led to physical bondage in the first place. To Cleopas, Jesus’ death was an unfortunate and disappointing occurrence; a source of dejection and disillusionment.
Looking back in retrospect, we know that he had totally missed the point. But he is not alone in this. Cleopas might as well be my spiritual twin. Alas, there is usually an uncanny dichotomy between God’s way and my own expectations of Him. Only with hindsight do I get an opaque inkling of how things were actually meant to be. Kierkegaard aptly observed that life can only be understood backwards although it must be lived forwards. There are times, however, when the veil remains drawn and the loud silence and intense darkness become nerve-wracking. Only Jesus makes sense then.
Jesus came not to do our will. He came as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of this world (John 1:29). He is the Great Physician of every physical and spiritual malady as demonstrated by the accounts of His life in the gospels. He is the Light that shines into the dark and diseased areas of our lives to drive out the dark pathogens that plague our souls. He intercepts the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of disease in the body, soul and spirit. He morphs us, nay recreates us into new creatures (1 Cor. 5:17).
Cleopas and his colleague’s failure to recognize the risen Lord walking beside them is a reflection of their spiritual blindness and lack of comprehension about what the Scriptures taught regarding the role of the Messiah. The so-called sad story Cleopas shares with Jesus is, in actual fact, the grandest and most glorious story of all history. It is a story about the manifestation of the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). Indeed, it is the eternal life-line of the entire universe. Because of this story, I dare believe that my sad stories are also glorious when viewed from God’s merciful perspective. As C.S. Lewis once remarked, God gives us back with His right hand what He takes with His left hand. Jesus sensed a deeper need in His two disciples. Ever the caring Savior, He came to revive their flickering faith, which was nearly snuffed out at Golgotha.