On resurrection day, Jesus met two of his disciples on their way to Emmaus. They were feeling lost, disillusioned, and hopeless because of the very public death of Jesus Christ they had witnessed just days before. They were so downcast they didn’t even recognize Jesus as He walked along with them. Have you ever felt that way?
These disciples had built their identity, who they believed they were, on their own story. It was based on being an Israelite and looking forward to the establishment the kingdom of Israel (Lk 24:19-21). This was their Jewish identity, it was who they believed they were. But in a matter of hours, like a house of cards, their identity fell apart with Jesus’ crucifixion.
I did not grow up in a Christian home or attend church as a child. I was on my own early in life, but I worked hard to create a life for me and my family. Things were difficult but, overall I thought I had done most things right. However, one day, my life fell apart, and I was deeply hurt and disillusioned. Like the disciples, I didn’t see it coming. That’s often the way our lives change – unexpectedly. Through various circumstances, God allowed me to realize how much I needed Him, slowly drew me to Himself and in middle-life, I became a Christian. I learned that for most of my life, I had based my identity on something other than Him.
Like the disciples, we sometimes build our identity on our traditions, education, cultural values, careers, money, family, or happiness. However, when our identity is built on the things of this world, we are focusing on the “here and now”, and there is nothing more unstable than the “here and now,” as we have all seen over the last many weeks.
The risen Jesus knew the disciples’ hearts and came to their rescue. Jesus “himself drew near and went with them” (Luke 24:15). Jesus didn’t wait for them to come to Him. Jesus met the disciples where they were, in their distress as they were seeking to make sense of it all, looking for a solid foundation to anchor their identity, while they were caught up in their own small, pitiful story of hopelessness. Here, Jesus told them another story: God’s story. God’s resurrection story which brings hope to our story, wherever we are in it. And just as He did with the disciples, Jesus meets us where we are. Because He is alive, in Him, we have a new identity, a resurrection identity. In Jesus, the puzzle pieces of our lives fit together coherently because He gives us the whole picture of what life truly is about. Because of His resurrection, we are now adopted as Children of God and are a part of His magnificent story.
In Jesus, the disciples found joy in the midst of pain, and hope in the midst of loss and hopelessness. And so can we.
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.