Like the two men on the road to Emmaus, if you are walking the wrong way, discouraged and confused by the hopeless circumstances that swirl around you, look to the Scriptures for guidance. Look to the Scriptures for the Truth. The Scriptures are where you can find the answers to your confusion and where you can find the hope to walk the way you should walk. And where you’ll recognize that Jesus himself is walking with you!
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life!” (John 14:6).
I’m clear on what Jesus meant by being the Way and the Life. But I struggle a bit over what Jesus meant by being the Truth.
To borrow a famous question by Pontus Pilate: “What is Truth?”. (John 18:38).
Similarly, what did Jesus mean when he said we should “worship in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24 KJV)?
Once again, I’m clear about what Jesus meant by worshiping in Spirit. But I struggle a bit over what Jesus meant by worshiping in Truth.
Many volumes of philosophy and theology have struggled over the existence and meaning of truth. So I am in good company in my struggles to understand what Jesus meant by the word “Truth”.
In my blogs “The Way of Jesus: The Truth”; “The Way of Jesus: The Truth of Christmas”; and “The Way of Jesus: The Truth of Easter”, I shared some insights that help me in my struggle to understand the meaning of Truth.
In this blog, I share some helpful insights for overcoming hopeless confusion about the Truth based on the experiences of the two men who Jesus met as they walked away from Jerusalem after the Resurrection of Jesus.
These insights were first published in 2004 as the chapter titled “A Healthy Jesus Walks to Emmaus” in “PART SEVEN: Jesus Resurrects Hope by Defeating Death” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 313-318.
Later that same first day of the week that Mary found the empty tomb and her risen Lord, two men left Jerusalem to go to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13). These two men left Jerusalem even though they had heard the first reports of Jesus’ resurrection.
It seems odd that in the midst of so much excitement, they would have left Jerusalem.
We don’t know why they left.
Maybe they had pressing business commitments elsewhere for the next day.
Maybe they were afraid of being arrested and executed as Jesus had been.
Perhaps it’s just as well that we don’t know the specific reason why these two men left Jerusalem. This uncertainty helps us realize that there are many reasons—and many excuses—that we use to leave the very places where God is most at work.
Because—for whatever reason or reasons—these two men who had been following Jesus were walking away from the greatest event in history. They lacked the perception, interest or commitment to be personally involved in what God was doing in the world at that moment.
Instead—like a movie critic criticizing movies—they busied themselves with talking (and often criticizing) what God (the greatest movie director of all time) and other followers of Jesus were doing, believing and saying.
Since they were talkers instead of doers, “[t]hey were talking with each other about everything that had happened” (Luke 24:14). And, as they talked, they walked further and further from where God was at work—the place where they needed to be.
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them” (Luke 24:15).
It is comforting to realize that Jesus was willing to walk along with them even though they were heading in the wrong direction. Jesus is willing to be patient with us as we learn his ways better.
And it is wise to remember that, even though Jesus was right there with them, “they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16).
We are not told why Jesus kept these disciples from recognizing him while he walked with them.
But we often learn about God by going through experiences that seem to have nothing to do with God until, looking back at them—sometimes years later—we realize that God sent those experiences our way to make us wiser, better, more mature, more disciplined people.
In this case, I suspect that [the reason] Jesus did not reveal himself to these disciples [was that] he had things to teach them that they’d learn better if they didn’t recognize him immediately.
In particular, it was necessary that these two disciples not immediately recognize Jesus from his physical appearance because he wanted to teach them that they should rely on the Scriptures to recognize Jesus and his ways.
As we’ve seen before, when Jesus teaches, he often starts with questions.
That is why it is never wrong to question the things that people—even Christians and clergy—teach us. Often these questions come from God to help you know him and his ways better. [Often these questions come from God to help you know the Truth about Jesus and his ways better.]
In this case, as Jesus walked along with them, he first “asked them, ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’” (Luke 24:17).
They did not answer quickly. “They stood still, their faces downcast” (Luke 24:17).
Their hearts were in the right place. Even though their feet were taking them the wrong way.
They had deeply loved Jesus and his ways.
Their downcast faces proved their sincere grief at the tragedy that befell him.
All they needed was understanding and hope to get them walking the right direction.
[All they needed was the Truth!]
Similarly, if you keep your heart sincerely loving Jesus, he will find a way to get you walking in the right direction, even if your downcast spirits temporarily lead you the wrong way. . . . .
Before illuminating them about God and his ways, Jesus wanted these two men to explain what they believed. Jesus didn’t want to talk over their heads.
He wanted to know what was going on in their hearts and minds before applying the “medicine” that would heal their downcast spirits. So Jesus asked the men another simple question: “What things?” (Luke 24:19).
Now their tongues loosened up. And their confusion and discouragement about life and God’s ways came bursting forth:
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. . . . (Luke 24:19-21).
There’s no indication that Jesus said anything as they told him their distressing tale. Perhaps with a glance Jesus gave them the courage to [continue telling him] about what perplexed and depressed them. So they continued:
And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us.
They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:21-24).
I imagine that as they talked with this stranger, they made it clear by their tone of voice that they didn’t believe the women’s foolish story that Jesus had risen from the dead.
But Jesus had heard enough.
It was time to teach these men who was really being foolish. And it wasn’t the determined, faithful women who loved him so much that they “foolishly” came to his tomb early that morning to anoint his body, despite the apparently hopeless circumstances of the large stone, the Roman seal, and the Roman troops blocking their way.
Jesus “said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
To prove his point, Jesus did not rely on the credibility of the women who witnessed his resurrection. Nor did he reason from general philosophical principles.
Jesus relied on the Scriptures to prove his point.
“[B]eginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
In the same way today, if you are walking the wrong way, discouraged and confused by the hopeless circumstances that swirl around you, look to the Scriptures for guidance. [Look to the Scriptures for the Truth.]
That is where you can find the answers to your confusion and [where you can find] the hope to walk the way you should walk.
Because “[a]ll Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [person] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)—thoroughly equipped to worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth by blessing all peoples in the Promised Land.
And so, if you study the Scriptures sincerely and diligently, Jesus will walk with you, restoring hope to your heart and purpose to your life.
Jesus will heal your Promised Land, enabling you to establish the work of your hands.
However, he will seldom do so in as dramatic a fashion as he did that first Easter as he befriended the two men walking to Emmaus.
As they approached the village . . ., Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24:28-29)
Keep in mind that the men did not yet realize that their traveling companion was Jesus. Similarly, you may not at first realize that it is God himself who is helping you find hope and purpose from studying the Scriptures.
But, as long as you feel strongly urged to keep studying the Scriptures, you can be confident that you are in the process by which God will make himself fully known to you.
Eventually, you’ll recognize [the Truth] that Jesus is the friendly traveling companion of your life.
The moment of recognition for these two men came as they shared a meal with their “new” friend.
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him . . .” (Luke 24:30-31). And as soon as the men recognized Jesus, “he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:31).
We are not told how these two men recognized Jesus at that moment. Indeed, perhaps it is good that we are left to our imaginations to search for the ways that people can recognize Jesus. Because different people recognize Jesus for different reasons.
Some people may recognize Jesus from the close fellowship found sharing a meal. Others may recognize Jesus as they begin to taste the good things he gives them—spiritual food such as hope in their heart and purpose in their life.
Others may recognize Jesus when they see the nail holes in his hands as he gives them their spiritual food. When they realize that Jesus gave his life to save them, they recognize Jesus as their Savior.
Whatever specific act by Jesus opens your eyes so that you recognize that he has been walking with you and talking with you, I hope you feel as much excitement as these two men felt. Once they realized who they’d been with, “[t]hey asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32).
I hope that once you recognize Jesus, you will act on that revelation as quickly and decisively as these two men did.
Jesus had taught the men what they needed to know.
Now was the time for action. Not for sitting around the table eating. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem” (Luke 24:33).
Back in Jerusalem—the place where God wanted them to be—these two men found even more reason to have hope in their hearts and purpose in their lives. Because “[t]here they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’” (Luke 24:33-34).
Furthermore, encouraged by the faith of other believers, these two men found a new purpose for their lives—giving hope to others by telling “what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (Luke 24:35).
Today, as on the first Easter, [when you learn the Truth,] you can fill your heart with hope and your life with purpose by going to the place where God wants you to be—the place where God is at work. The Promised Land!
In the Promised Land, you will find best friends who believe that Jesus is alive.
In the Promised Land, you will find best friends who feel their hearts burn within them as they open the Scriptures to learn [the Truth] about Jesus and his ways.
In the Promised Land, you will find best friends who worship Jesus Christ by joyfully proclaiming: “It is true! The Lord has risen.”
In the Promised Land, you will find a new purpose for your life—blessing all peoples by giving them hope. [see my book The Promised Land, especially in the section titled “Nimrod’s Wars and Babel’s Arrogant Selfishness”, at pages 21-24.]
How will you give all these people hope?
By being best friends with them. And by telling these good friends the good news about Jesus. [By telling them the Truth about Jesus.]
You’ll tell these best friends how Jesus walked with you through life before you even recognized him.
You’ll tell these best friends how your heart burned within you while you diligently and sincerely studied the Scriptures to learn [the Truth] about Jesus and his ways.
You’ll tell these best friends what Jesus did that opened your eyes so that you recognized him.
You’ll tell these best friends how to walk the Way that Jesus wants you to walk.
You’ll tell these best friends the Way to reach the place where God wants you to be.
You’ll tell these best friends the Way to reach the place where God is at work—the Promised Land.
You’ll tell these best friends how Jesus guided and carried you across oceans of hopeless confusion until you reached the Promised Land.
You’ll tell these best friends the Truth about the Way to enjoy Life fully.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
When have you experienced hopeless confusion? How? Why?
When have you walked away from the place where God was at work? How? Why?
When have you walked away from the place where God wanted you to be? How? Why?
When has the Truth overcome your hopeless confusion? How? Why?
When has the Truth led you back to the place where God was at work? How? Why?
When has the Truth led you back to the place where God wanted you to be? How? Why?
To learn more about what Jesus might have explained about himself based on the Scriptures, please read the chapters “Jesus Allows Himself To Be Arrested Without a Fight”, “Jesus Tells the High Priest That He Is the Messiah” and “Jesus Forgives His Enemies and Trusts God”, in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 259-275,287-293.
Please read my other blogs related to the Way of Jesus (and the blogs referenced by them): “The Way of Jesus: The Nones”, “The Way of Jesus: Following the Way of the Wisdom That Follows the Way of the LORD”, “The Way of Jesus: St. Francis of Assisi”, “The Way of Jesus: The Truth of Christmas”, and “The Way of Jesus: The Truth of Easter”.