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At times, it has been a season of despair

Liam Husband considers how the two disciples walking back to Emmaus might understand how bewildering the past year has been. 

It’s fair to say things haven’t gone as planned for anyone over the last year.

I know personally for my family, we’ve had to let go of a few goals and a few arrangements. Holidays, birthdays and events all cast aside; it has been a season of despair at times, joy at others.

Either way, it has never been what we’ve predicted or expected. 

It was only last Easter I found myself preaching in front of a camera for the first time. At our church, all our plans went out of the window. Momentum was lost and we found a heap of confusion before us.

There were many walks out with the dog where I felt completely lost, let down, confused and wondering just what was happening in front of me. This wasn’t what I planned.

It is funny how much we hold on to our own plans at times. I wasn’t prepared for the sudden change, and my heart was all over the place... be-wildered. 

I imagine the two disciples walking back to Emmaus felt the same. For a time they were full of anticipation with a great sense of momentum. They, along with others, watched as the promised Messiah challenged the system, filling everyone with fervent hope and renewed faith. More and more people followed Jesus.

But then, as we know, it all came to a halt. What they thought was going to happen – what they assumed was the plan never came to fruition.

I can imagine their hope escaping them slowly like a deflating balloon – finally emptying as the tomb was closed, sealing their hopes within. 

What else to do now but go back home and try to find comfort? On the road as they walked their heads were downcast, the recent events lying heavily on their hearts.

The despair they were working through didn’t allow them the awareness to give much hospitality to the visitor who walked with them. After a few words were exchanged it would seem this was the only man around who didn’t know what had just happened... how could this be?

Their disappointment stood like a barrier between them. Here was the resurrected Jesus standing before them, within touching distance, waiting I expect, for them to see him in his fulfilment.

But the loss they had lived through clouded the reality of who he was. It blinded their hearts to the truth.

The more time spent with him, the more their hearts burned. As they walked and talked, Jesus led them to the Word and the promises fulfilled in his death and resurrection.

Little did they know the author was right there unpacking his greatest work, joining the dots for them, and showing the journey from what had happened to what had been promised.

They knew he spoke truth and could not deny the conviction that moved them. "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?" (Luke 24:32).

What their physical eyes couldn’t see, the eyes of their heart began to comprehend.

The icing on the cake came as they shared in communion with the risen Christ. It wasn’t actually Jesus teaching Scripture that helped them realise it was him; their eyes were opened in recognition of his presence – their hearts became fully open to his presence when he broke bread.

We can be assured the risen Christ comes into the mess and complexity of real life. Christ is present and active, particularly when it feels as if the opposite is true. Remember, it was the encounter with Jesus that changed their hearts.

So may our hearts be open and, like those two disciples, be burning within us, to encounter him anew.

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