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The Emmaus Experience

If you’ve never experienced bone–crushing disappointment and confusion, just keep living. Perhaps it’s the death of a loved one, or the friend you counted on who let you down. It is the spouse who cheated with your best friend, or the position you knew would be yours being given to someone else that has crushed you like a tsunami smashing into your life.

In moments like these you begin to look seriously for meaning in life, and you wonder: What have I been doing all of this time? Have I wasted my time putting so much stock in this person? Or: Why did I put so much confidence in this situation?

A day like that came for Christ’s disciples. In one weekend they watched their Master die in a most dramatic crucifixion and then be put to rest in a tomb. All of their hopes died with Him whom they believed to be the Messiah. Now, while walking along the seven-mile road to Emmaus, two of these bewildered disciples relived the horrific scenes of the trial and crucifixion. It was one of the saddest days of their lives. Never before had they been so utterly disheartened. Hopeless and faithless, they walked in the shadow of the cross.


As they made their journey, going over and over what had happened, Jesus came up and joined them. They were so overwhelmed with grief and gloom that they did not recognize that this Stranger was the risen Lord. Is it possible that in our own lives there have been times that we too have been so overtaken by our own gloom and despair that we didn’t even recognize the ever-presence of a God who said He would never leave us or forsake us? Let me remind you what the Bible says: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, HCSB).* “I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you” (Isaiah 43:2, HCSB).

As Jesus walked with them, He longed to comfort them. He had seen their grief. He understood their conflicted and perplexing thoughts. How could this have happened? When things happen that we don’t understand, we are faced with questions as well, such as Why me, Lord? Why do I have to go through this pain? When will it ever stop?

Remember, God knows and He cares. As 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you” (HCSB). First Corinthians 10:13 tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it” (HCSB).


Jesus longed to reveal Himself to them; however, there was a greater lesson they had to learn first, and it is a lesson we must learn as well.

“Beginning at Moses, the very Alpha of Bible history, Christ expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Had He first made Himself known to them, their hearts would have been satisfied. In the fullness of their joy they would have hungered for nothing more. But it was necessary for them to understand the witness borne to Him by the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Upon these their faith must be established. Christ performed no miracle to convince them, but it was His first work to explain the Scriptures. They had looked upon His death as the destruction of all of their hopes. Now He showed from the prophets that this was the very strongest evidence for their faith” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 796).

The lesson we must learn is to take God at His word. The Bible must become the standard by which we live, for the Bible declares itself to be inspired by God. Second Peter 1:20, 21 states: “First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Second Timothy 3:16 states: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” According to Psalm 119:130, “the entrance of Your words gives light.”

In your hour of pain, loss, or bitter disappointment, God wants not only to walk by your side, but also to fasten your mind on His promises. He wants not just to comfort you with His presence, but also to help you understand from His Word His purpose for your life.

Once the Word was opened to them, they saw and recognized Jesus. “And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’ ” (Luke 24:32).

The next time you face confusion, disappointment, and despair, may it be the same for you as it was for them.

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