Is the Journey Necessary?
You can keep your laptops, your combo PDA-cell phones, and your flat screen TVs. I have discovered the joy of a slow cooker. We have always owned a crock pot -- a little one that was a gift when we got married. We have never used it much. A couple of weeks ago we bought a larger one. This morning I threw in potatoes, carrots, a sweet onion, a little garlic, beef broth and a chuck roast. I came home this evening, and the whole house smelled wonderful. Dinner was terrific. I have decided to marry the slow cooker (becoming a polygamist) so that S and I can have a housewife. Now if I can only teach it to clean the kitchen.
Anyway, appliance-gushing aside, I ran across this post today on a blog called "Pondering Perfection." Joe asks this question:
I wonder why Jesus didn't tell the disciples in the beginning of the journey on the road to Emmaus that he was who He was. Why do you think he waited to "reveal" himself?
I re-read the scripture (Luke 24:13-35; The Message), and I don't have an easy answer. I do have some impressions -- images that dance through my head when I read the scripture. Some are supported Biblically; some are only imagination:
- First, I picture the two disciples as Cleopas and his wife. I could give you my reasoning for this, but it really isn't important to the discussion.
- They are in distress. The Message says, "They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend." They are in mourning, grief-stricken, and not paying much attention to anything except their own soul-deep sadness. They think their dream has died. They don't understand what has happened. They don't believe what the women have told them concerning the empty tomb. They are lost. Maybe they don't recognize Jesus because they just don't really look at him. Mary didn't recognize him either -- maybe the reason for this is the same here?
- The NIV version says, "they were kept from recognizing him." Compare that to The Message version, "they were not able to recognize who he was." The Message version sounds more passive than the NIV version. I think the difference between these two phrases impacts the answer to the original question. Did Jesus prevent them from recognizing him? Or did they just not recognize him? If Jesus actively prevented their knowing him, then what was his motivation? Could it be that the walk itself, and the conversation they had was necessary? Perhaps if they had seen him for who he was at the beginning of the journey, the journey itself would not have taken place.
- If the journey and conversation were necessary, then what was necessary about them? They walk together and tell him what has happened. He points out to them their disbelief, and then goes on to "explain to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (NIV). Could it be that this was necessary for their subsequent faith? Looking at the bigger picture, is the journey necessary for us? Maybe sometimes we just won't get where we need to be in our faith without the journey.
- I picture the three of them together at dinner, and Jesus breaking the bread. I wish I knew enough about the culture of the time to know whether it was tradition for the guest to do this, or for the host. I love the image of them finally knowing who he is once he breaks the bread. I don't think Cleopas was present at the last supper, but he obviously knew Jesus, and has perhaps seen him break bread before. I like the larger image here, as well. It is in the breaking of the bread -- in communion -- that we recognize Jesus.
- After he disappears, they look back and realize that "their hearts had been burning" as he spoke to them. He had "opened the scriptures" to them. Apparently the journey was important.
- What do they do next? They go back to where they started, new in faith, convinced in Resurrection, and they tell the rest of the disciples what had happened -- sharing their faith. Good lesson there, too.
Go back and look at the picture at the beginning of the post. Do you see the moon? Not what is expected on a clear, bright day. Maybe you saw it right off, but sometimes it takes a closer look, a pointing finger, or a long conversation to see what we don't expect to see. Maybe it takes a journey to reach faith.