Sunday, September 20, 2009

There is None So Blind

Cleopas had heard the women’s story of the angel who proclaimed that Jesus was alive. But his eyes weren't the ones to see Him. So his heart doubted. And sadness permeated his every step as he and another of Jesus’ disciples undertook a seven-mile trek on the dusty road to Emmaus.

As the pair walked, they inwardly mourned Jesus’ death, talking of their hearts’ disappointment--Jesus wasn’t who they thought He was. As they later said, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Yes, “were hoping.” Past tense. Their faith and hope had been buried right along with Jesus in the tomb.

But then their faith became sight…well, almost: as “ they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (v.15-16, my Italics).

This was the Jesus they had followed so closely, developing such an intimate relationship with Him that surely they knew his mannerisms, the sound of his voice. And now, Jesus was near enough to touch, to smell, to hear, to embrace. But still, they didn’t really see Him.

As they walked, Jesus told His life story: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (v. 27). This wasn’t your usual man-to-man conversation using the fewest words possible. Jesus was teaching the high points of the Old Testament to them. Words they knew. Words they even had likely heard from Jesus’ lips before.

Surely they looked into his face at least once on the journey. And yet, something “prevented” their identification?

In the Greek, the word “prevented” is more accurately defined as “to take hold of, grasp, hold fast” or “to have power over.” In essence, something or someone took control of their eyes so they couldn’t see Jesus clearly.

The Scripture doesn’t say anything about their vision being otherwise impaired. Nothing about them running into trees or having trouble finding a place to stay for the night. It was only Jesus they couldn’t see. As such, the commentaries I’ve read say this was a supernatural covering of their eyes.

But I think there’s a second equally valid interpretation: that their emotional devastation over Jesus’ death was clouding their actual vision. You know…the kind of blindness when disappointment clouds your view of life so you can’t see the blessings right before your eyes? So you can’t see Jesus before standing right before you?

Cleopas and his fellow disciple didn’t mentally understand how Jesus would accomplish salvation for all mankind by laying down His life and dying on a cross. They couldn’t really comprehend His triumph over death. They didn’t expect this kind of Savior.

And in that disappointment, they almost missed “seeing” Jesus entirely. The Scripture even implies that Jesus was just going to continue along down the road without them had they not invited Him to stay: “And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ So He went in to stay with them” (v. 28-29).

But even in blind disappointment, their hearts were still “burning within” them (v. 32). Their hearts knew Jesus even when their eyes did not. And once they invited Him to dine with them, He broke the bread as He had done shortly before His death, and their eyes “opened and they recognized Him” (v. 31).

May we not allow life’s disappointments to cloud our vision such that we miss Jesus standing right before us. And may our own hearts burn within us when we fail to see.

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