We have all in different seasons had heavy hearts, been downtrodden, barely able to put one foot before the other. We have felt hopeless. That’s how two of the disciples felt when they were traveling on a dusty road to a village called Emmaus (Luke 24:13-24). They were talking with each other; they were grieving and felt hopeless. “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:15-16). As Christ followers, even when we don’t recognize His presence, Jesus is with us. And we are taught in Scripture that when we gather together in His name, He is there with us (Matt. 18:20).
Several things struck me this morning as I read Luke 24:13-24. First, these disciples did not go off by themselves to lick their wounds, in a state of depression. Instead, they were together. I don’t know about you, but when I am feeling down, I turn inward and don’t seek the company of others. Scripture plainly tells us to gather together with other believers to spur one another on. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
And then after they told Jesus about their troubles (Luke 24:17-24), He shared the truth with them. “He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on 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 24:25-29) They were comforted by His words, His demeanor and they wanted to spend more time with Him; they were encouraged!
And then they discovered the reason for their encouragement: “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, and He disappeared from their sight. They 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 24:25-29) In spending time with the Lord and each other, they were able to trade their heartache for holy heartburn. They felt attended to in their despair by the Lord. He wants to do that for each of us.
And then these disciples did what we are all called to do: they shared the hope He gave them. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread.” (Luke 24:33-35)
Whatever trials we go through, the Lord will use for His glory. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Sharing what we learn in Christ with others is our calling as Christ followers, and we all have unique experiences. While our hearts burn for the Lord, let’s encourage others. That is love in action. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13) Who will you share hope with today?