They were at the end of themselves. Their one hope had died. And their journey along the road to Emmaus was a grief-laden trip full of questions, doubt and pain.
“We had hoped” are surely some of the saddest words in the cannon. That they had pinned their hopes and futures on something seemingly fleeting.
As Packer writes:
“The heartbreaking perplexity of God-given hopes apparently wrecked by God-ordained circumstances is a reality for many Christians today, and will be the experience of more tomorrow – just as it was for Joseph, and for the Emmaus disciples.”
On their darkest journey came a new beginning – for them and for us.
Jesus did not appear to them in a flash of lightning and a blaze of glory.
He appeared in the same way he had spent much of his ministry. Opening the scriptures and walking alongside friends. He allowed Cleopas to open his heart and his pain and as Jesus broke bread with them and shared with them, they found who had they had been grieving.
“I am convinced that when we bring our griefs and sorrows within the story of God’s own grief and sorrow, and allow them to be held there, God is able to bring healing to us ans new possibilities to our lives. ”
Easter tells us that God loves us enough not just to enter our story and walk in our shoes, but that He is greater than the pain of death. Easter tells us that Jesus did not just come to be our friend, He came to defeat death as our King.
Jesus’ crucifixion did not just enter into our pain, it defeated it. And with His defeat of death comes a new, undying hope.
The loss of hope is not the end of the story, because we are Easter people, we live the story that Jesus lived and so we can grasp His hope.
Cleopas and his friend did not just encounter the risen Lord Jesus, they encountered the resurrection of their hope that dawn always follows the night, however long it may be, and that dawn will one day rule.
Even resurrection was not the end of the story, but it’s the promise of the future in the flesh. Jesus’ resurrection points us to the promise of Revelation 21:4 in the MSG
“They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.”
Whatever today and tomorrow brings, whether it be joy or tears or the glorious muddy mixture of both, we can hold fast to the knowledge that Jesus walked before us, that He beat death and that He will come again to make all things new.
We are an Easter people.