Chapter 4

The Payoff

Have you ever felt that your quiet time didn’t do you much good as you went out to face the day? That the time and effort you put into spending time in God’s Word and in prayer had no impact on your problems? That your devotional time didn’t really have any importance for the rest of your day, as though the two really had nothing to do with each other? This is called compartmentalization—confining your spiritual life to an exclusive part of the day. But God never intended for us to live this way. He is eager to walk with us, helping us through life’s struggles.

Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, recorded in Luke 24:13-32, contains insights for us about conversing with God throughout the day.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 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 24:13–16).

Little is known outside of this account about the two who walked the path from Jerusalem to Emmaus, but the Bible indicates that they were troubled. They had an internal conflict—an emotional struggle over a disappointing experience—and they were discussing it.

It was in the middle of their sorrow and confusion that Jesus approached them as they walked. “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them” (v. 15). How wonderful! The risen Christ joined them on their journey. He wants to join us as well. Life is a journey and Christ wants to be our constant companion as we walk our own dusty trails. He desires more from us than a conversation at the occasional rest stop.

Acknowledge the road bumps. One of life’s greatest challenges is trying to make sense of the apparent contradictions and setbacks we face. Much of our confusion comes from the fact that we are limited in our perspective; we only have part of the picture. The two people on the road to Emmaus were caught in the middle of this very problem. Not only did they not understand many of the things that had happened, but also the events that had unfolded were contrary to what they had expected. Jesus saw their struggle and helped them address it.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see” (vv. 17–24).

Responding to Christ’s question, the two detailed what was troubling them. Their summary was a concise review of the hope they held that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah who would redeem the nation of Israel. Instead, He had been crucified. Their hopes and the hopes of many others died with Him on the cross. As if their minds were not already reeling, they had heard reports that His tomb was now empty, and several of their friends had received visits and heard messages from angels.

The two, who had walked with the Lord only days before, had soaring hopes. Now, their dreams were shattered. They viewed life—and especially the recent events—through a keyhole. That is what it means to be human. Humans are finite and can only take in part of the picture of any circumstance.These two took what they thought they knew and measured it against what they had experienced, and things didn’t add up. Our experience is just like theirs.

Often what we believe doesn’t make sense from our limited perspective. Whether it’s our disappointed expectations of how God should answer a prayer, or how we view life’s apparent misfortunes, we must remember that we are limited in our understanding.

But Jesus wants us to tell Him our concerns. He is ready to provide a listening ear as we tell Him about all the details, great and small, of our lives. The believer’s unique relationship with Christ allows prayerful communication in the middle of any circumstance.

Let Jesus explain. It must have been devastating for Jesus’ followers to have their hopes and dreams crushed with such seeming finality. But when Christ used the light of the Scriptures to illuminate their experience, they began to get a fresh outlook on their circumstances.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ 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 (vv. 25–27).

Jesus’ response sounds abrupt: “How foolish you are!” The original Greek wording translated “foolish” literally meant “without knowledge.” The two disciples on the road didn’t know the full story.

Jesus provided the only solution to the problem—additional information. The Teacher explained to them, from key passages in the Scriptures, why the events of the last few days should not have been surprising. He enlightened them about how the Messiah must suffer before being glorified.

The lesson for us is that though we struggle with disappointment, we too lack the knowledge that puts everything in perspective and allows us to understand. The Lord may eventually provide the necessary information to help us make sense of our circumstances. But sometimes we won’t get an answer before the coming of Christ in His eternal kingdom. Remaining teachable, sometimes despite our circumstances, and being in regular contact with our Teacher gives our faith and knowledge opportunity to grow.

Await divine activity. Meaningful connection with the risen Christ makes us want to linger with Him. When the two on the road reached their destination, they felt a strong need to stay close to the Savior.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted 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 (vv. 28–29).

The disciples had heard what this stranger had to say for several miles, but they wanted to hear more. “Stay with us,” they insisted.

He joined the two for their evening meal, and the presence of the divine opened the possibility for the supernatural. Including the Lord in the routine affairs of our daily life opens the door for His work in every area of life.

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?” (vv. 30–32).

After Jesus shared and blessed the bread, the disciples’ eyes were opened and they recognized Him. Earlier, “they were kept from recognizing him” (v. 16). But now they saw the stranger’s true identity.

Likely in shock at the sudden revelation and subsequent disappearance of the Lord, the two reflected on what it was like to be walking with Jesus and having Him teach them the Scriptures. Their hearts burned as the Scriptures were explained with divine insight and authority. The same Greek word used for their eyes were “opened” (v. 31) is used to explain how Jesus “opened” the Scriptures to them (v. 32). He penetrated their minds with understanding.

Recognizing Christ in the Scriptures and in our experiences should occur throughout the day rather than being limited to a once-a-day event.

Building a relationship isn’t easy. It requires diligence, discipline, communication, patience, trust, and time. A relationship with God is no exception. The preceding pages were written to give hope, inspiration, and a plan for moving forward with God. Spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. Take your conversation with Him into every part of your daily life. Allow Him to speak to you and take time, often, to speak with Him. As you do, your life with God will develop and deepen; and, as it does, you will find that the results are well worth the effort.


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