Scripture reading – Luke 24:36-48
This week’s Gospel reading focuses on a conversation among the disciples after they have been joined by two believers who had been travelling on the road to Emmaus and been amazed and delighted to discover that Jesus had journeyed with them. Yet even as they are recounting this miracle, Jesus appears in their midst – startling and frightening them.
I wonder how often we, desiring God’s presence, pleading for God’s guidance, are actually upset and disturbed when our prayers are answered and we encounter God in a way so real, so tangible that we would tell friends later, “I came face to face with God.”
Coming face to face with God can be terrifying – especially when it is unexpected, or our lives are in disorder, or we are carrying around within us some secret shame, some “hidden” sin. Think of Peter still labouring under the burden of having denied his association with Christ, or John’s shame at being unable to stay awake in the garden, or Nathanael’s heartache at not having borne witness to the suffering of his Lord and teacher upon the cross.
Jesus comes into their midst without judgement, speaking words of peace, offering the signs necessary to turn their fear and trembling into joy and amazement, and their joy and amazement into certainty and belief.
A central truth of the Christian life that we often neglect is that every encounter with Jesus places us on the verge of change, invites us into newness.
Often we are looking instead for the presence of God to satisfy an emptiness within us, to bring a little comfort and peace into a difficult day but the God who puts our lives back together does so with the hope and desire that those lives will be lived in a different way.
It is for this reason that Jesus opens the disciples’ minds to the Scriptures: so that they can bear witness, testimony, to the new life that the suffering and resurrection of Christ has made possible.
The Good News that we preach and proclaim over Easter does not stop with Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. The purpose of Jesus’s excruciating suffering is not just that we might claim forgiveness and the assurance of an eternal life in God’s kingdom. We need to fully understand and bear witness to the fact that the resurrected Lord gives us the power and the passion to be different, to turn away from and leave behind those relationships that drain us, those habits that have a hold on us, those mistakes and failures which limit our imagination and rob us of life.
Christ’s resurrection brings us to the brink of change. All things are possible. All ways are open. So, which direction will we choose to walk in? And who do we choose to walk with us?
For further reflection:
- have you ever met God face to face? how did it feel? what did it change?
- how has walking with Jesus made you different?
- are there any areas of your life that need to be brought before God in repentance?