Have you ever been disappointed in someone you cared about? Have you ever felt the trust you had in someone leak away like what happens when your styrofoam cup has a tiny hole in the bottom? I suppose that it’s impossible to live relationally in our broken, fallen world without experiencing disappointments and diminished trust in someone at some time.
In so many ways, that is what happened to some of Jesus Christ’s followers when they stood off in the distance and watched (or heard about) Him being crucified. The problem was the gap between their expectations and His real purpose for coming into the world. Their expectations were that He (if He WAS the Messiah) would defeat the power of Rome and set the Jews up as world rulers. At the very least, He would end the servitude to the Roman Empire what was their daily reality. As He bled out on that cross, so did their belief in Him.
That’s why I find the story of two men on the road to Emmaus so riveting. They had been true believers, at least until their hope died with Jesus that Friday. If you had met them on Saturday and brought up the subject of Jesus being the Messiah of Israel, they would have said, “I doubt it.” Let’s be honest: they were beyond disappointed; their whole worldview had just crashed down around them. Their trust and faith had bled out. They were on their way home to pick up the pieces of what life had been before the man named Jesus had started criss-crossing through the countryside, talking about love and forgiveness, then emphasizing His points by doing things like taking away leprosy and making people walk again.
Their faith was gone and their world had crumbled to the point that they didn’t even recognize Jesus when He showed up and asked if He could walk home with Him. They didn’t know Him because He hadn’t done what they expected Him to do!
I have thought much about this, because the church which I pastor will be filled with people this weekend and many of them are probably more filled with doubts than with faith. Why? Just maybe because they thought Jesus would show up and do something about their family problems or their health problems or their social problems and He didn’t do it the way they expected. If a large number of those who will attend Easter services at our church and thousands of others around the world were asked the hard question about Jesus REALLY being God’s Son who came to save us, they would say with Cleopas and his Emmaus road buddy, “I doubt it.”
Lest you think I look upon Easter as a depressing experience when the faithless act pious for a day, that is FAR from the truth. In fact, I shake my head in amazement at what those two men from Emmaus discovered on that original Easter afternoon. It changed their whole lives! That’s why I’m expecting to happen this Easter. Want to know more? Join us this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!