Worth The Detour
Lk. 24:13-35 recounts the journey of two men on their way home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. For these guys, it had been a long, hard, weekend, watching their hope for rescue die with Jesus on the Cross. Time to pack it in, go home, and get on with their lives the best they could.
In the midst of an intense discussion about Jesus’ arrest and Crucifixion, Jesus came along and asked them what they were talking about. They didn’t recognize Him. One of the guys, Cleopas, responded, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (v.18) – a polite way of asking, “how could you be so out of it not to notice?!”
Instead of taking offense, Jesus humbly asked them “What things?” (v.19a) Imagine the drama and intensity in their voices when they explained the events of the weekend and dashed hopes for having the Messiah in their midst. (v.19b-24).
Then Jesus had the “chutzpah” (nerve) to call them “foolish”, and gave them a comprehensive course on Messianic prophecy! (v.25-27) He hadn’t lost His humility, He actually demonstrated it, by being real with them. We don’t need to be timid about explaining the truth to people when we do it in a loving way to help them (Eph. 4:15). While calling someone “foolish” may not seem loving, when we look at the context, we can see his motive of yearning to encourage them with the truth, and thus renew their hope.
Notice the two men’s gracious offer of hospitality to a fellow-traveler they didn’t even know (v.28-29). They must not have felt insulted by Jesus’ words or manner, since they invited him to spend the night and have dinner with them.
The result? As soon as Jesus prayed, “broke bread”, and began to serve them, their “eyes were opened and they recognized Him…” (v.30-31)… then He “disappeared”! Imagine that! First of all, the host, not the guest, generally said grace and served the food. Unless he was a respected leader. Even then, such a leader might pray but not serve the food. But, instead of causing the men to think less of this stranger, all of this helped them recognize Jesus for Who He was (and is)—our Messiah, the Servant King—not some “strut your stuff”, in-your-face, political or military ruler, like everyone was expecting.
They got it! And when they got it, they understood that the Lord Himself had been working in their hearts to really know Him (v.32).
Which led to action-- “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem…” to tell the disciples and other followers that Jesus really did rise from the dead! As proof, they described how He’d just spent time with them.
Herein lies the key to spiritual growth: Acting, without hesitation, on our knowledge of truth revealed by God. Then, spreading that truth to others to work in their hearts as well.
These men had been traveling all day. They’d finally reached their destination. Why would they get right up and go back to where they’d just come from?! From the account, it looks like they didn’t even finish dinner before they left again (their Jewish mamas must not have been around)!
They decided Jesus was worth the detour, even if it meant totally backtracking. They couldn’t continue to sit comfortably in their home while Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem despaired. Not when Jesus had just entrusted them with the greatest news anyone could hear!
What if they had just carried on with their meal, discussing the finer points of theological doctrine, right after experiencing the risen Lord in their midst (and watching Him disappear)? Then yawning, saying, “Now you see him now you don’t. Wasn’t that a nice show? Let’s hit the hay, it’s getting late.” No way! This was way too huge to sleep on!
How about us? Do we recognize the truly significant things the Lord wants to do in and through us? Are we in tune with Him enough to let His plans supersede ours? Even to the point of backtracking when we’ve already “arrived”? Is He worth it to go out of our way to bring hope to those in despair, help to those in need, healing to the broken? To get up at once and “return to Jerusalem”, when He prompts us to spread the Good News in word and deed?