I love taking road trips. There is something about being on the open road that is very freeing. One can leave the frustrations of life behind for a short while and be open to thinking about the more important things in life that are so often hidden behind a big pile of routine activities, pressing commitments, and worries or concerns that are currently clogging up our lives. It’s also a chance to take in the beauty that surrounds us that we so often miss in the daily grind of life.
This week is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. The Jewish holiday of Passover is part of this week, too, and it derives its name from the last of ten plagues that struck the Egyptians in the book of Exodus (see Exodus 12) in which the firstborn of every Egyptian family was killed as well as the firstborn of Egyptian animals when the Angel of Death visited Egypt and “passed over” Hebrew homes, which had been marked with lambs’ blood on the doorposts (see source here for explanation of all ten plagues and the story behind them). It was this tenth plague that finally freed the Jewish people from 430 years of slavery under Egyptian rule. The significance of the Passover being at this time of year–between Palm Sunday which is the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; His crucifixion on Good Friday culminating with His resurrection on Easter Sunday morning (e.g., the first day of the week) cannot be overlooked. Jesus Christ was (and is) the perfect Lamb of God, who was slain on the cross at Calvary as the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and rose again on the third day (commemorated on Easter Sunday each year). More information on how Jesus fulfilled the Passover can be found at this link.
Let’s fast forward a few days to Sunday morning and pick up the story on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection in Luke 24:1-12:
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Notice that they did not believe what the women had told them because what they said appeared to be nonsense to them. Only Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see if what they said was really true, and when he saw that it was, he wondered what exactly had happened.
It was that very same day that two of them were traveling on the road to Emmaus when Jesus came up to them and started talked with them, but they did not recognize Him. Let’s pick up the story from Luke 24:13-35:
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.
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 the only one visiting Jerusalem who does 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 they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah 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.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on 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.
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?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
As I read this story, I wondered how many times do we miss Jesus in the midst of all of our daily routines and activities whether they are work related or church related; leisure related or we’re busy building a career; or looking for love or finding someone to marry or going through the devastation of divorce; or raising a family or watching as family relationships slowly or not so slowly deteriorate; or building a business or watching as it dies in bankruptcy; constantly running to and fro–busy, busy, busy–following the throngs like everybody else running to and fro–busy, busy, busy. And the question again is, how many times do we miss Jesus in the midst of all of that activity?
Jesus came to give us life and to keep us free from endlessly pursuing a huge collection of “stuff” in things or people that we think will give us life. Even the richest person on the planet who has everything imaginable at his or her disposal will die (often from a health destroying disease caused from the stress of trying to keep all that stuff), and all that rushing around accumulating all that “stuff” will die with him or her and go to someone else who will die pursuing the same meaningless end.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Ask yourself what it is that is eating away at your life and destroying you. And is it that important in your life that you won’t let go of it? You don’t have to let go, but the consequences will be staggering someday (and maybe sooner than later).
Jesus died to set us free–free from the trap of accumulating money and things and people; free from the need for power and prestige and control; free from selfishness and self serving ways and frantically pursuing a lifestyle that we think will bring us happiness but that only ends in death, both physical and eternal. This world is not as it appears on the surface . . . it’s a battleground (see Eph. 6:10-18). We are in a war . . . .
If you’re caught up in the vicious cycle of “more, more, more” and haven’t got a clue where it will all end, I challenge you to take some time this Easter Sunday, when Jesus rose from the grave to give us new life, and get alone and meet with Him. Take a drive out in the country, or go sit by a lake or a field or someplace far from all the activity of your normal, daily life if only for an hour or so. And take your Bible with you, and ask Him what He would have you to know about Him, and what He really wants for your life. You might be surprised at the answer. And don’t miss Him because of the unbelief in others or the status quo that surrounds your daily life and routine. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Trust Him . . . . He can and will guide you safely through the maze if you let Him have total control.
Will you let Him have control?
YouTube Video: “Jesus Saves/Easter Song” sung by Northland Church Worship Team, April 12, 2009: