THEY RECOGNISED HIM
"They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if He were going on but they pressed Him: 'Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done.' So He went in with them. Here is what happened. He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, He blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognised Him. And then He disappeared." Luke 24:28-31 (The Message).
'He blessed and broke and gave it to them.' Sound familiar? This was another trigger for these disciples. Jesus had probably done this hundreds of times during the course of His association with them. Many more than the inner Twelve followed Him around and no doubt He had shared many a meal with them. This was the first clue to the identity of the stranger who had accompanied them on their journey home.
Peter had his own triggers which brought back both painful and precious memories: The crowing of a rooster would always remind him of his terrible failure, and a coal fire of his Master's gracious forgiveness. For these disciples it was the simple gesture of blessing and breaking the bread.
Perhaps they were not in the Upper Room at His last Passover meal when He formally established a new covenant with them. They were not part of the inner circle but it was a familiar action, nevertheless. And who could miss the wounds in His hands which had, up to this point, been hidden?
It was those nail-prints which clinched it for them. No one could go through that ordeal and come out alive, with Roman soldiers on guard to make sure that every execution was carried out to the death. Their fuzzy, grief-soaked minds were suddenly cleared and they saw Him and recognised Him. Strange that it was His hands, not His face or His voice that finally convinced them.
Jesus must have enjoyed that moment! He has been on the road with them for a while, walking alongside them, listening to them, and talking to them but they were blind and deaf to all the familiar things about Him? Why? Was it because their disappointed expectation blinded them to His identity and His intention?
That's how it often is with us too. Our expectations of God are either too low or too tied to our circumstances to allow us to recognise Him with us. We are in a tough spot and God seems silent or absent. We pray and nothing happens. Times get tougher and doubts and fears increase. Everything looks dark and hopeless. We have high hopes and they die when Jesus does not show up.
These are not intended to be faith-killing but faith-building moments. Faith does not grow when everything goes our way. Faith grows when there is nothing happening and we have to stake ourselves on God's faithfulness. Satan comes in these times to call God's character into question, like he did with Eve, because he desperately wants to discredit God so that we will mistrust Him.
But there is inexpressible joy awaiting us when Jesus shows us that He has been there all the time, putting everything in place to answer our cry. What an awesome moment when He reveals Himself and we know that our trust was worth it all! Even if everything seems dark and hopeless to you right now, won't you trust Him? At the right moment He will show you that He has been there all the time and His plans for you are good.
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