THE PICTURE ON THE BOX
"Back and forth they talked.’Didn't we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as He opened up the Scriptures for us?' They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together talking away: 'It's really happened! The Master has been raised up. Simon saw Him!'
"Then the two went over everything that had happened on the road and how they recognised Him when He broke the bread.'" Luke 24:32-34 (The Message).
What a moment for everyone! Jesus was alive! He had shown Himself to them at last! The mystery was solved. All their doubts and disappointment were swallowed up in this unforgettable moment.
Some of them were revelling in their own personal encounter with Him. Others were enjoying the story they were being told. There were too many now, to doubt the truth that He was really alive and that He had really met with them and spoken to them.
All the pieces of this giant puzzle they had been living with for the past three years were falling into place. The picture was crystal clear and they had become convinced believers in an instant. For three years Jesus had been showing them fragments of the puzzle but they had never seen the big picture. How could they believe the whole thing if they had not yet seen it?
As the two trudged along the road back home to Emmaus, they poured out their heavy hearts and dashed hopes like a torrent to the stranger who walked with them. They just did not know how to put it all together. Moses and the Prophets had spread out the pieces. Jesus put them all together for them in that matchless Bible-study-on-the-move!
But the final piece that would complete the puzzle was missing - Jesus Himself. He savoured and kept that piece until they had emptied themselves of all their doubts and misgivings. It had to be so because He could only reveal Himself to them until their false beliefs were all out in the open. It was He, His living presence and His truth that would clear out the lies they had believed and replace their bitter sorrow with joy.
For those disciples, it was a life lesson they never forgot. It was their unwillingness to believe His disclosure about His suffering, death and resurrection, and their insistence that He was dead, that produced their pain and despair, based on a lie. Their interpretation of the events was faulty, no doubt spawned by the father of lies. Only an encounter with Jesus could reveal the truth, change what they believed and replace their pain with joy.
Emotional pain is not something we have to "work through" - which we never really do. It is something that we have to own, and the lies we believe that are producing the pain. The moment we expose our hearts to Jesus, He "shows up" by revealing the truth about the situation, and replacing it with His peace. This is not a long-term process we have to go through but an instant release and exchange which is permanent and maintenance-free as long as we keep the truth in place.
A simple summary: The two disciples believed that Jesus was dead. With His death, all their hopes that He was their Messiah died. The lie they believed produced their painful emotions; grief, disappointment, disillusionment, betrayal, anxiety about their future. They shared their feelings with the stranger who accompanied them. He revealed His identity in a "light-bulb" moment. The revelation of truth set them free from their lies and they exploded into joy!
As with them, so with the other disciples. His presence was enough to convince them that everything He had told them was true because He was alive. And so with us. When we own are pain and the lies that are producing it, Jesus fulfils His ministry outlined in Isaiah 61:1-3 in us. He gives us "beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair." He is the only one who can show is the picture on the box.
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