What happened next? Part 2.
“Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him” Luke 24:31
In the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and His return to The Father, Jesus spends time with the disciples, helping them to process what has happened, and preparing them for the next chapter of their lives. He teaches them about the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit, and He reminds them about their mission now to be witnesses to what they have seen and heard (Acts 1:3-8).
But Jesus knows too that each one of them has some “baggage” that needs to be dealt with, before they will be free to live out this new and exciting chapter. And dealing with this baggage is a crucial moment in whether their lives will go back to “normal” or forever be changed. There are 3 really wonderful moments that happened in those 40 days, where Jesus meets with 3 different people in a personal way: Thomas and Peter and Cleopas.
Firstly, there is Thomas (John 20:24-29), sometimes known as “doubting-Thomas” because he needed to touch Jesus’ wounds to believe that it was truly Him and He was truly alive. The doubt that Thomas carries is preventing him from seeing a way forward. But Jesus meets Thomas in the doubt and lets him touch His wounds, and wonderfully, Thomas believes. I prefer to think of him as “brave-Thomas” because he dares to be honest and allow Jesus to help him, rather than hide. What do we do if we have doubts? Hide them? Try to figure them out on our own? Or do we allow Jesus to help us?
Then there is Peter (John 20:15-19), the disciple who had got it so wrong when he denied knowing Jesus in those days leading up to Jesus’ death. I wonder if Peter was thinking that even if Jesus was alive, would He want anything to do with the disciple who denied knowing Him?! Perhaps the regret that Peter carried was preventing him from seeing a future with Jesus. Perhaps that’s why he had returned to fishing! But Jesus meets Peter in the regret, and forgives and restores him. And Peter leaves his fishing and goes on to do exactly what Jesus called him to do! Do we have regrets? Are we willing to hear Jesus’ words of restoration over us? Are we willing to let Him forgive us?
And finally, there is Cleopas (Luke 24:13-35). Cleopas and another disciple were there at the crucifixion of Jesus and had heard the reports from the women that Jesus was risen, but their response was to walk away from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. They were walking away from the other disciples, away from the city where it had all happened, away from the place where the women had said they had seen Jesus. Why? Fear? Despair? Unbelief? We don’t know; but given what we know to be true about Jesus, walking away from Jerusalem seems like the wrong way to go! But Jesus walks with them. He doesn’t wait for them to come back to Jerusalem, and nor does He tell them to turn around. He simply walks with them until they understand. Then they turn around and return to Jerusalem. Are we walking away from where we need to be? Do we need the reassurance that Jesus will keep walking with us, even if it is the wrong way?
There was a whole lot of baggage that needed to be dealt with if the disciples were going to live in the light of Jesus’ resurrection: confusion, doubt, regret, fear, despair, unbelief. Jesus meets each one of these people in the raw and honest reaction to His death and resurrection. And crucially, He doesn’t leave them there. He takes them to a place of recognition, belief, and restoration. And from there, wonderful things happen. In fact, it’s because of these moments that the early church began and we know about Jesus today! I wonder what baggage we might be holding? I wonder what would happen if we were honest with Him? I wonder what wonderful things might happen if we allow Him to help us? Will we just go back to “normal” or shall we dare to find out?
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are ready to deal with our “baggage”. Lord, we want to believe, and we want to live our lives in the light of your resurrection, help us to do so. Amen.
Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash