Is Jesus a Stranger?

On Easter afternoon Simon and Cleopas were walking the 8 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. You would think it would have been different after the events of that day. You’d think they’d be happy with the news of the morning, yet they were discouraged. Jesus had appeared to the women and others who had been completely defeated by this death. So he came up alongside the men and asked what was going on and why they were so down. One of them looked at him and said art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem.

Jesus has never let us down. Even though our feelings change like the weather, Jesus does not.

Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

It was a happy time for those who saw Jesus that Easter morning. If the men had come with the women they would have seen him too. But the women received wonderful news and went to tell the disciples. Then, later on that day, in spite of this news and what Peter and John said, these men were discouraged.

The disciples ate and slept with Jesus for three years. It’s one thing to say Jesus is with us every step of the way but another to believe it. Good or bad times, Jesus is as much alive in one as the other. He’s as much Jesus now as then. He’s with us and never forsakes us. He never fails us. If there is any failure, it’s on our own part.

Simon and Cleopas decided to leave the other followers and Jerusalem. They saw how Jesus had suffered and died. In spite of the news they were down. They walked as if Jesus was not there anymore. It doesn’t matter what the world tries to do to Jesus, they can’t hurt him. Jesus is faithful. Even though he had not bodily appeared to all of them he was still with them.

What we face today is complicated. The devil and his workers of evil, along with the unsaved who make Christians their enemies, are on us. We sometimes get like Simon and Cleopas. We look around and don’t see Jesus. We look at the empty tomb and don’t see him and get discouraged. Discouragement is contagious. It’s not easy to trust when we can’t see him, but we have to. Who else can we trust? Jesus said he was the way and would be with us always even to the end of the world.

The Emmaus disciples didn’t know what would happen. The bottom had fallen out and their world was crashing down on them. They knew the Sanhedrin was rejoicing because they finally got rid of Jesus. They had tortured and killed him by nailing him to a cross. His cries from the cross sounded like defeat to the rulers. There was no blood left and he cried “it is finished; into thy hands I commit my spirit.” They were happy. They sealed the tomb and put guards by it. He was dead and buried behind a great big stone. He’s wasn’t “6 feet under”. He was more like 12 feet under behind that stone.

The Romans still prevailed. They still occupied the land. Pilate still ruled. The tomb was sealed and as far as they thought Jesus was dead, buried and broken. Let the world try to kill Jesus and bring him down. He’s still alive! He died bodily; he laid down this earthly body. But he did not let go of his immortal being. You cannot kill God. You cannot kill the Bible. You cannot kill Jesus. Nothing can harm us. Keep your faith in Jesus Christ.

The Emmaus disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. Why did he do it this way? Was he rubbing it in? He asked what was going on. Sometimes does he say to us “what kind of talk is that?” Do we act like Jesus is not worth trusting? Why didn’t they recognize him? The women did. When he said “all hail” (“all joy”) they knew it was him. Faith is only faith when it is tested and used. The women saw and believed. Jesus was testing these men. He hid his identity to test their faith. Why do we have to see to believe? Why does it have to go just right before we believe? Never put that condition on things. We were saved by grace through faith. Has Jesus got sick or old and unable to do what he used to do? Just because we age doesn’t mean Jesus does. When the disciples saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration they didn’t see an old, nodding off man. He is ageless. We will have a glorified body one day and forever be because God is forever.

How we imagine God is wrong. Let hardships come and we blame the Lord. Just because we can’t see him doesn’t mean he’s not there. If they had just looked around they would have known Jesus was there all the time. They called him a stranger in Jerusalem. He’s the best friend we’ll ever have. Who showed us mercy even before we were saved? Jesus. He literally saved my life a time or two. And though we were yet sinners he died for us. He arose for us. He lives for us.

Don’t call him a stranger. Don’t say what Mary and Martha did when Lazarus died:  ‘Lord, if you’d been here.” What an insult! Jesus is there every step of the way. We can’t be two places at one time but Jesus can be all places at one time. Talk to Lazarus. Talk to Mary and Martha. They’ll tell you Jesus was with them. You’re a winner either way. They had to start using their faith. Jesus had said he was the living bread, he was the living water, he was the resurrection and the life. They needed to put their faith in that, in him.

Jesus went away to prepare a place for us but said he wouldn’t leave us comfortless. He’s God. You aren’t. I’m not. There is no one to trust but Jesus. Start using your faith. Trust in Jesus alone. We need faith all the time. The Bible is all we need as evidence. Don’t rely on what you see or what you fail to see. Watch fear and discouragement. Trust him! He won’t let you down. Don’t fail to go on even if you see no reason to. Jesus is still around. He’s still the same in any state we’re in. Paul said Jesus was the same in whatever state we find ourselves. Jesus is still here though we fail to see a trace of him. There is evidence he’s here. We might not see him in our sight but we always see him in hindsight. When we look back on our lives we see where he was working even when we didn’t see him. Let’s trust the Lord today as if we have looked back and seen him. Jesus is with us now!

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