We had hoped!
Do you ever find yourself lamenting the dashed dreams and hopes that you had for the future? Perhaps you had your ministry plans for 2021 all nailed down – this was going to be the year of recovery after the dreadful 2020 covid year. But, somehow or other, it seems that the wheels are already beginning to fall off the bus. Maybe that’s not your experience and 2021 is really sailing for you, and if that is the case I’m thrilled.
But, as we have just reflected upon the events of that first Easter, I’m reminded of the two hapless disciples of Jesus who walked the road towards Emmaus on that resurrection Sunday. As they commiserated with one another, Luke reminds us that the risen Jesus drew near and engaged them in conversation, albeit “they were kept from recognising him” (Lk 24:16). As Jesus quizzed them about the nature of their discussion, they shared their pain and bitter disappointment. They told of how Jesus had been cruelly put to death on a cross, and what is more, they said, “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21). Oh, they had hoped, but now it seemed that all their hopes and dreams had come crashing down!
It strikes me that sometimes we too can feel let down by Jesus. We have it all figured out. We know what he is supposed to be and do for us. For these guys, they had hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel. Like so many, even today, they wanted a Jesus who would be all that they wanted him to be. But he did not seem to have lived up to their hopes and expectations.
But the reality was that hope was there staring them in the face and they didn’t even recognise it – him!
Perhaps it is like this for us also at times. We have developed such a fixed idea in our heads about all that Jesus is supposed to be and do for us, that we fail to recognise his risen presence with us. But Jesus was patient with these dispirited disciples. He took them back to the Scriptures where their eyes were again opened to the truth about all that he was promised to be and do. Finally, then, when sitting down to a meal with them, Luke tells us that their eyes were opened, and they recognised him.
Maybe some of us have been so busy this year and over the Easter season that we have found ourselves still saying all the right things about Jesus, but deep down inside we have felt weary and let down, because this Jesus does not seem to have been coming through for us as we thought he would or should.
It may be time for some of us to take a long, private walk with Jesus, to allow him to reveal himself afresh to us through the Scriptures and to find our hearts once again set ablaze with passion for him who holds all our tomorrows in his hands (Lk 24:32).
Peter Francis (Principal)