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Ever Been to Emmaus?

I can't imagine a bleaker point in history than the days between Christ's death and resurrection. If I were with Cleopas and his fellow traveler on the road to Emmaus that first Easter Sunday, they'd probably agree.

I've never been to Emmaus. I couldn't tell you where to find it. It could have been a main road, a bustling place with lots of traffic where people could always be found, but I tend to imagine it on a more quiet scale. A less-traveled road to a backwater village, perhaps. An unlikely place to find Jesus.

Or rather, for Jesus to find them.

Cleopas and his buddy are walking along, discussing the crucifixion of Christ, when who should join them but Christ himself . . . and they don't even recognize him. He asks, "Why the long faces?" They accuse him of being out of touch with the times: "Haven't you heard what just went down in Jerusalem?" He has, but he lets them spell it out for him anyway. Christ likes to hear our hearts, the thoughts we're grappling with, the questions we can't conquer. He is not afraid of our emotions. In fact, he asks for them.

Christ then proceeds to explain what they're missing. Beginning with Moses and running through all the prophets, he teaches them to understand the Messiah in a way they didn't before . . . all while walking beside them. That conversation on the road has two points of significance: one, that after venting what was on their minds, the two travelers needed to hush up and listen to Jesus, to let him teach and show them what they were missing and enhance their understanding as only God can. And two, Jesus walked with them as he taught. He stepped onto their life path—the kind of deliberate, out-of-the-way love that is worthy of every drop of gratitude and devotion we can offer.

Then they reach the village. Jesus is prepared to walk on but the travelers beg him to stay for the night, so he does. He didn't need to make them ask; he could have just stayed and saved them the breath. But walking in Christ is not a passive adventure, and he doesn't want passive interest. If we want his abiding presence in our lives, we can't be content to let any distance come between us. We must actively seek, request, and earnestly desire his presence with us. He will be only too willing to oblige.

They sit down to eat, and Jesus says grace. All at once, their eyes are opened. They recognize him; they know who's been walking beside them all this time. Then he vanishes, leaving them in awe, and they rush back to Jerusalem in that "same hour" to spread the word of what they've seen. Their receptive hearts and earnest hunger for Jesus were blessed with the ultimate revelation—Christ himself revealed to them. If the story stopped there, it would be amazing enough, but it doesn't, because Christ demands more from us. When we humble ourselves to be taught and led by Christ, the moment it all becomes real—when Christ appears to us, so to speak—we have a new job. We need to get to work. To get up and go in the same hour to spread the word that Jesus is alive.

I've never been to Emmaus, but I have been on quiet backroads of my own life, feeling alone, despairing, questioning. Jesus found me there, and whatever your road looks like, he'll find you, too, if you want him.

Keep your eyes peeled and your heart open. He might be the one walking beside you right now, ready to blow your mind and rock your world and change your life forever, and all you have to do is ask.

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