Not alone in the ‘long hall’Top Highlights, Where's the Faith? Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
Every hospital has one hallway that seems seven miles long. I’ve been to many hospitals and even though hospitals don’t all look alike, they all look like hospitals – and every one of them has one corridor that seems like its seven miles long.
It doesn’t matter how long the hallway actually is. It doesn’t matter if it’s daylight, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of patients, family and staff, or in the middle of the night when it’s eerily quiet.
There is a story in the book of Acts that talks about a road (see Luke 24:13-35). The road from Emmaus to Jerusalem is seven miles long. Cleopas and his companion are walking that long road, walking in shock and bewilderment. Trying to make sense of it all. They’re talking of the past few days, of loss and hope and mystery and confusion.
Disappointment, doubt, disillusionment, defeat, discouragement, despair and death – all of these words sum up how Cleopas and his companion were feeling as they trudged up the road toward Emmaus. They had just left the downhearted and confused band of disciples who were afraid and bewildered over what had happened to Jesus on Good Friday.
The One they had loved and followed had been horribly put to death, a cruel and degrading death on a cross. Jesus had been made a public spectacle, exposed to the jeers of all who passed by. Only a week before, their hopes had risen to fever pitch when the excited crowds welcomed their Teacher waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna.”
But now Jesus was dead. Their hopes were dashed, the dream was over! Even the report of the women that Jesus’ tomb was empty didn’t raise their spirits; it only confused them even more.
Human hope is a powerful thing, yet, a fragile thing, and when it withers, it’s difficult to revive. “We had hoped …” Cleopas and his friend had said. They were saying, “We don’t expect it now, but once we did. We had high hopes for the future, but now those hopes are gone and all we have left is disappointment.”
As the two walked along, they realize they are not alone. The stranger asked them what they were discussing. And, so they poured out their story to someone who seemed willing to listen. They tell the stranger all about their hopes and their disappointments. He simply provided a listening ear.
We know that the stranger was Jesus, but they didn’t. It’s a wonderful image, Jesus walking along the road with his despondent and confused disciples sharing their troubles.
The two disciples asked the stranger to stay with them for the night, and Jesus stayed with them. At the evening meal he, “took the bread, and gave thanks for it; then he broke the bread and gave it to them.” Suddenly, it dawned on them who the stranger was. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
The road to Emmaus is a story about ordinary despair, and ordinary, Monday-morning drudgery. It’s a story about meeting a stranger, hearing his words of comfort, sitting down at a table and sharing a meal. It enables us to see that the risen Christ gives hope and joy, when all we see is disappointment, discouragement and despair. It enables us to see the world around us through eyes of faith and victory.
When our Emmaus road is filled with discouragement and despair, let’s walk it with Jesus. Walking with Jesus, our road will become a great highway of companionship, conversation, belief, new life and hope.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org
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