I am always amazed at how diverse the English language is, depending on where it is spoken. When I was in England some time ago, I noticed some windows with large posters that read, "BILL STICKERS WILL BE PROSECUTED." I thought, "Who is Bill Stickers, and what has he done?" When I asked someone about it, I discovered (a few laughs later) that "bill stickers" are people who put up posters illegally. Sometimes things get lost in the translation.
That is what happened to the followers of Jesus after His crucifixion. He had spoken to the disciples about His impending death and resurrection — constantly and in great detail. They apparently had missed something in the translation, because when He was crucified, they were devastated. They never anticipated such a thing would happen.
The Bible gives us a snapshot of two such followers who had lost all hope. In their minds, Jesus let them down. Their dreams were destroyed when they saw Him crucified on a Roman cross. They once walked and talked with Jesus. They witnessed His miracles.
But in an instant, all they hoped for was gone. The one called the King of Kings was taken and crowned with thorns. They saw spikes driven through His hands and feet. They hoped for a last-minute miracle. But none came. He was gone. Three days had passed. "That was it," they thought. "We were mislead. Something went wrong."
They heard rumors that Jesus had risen again. Mary Magdalene, who had been to the tomb, said she saw Him personally. Still, they did not believe. They decided to leave town. But every step away from the cross is a step in the wrong direction.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus "drew near" to these two (Luke 24:15). There they were, walking along with the Lord beside them, and they didn't recognize Him. When He asked what they were discussing, they began to tell Jesus about Jesus. "We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel," they lamented. "Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened" (v. 21).
They didn't realize what they were saying. We were hoping that He would deliver Israel, but obviously, He failed in His mission. Their hope was gone.
What did Jesus do to restore it? He took them to the Scriptures. "Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (v. 27). A lot of people today are looking for a "new revelation" from God. If you're looking for revelation, then I would suggest breaking out the Bible and reading it. God wants to speak to you, but He will do it through His Word.
Next, Jesus reminded them of what they already knew. "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" (v. 25). He was essentially telling them, "You need to act on what you already know is true." A lot of us just need to do what we know is right. We know what steps we need to take. We know what things we ought to do. We simply need to do them.
Finally, Jesus didn't agree to stay with them until He had been invited (v. 28). When the invitation came and they began to eat the evening meal, they suddenly recognized Jesus, and He vanished. There He was, suddenly revealed to them. As a result, their hope was rekindled and the fire in their hearts was reignited.
The same things that reignited their hearts on the way to Emmaus can reignite your heart today. But if you think God has failed you, it is time to realize that you have misunderstood God. When you are hurting, you need to run to the cross, not away from it. These followers of Jesus, on the road out of Jerusalem, were trying to get away from what could spiritually influence them for good.
God has not failed you. You simply have misunderstood what He wants to do in your life. He wants to come into your life and help you, but you must invite Him. He can reignite your heart, restore your hope, and get you back on the right path.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!