Her name was Mary. Some historians say she was the wife of Cleopas. The Bible says she was the mother of two sons, Joseph and James. She was a friend of Mary Magdalene. She was a friend of Mary, Jesus’ mother. She was a disciple of Jesus.
This Mary was at the crucifixion. She saw Jesus suffer. She heard him cry out. It is finished. She saw him take his last breath. She went to the tomb early on Sunday morning with burial spices for Jesus’ body. She and the other women wondered how they would roll the heavy stone away from the tomb. She saw the angels standing at the tomb with the stone rolled away. She heard the angel say Jesus was risen. She saw the empty tomb. She ran to tell the others that Jesus was gone. Risen.
He’s risen. But what does that even mean? How does a person die and then come back to life? Where was he if he was suddenly alive again? Why did he leave behind the clothes in the tomb? Where did he go? And angels? How could this even be real?
So Mary and Cleopas packed up and left their friends in Jerusalem. They left for home. On the Sabbath. They had been in town for the Passover celebration. They were witnesses to the horrible events of the weekend that had claimed the life of the man they were following. The man they assumed would be their Savior. Their Messiah. They and their sons were followers of Jesus. But this was too much.
Have you ever noticed? Jesus had a large number of followers who were involved in his life. No. They weren’t part of the group of twelve, but they were disciples. They supported him and his ministry with their own money. Oh. They knew he was a great teacher. They said he was a prophet who performed miracles. They had hoped he was the Messiah. But they didn’t yet believe it.
As Mary and Cleopas walked home after the events of Passover week, they were dazed. Their week of celebrating had ended in tragedy. In defeat. The man they knew as a miracle worker was dead. The man they knew to be a great teacher had been killed. Oh. Mary had seen his empty tomb. She had told Cleopas. But their hearts didn’t really hear the words the angel had spoken. He is risen. He is alive. It wasn’t possible for one to die and then live again. Was it? They heard with their ears, but their hearts didn’t listen. Until they did.
Jesus was the talk of the town during the Passover weekend. Rumors were spreading. Gossipmongers were sharing bits and pieces of the story. Was it fake news or was it real? What was the truth? Was an innocent man put to death? And for what? For saying he was king of the Jews? Oh. There were those who hoped he was the Messiah. But he hadn’t been able to save himself. So how could he be the promised One?
The disciples’ hopes were dashed that weekend. All they had heard. All they had seen Jesus do was gone. Doubt crept in. Who do we trust? What should we believe? Who will now be our Savior? Our Messiah? What now?
Should they just set aside all those experiences they had with Jesus? What did that mean? How do they move forward when the one they followed was dead?
Did the people not understand because their hearts weren’t fully open to the truth? Oh. They had heard the teachings about the coming Messiah. They had been taught how he would suffer, be killed and rise from the dead on the third day. Did they think that would truly happen? In their lifetime? Did they realize prophecy was coming to life before their very eyes? Did they understand that they were part of the resurrection story?
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. John 11:25
Jesus appeared to Mary and Cleopas as they walked the Emmaeus road on that Sabbath. He saw that they were deep in conversation, so he asked to join them. God kept them from recognizing him as they continued down the road. They shared the happenings of the week in bewilderment that this man hadn’t heard the news. But this man shared all the prophesies and teachings about himself as they walked. Still they didn’t recognize him. They didn’t know he was talking about himself. Until they did.
They invited this stranger into their home. The walk had been long and the day felt even longer. They were all tired, hungry and dusty. Stay for a bite. They said. And spend the night. As they sat to eat, the man who had died on the cross just two days earlier broke the bread and gave thanks. Only then were their hearts and eyes opened to the truth. This man was Jesus. The Son of God. He truly was the Messiah. He walked with them. He talked with them. He broke bread in their home. He most certainly was alive.
Only then did they see him for who he really was.
What will it take to make us believe that Jesus really is the Christ? The Son of God? What will open our hearts? What will cause us to see Him for who He really is? Are we so hungry that we’re willing to search for him? Really search until we find Him as the only Lord of our lives? Are we drawn to Him so much that we’re willing to read His word? To seek the truth?
Or. Do we only seek truth through the eyes and lips of others? Do we take the words and teachings of others as truth when we haven’t searched for truth ourselves? Isn’t God’s Word the place of truth? Do the interpretations of others hold weight when we haven’t tested them against God’s word? Who can we trust if we don’t trust God to speak the truth? Why do we tend to believe others over what God’s word says?
What will it take to see the truth? What will it take to have a heart hungry to know the truth? Would we believe if Jesus himself were here in person to speak truth to us? Are our hearts looking for truth?
I have to ask myself. Am I any different from Mary? Oh. I am a believer. I read my Bible. I listen to sermons. I attend a Bible study. I pray. I spend time with other believers. But what truth am I missing? What is God trying to say to me that I don’t hear or understand? Is my heart open to the truth?