|From the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Two men silently plodded along the dusty road which ran from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. The younger of the pair would occasionally glance at his partner with a look of expectation. Finally he stopped and glared at the older man. His fellow traveler did not notice his companion had ceased walking and so continued down the path.
“Cleopas! I will not go a step further until you explain to me what has happened these past few days!”
The older man, startled out of his private thoughts, turned and looked at his comrade with a weary gaze. He slowly shook his head and his eyes fell to the ground at his feet. “What is there to say my young friend?” The man shrugged his shoulders as he spoke. A dark cloud of despondency seemed to hang over him. “I do not understand any of this myself. How can I give you an explanation?” “But Cleopas, you had been with him from the beginning. You were among the 70 who were sent out to preach the kingdom of God. If you do not understand what has happened how can anyone understand?”
“Jacob! The eleven do not understand what has happened! How can I, Cleopas, a man of no account, how can I understand something that even the eleven do not know?”
Jacob shook his head and set his jaw. It was a long moment before he replied. “We had such high hopes. And Jesus never did anything to dispel those hopes. Is it possible that he did not understand any of this himself?”
“Ah yes, we had high hopes, that is true. But perhaps our hope was misplaced” said the older man.
Jacob looked at Cleopas sharply. “How can you say that! How can you even suggest that hope in Jesus was misplaced!”
A cheerless smile formed on Cleopas' face. “It seems to me that you are the one who is saying hope in Jesus is misplaced.” He sighed deeply before continuing. “No, you foolish young man I am not saying it was wrong to hope in Jesus. I am merely suggesting that perhaps we misunder-stood his purpose. After all, he always described the kingdom in terms that seemed so different than the military and political kingdom we look for.”
Jacob shook his head again and crossed his arms. “Well, if the kingdom is not political or military then what can it be?” He turned and gazed back toward Jerusalem. “Besides, it is not so much the nature of the kingdom that troubles me this day.” He looked toward his associate once again. “I am uneasy about what has happened this morning. Are we to believe the reports of the women?”
Cleopas was about to reply when, all of a sudden, a stranger appeared, walking toward them. The men looked at the newcomer and then glanced at one another before turning their attention back to the man who seemed to come out of nowhere. There was an uncanny familiarity about the stranger but neither Cleopas nor Jacob recognized him. He came near to where they stood and stopped.
“What kind of conversation is this that you are having with one another as you walk and are sad?” he said.
Jacob scowled and was silent and after a long pause it was Cleopas who replied. “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who is unaware of the things which have happened here these past few days?”
A smile worked at the face of the new comer as he replied. “What things?”
“The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. Are you saying you are not informed about how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him?” Cleopas paused and turned toward Jacob with an incredulous look. It seemed unbelievable to him that anyone within 100 miles of Jerusalem could have failed to hear the news concerning Jesus.
With Cleopas silent, Jacob picked up the narrative. “You see, we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things have happened. Not only that, certain women of our company who arrived at the tomb early this morning, astonished us. They went there to anoint his body, but he was not there! At that point they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said Jesus was alive.”
Cleopas interrupted his companion to conclude the story. “Others who were followers of Jesus went to the tomb afterward and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”
The two men stood and looked at the stranger as he slowly shook his head. Jacob and Cleopas could see a look of frustration in the face of the newcomer.
“Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?”
To be continued.