Last Sunday I talked to you about the disciples’ experience after their Lord’s death and his sudden appearance to them as the Risen Savior. They had locked themselves and, by shutting the doors to their room, they set limits to what they believed God could accomplish. For them to change, Jesus had to break through the doors into their room, overcoming the limits to their understanding, and even their faith.
Others, after Good Friday they decided to return to their hometown. For them the story of “Jesus and His love” had come to an end. And they, like the disciples began to adjust to life as best as they thought possible, beginning by returning to their homes.
As they went along the road, they slowly walked away from the pain and sorrow of Jerusalem. And so, step by step, their conversation began to dry up — Silence was their new companion on the road.
Those who have been through a painful loss would understand how they may have felt. First the small talk, jokes, the catching up with seldom seen friends or neighbors, the hugs, the pats on the back until, eventually, all the guests leave. Then the silence hits hard. Not even tears or sobs, just silence – and the memories.
They walked in silence. I can imagine one of them kicking pebbles as they trekked the rugged trail, while the other, with a stick in his hand, waved away sad memories.
The disciples were alone, all by themselves looking at an uncertain and what it looked an unwelcoming future. They left with the sense of a sad story reaching its end. But it was not the end. In fact, their journey turned out to be the beginning of a new and brighter chapter in their lives.
Then, breaking their silence, they began to remember the Scriptures promising a Savior, and what Jesus did, doing good, healing, and bringing people to new wholeness. And as they kept walking recalling the events they had witnessed – the blind man and the servant that was cured. “Ah! The cheek of those who made a hole through the roof to get the sick into the room!” “And do you remember how Jesus put the authorities in their place when they challenged Him,” said the other.
And they were so wrapped up in recalling the stories of Jesus, that without realizing it, the cloud of sorrow and grief began lift. So much so, that when another fellow traveler joined them, they barely noticed, until he asked, “What are you talking about?”
“How come you don’t know what happened in Jerusalem,” they answered. “Yes,” He said. “But wasn’t it written in the Scriptures that God’s love for His Son and for his beloved children would not end with their Messiah’s death?”
And, so as they hiked their way, the stranger began to answer the questions that only a short time ago only drew silence. And once again, their hearts began to warm up, filled with a new grace.
It is over a month since Covid-19 has grounded us. Our bones ache for fellowship and human interaction. On the other hand, our heads ache for too much interaction with a spouse, siblings, children, and pets all crammed together in what it no long ago appeared to be a large home. Space, both physical and metaphorical is hard to find. And even in a crowded home, silence begins to set in – “Oh God! How long?”
In many ways, like the disciples making sure that the door was locked , we often set limits to what God can do. Or, like the disciples on the road, looking at an uncertain and what it appeared to be an unwelcoming future, we forget about Him who promised to be with us until the end of time.
Like them, gripped by their own sorrow, it may be easy for us to ignore the Fellow Traveler, walking and intent in listening to the cries of our souls.
Yes. God listens to our hearts. The Psalmist, recalling God’s mercies, praised Him, “Who listened when I begged for mercy — He listened intently as I laid out my case before him,” (Psalm 116: 1,2).
We are never alone. Even when we feel that no one is by our side, God remains close by, ready to listen, to understand, to love, and to sustain us with his gracious Spirit.
What Jesus told the disciples did not erase their pain or their memories. But our Lord’s soothing voice recalling God’s eternal love and His determination to stick with them, was a balm to their souls, giving them a new hope in their hearts. And so, it will be with you.
You will find Jesus close at hand in the pages of the Scripture, or as you walk around in your home while you are doing your chores, or in the quiet early breakfast before bedlam hits your home. He is always ready to offer His fellowship. Look around, and you’ll find Him, close at hand, the Lover of your soul.
Dear Jesus: You joined your friends in their journey and turned their sorrow into joyful hope. Help me to hear your tender voice calling me to your friendship and, by your Spirit, kindle my faith and hope with the unquenchable flame of your love. Amen.