A Lesson in Strategic Blindness from the Emmaus Road
"But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him." Luke 24:16
In the course of our lengthy wandering sojourn, I don’t know how many times someone in our family has gotten the prophetic word, “It’s here.”
“It’s here. Your answer is already here. Your promise is already here. The thing you have been waiting on Me for years is now yours…..”
(Anyone besides us ever get those words too?)
So we dutifully say, “Thank you, Lord,” (forced smile in our spirits, of course). Then we look around one more time, see nothing (of course), and one more time say from under our breath within,
And the plodding sojourn continues….until the next such word down the road….like a “broken record”….where the needle just can’t seem to get past the scratch (--if necessary, ask someone over 40 what that means)
If this sounds like you at all, stay tuned for today’s message…..
A Report, a Journey and a Stranger
It is Sunday morning, the third day since the crucifixion. A crowd of disciples has gathered in the upper room in
. Early in the morning, a report has come in that the Lord has “risen.” Evidence shows his body is at least gone if nothing else. But no one knows anything more. And there is no actual proof that the Lord is indeed “risen,” and so no one can believe the report. Jerusalem
Late in the day, around 3 or perhaps 4 PM, two of the disciples take off for a tortuous seven mile rock-strewn walk down to the
where they live. Somewhere in the course of this walk, a “stranger” draws alongside headed in the same direction. You and I know who the Stranger is (we always get to read the last chapter in the book). But they don’t know who the Stranger is. villageof Emmaus
It is here that we read the most important words from this story:
But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Odd, don’t you think, that they were specifically “prevented” from recognizing the Lord? Why could that be? Most importantly, what does it mean for us who, having read the last chapter of their story, have not read the finale of our own?
A conversation ensues. Said the Stranger,
17 "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?"
And they stood still, looking sad. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?"
19 And He said to them, "What things?"
And they said to Him, "The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem
. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see." Israel
Frame of Mind
Before we continue, let’s pay really close attention to the emotional backdrop of this scenario. Understand where these men are at in their hearts and minds. They are at the lowest point of exhausted angst-filled depression anyone can be at in their life.
These men and all the disciples have placed their entire futures and fortunes on the expectation that Jesus of Nazareth is going to deliver them from their wretched misery under Roman tyranny. They have been following this Man for a few years now, beholding absolutely stunning miracles and accomplishments. So they have abandoned everything they have for the cause—their hearts on fire as any hearts can be on fire for a cause.
Now, it’s been less than three days and the life of their One and Only Hero has been snuffed out—just like that. And not “just like that,” but their Hero has been put through the most ignominious, drawn-out, tortuous death a man can pass through—for all of them to watch to the end.
Beneath Bottom on a Journey to Nowhere
If you have never been close to a loved one who dies suddenly and unexpectedly, you won’t understand this. But as soon as that loved one is taken, an immediate and unavoidable set of crushing emotional reactions sets in on those closest to him, and a pressurized clock starts ticking at the same time.
In our culture, there is a window of approximately 72 hours from the time of death to the time of burial that ensues. And in that very short time, unplanned decisions of permanent import must be made by loved ones who have the least mental and emotional capacity to make them. The pressure of the situation is unspeakably immense.
And that is the case for an “ordinary” loved one who suddenly dies of a heart attack or a car crash and is taken as but in a moment of time.
But Jesus Christ was no ordinary loved one, His following was no ordinary following, and His death was no ordinary death. And so now to get the truer emotional picture of the disciples, you must take the “ordinary” emotional and mental incapacity of those first 72 hours and multiply it by everything else Jesus Christ was to these men and what they beheld Him pass through in death. (Go watch the movie “The Passion” if you never have.)
And now you have some more real understanding of the mental and emotional state of the travelers to Emmaus. They are at the bottom as bottom can be. No. They are beneath bottom….
But that’s only where it starts. Because now, not only are they in this utterly depressed state of mind, but these men are now on this difficult 7 mile walk, one that will take them 3 – 4 hours to complete in their frame of mind, and will take them back to nothing but an empty house and the end of their dreams. (When’s the last time you took a seven mile dusty mountainous walk right after a close loved one had died?)
Divine Sight Prevention and Comfortless Rebuke
It is here under these hapless conditions that unknown to the two walkers, the Hero of all their dreams and aspirations appears alongside them! Yes, He is indeed risen! He is there. The very proof is there. He is talking with them. They can see Him.
And yet, they are divinely prevented from recognizing Him.
Why? Why would the Lord do this? He sees them. He knows what they are going through—better than they do. Why doesn’t He rush up to them and say,
“Guys! Here I am! It’s ME! Just as I promised! You don’t need to grieve anymore! Let me give you a big fat hug. I’m here to love you to pieces and make up for all the heart wrenching torture you’ve just passed through. Come and embrace Me now, and just let it out. That’s it. Just let it out……(cry, sob, cry, sob)”
But that’s not what He does. He doesn’t reveal Himself to them. And then, even as the Stranger, He doesn’t add any comfort to them. You would think that even as a disguised stranger he would at least have the decency to say to them,
“Gee guys, I’m really sorry to hear about this! What an awful thing that has happened to you. I truly hurt for you in this. You must be absolutely devastated.”
But oh, no. Instead, their disguised Hero just pours more acid on their already wounded hearts!:
25 And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
What? A rebuke? A rebuke? You’ve got to be kidding. What gaul. What nerve. (As
Ray Ashmoremight say, “That wasn’t nice.”)
And so now what happens is that on the remaining 2 – 3 hours of this hard walk, our disguised Hero is grilling these guys with the scriptures. He’s burning holes and blasting out caverns in their hearts that they have no idea are there. As they later testified to one another,
32 -- "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"
The Ministry to Subconscious Unbelief
But didn’t they believe in Jesus? Hadn’t they followed Him? Hadn’t they all?
Yes—and no. Yes, you’re right. They had believed and followed to the point they were consciously capable. But no, they had not believed or followed in the place that they were subconsciously incapable.
Let me say that one more time:
Emmaus Roaddisciples had believed and followed “the Christ” to the point they were consciously capable. But they had not believed or followed in the place they were subconsciously incapable.
As one man had said earlier to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” That man understood a subterranean truth about himself few will admit to, and he had the lucidity and guts to transparently acknowledge it.
And so, the Lord was ministering to the subconscious realms of unbelief that our friends did not / could not know they had deep within. And in order for Him to minister to that subconscious unbelief, it was imperative that He appear to them veiled, and that He spoke to them the way He did—in rebuke of their subconscious unbelief. (The Lord does that, you know. He did it to Peter. He rebuked Peter’s subconscious unbelief when He said, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Satan lives in our subconscious unbelief.)
Any other action on the Lord’s part would have failed the true saving objective. Any premature revelation or comfort, despite the overbearing weight of their depression, would have not only failed to deliver these disciples of their latent unbelief, but would have preserved that unbelief to become a false foundation under the fulfillment of their hopes and aspirations. (It would have made great antichrists out of them.)
And yet, behind the intensity of this entire scenario, the word of resurrection was still true. Messiah really was risen. As the words to the old song go, “He was there all the time.”
At Nightfall, a New Sight
It is dusk now. The end of the road has come. The travelers have arrived at Emmaus. The Stranger makes as though He will go on without them. And one more test of faith remains. Just one:
Will they—despite their own deep depression, their own exhausted weariness, and the resounding rebuke and correction they have received from the Stranger in their inner most parts—will the two disciples swallow all of it, embrace the words, and invite the Stranger into their innermost sanctum? Or will they just say, “Good night.” Will they just “walk away” by letting Him walk away?
To the credit of the work successfully done in them,
29 -- they urged Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over." So He went in to stay with them.
The Lord’s inner work had not failed. It had succeeded. “They urged Him….” The disciples were ready for more of whatever it took to hear in order to enable them to see what they were prevented from seeing. They came to peace with the Stranger and His purging words in their inner being, and entered into a new fellowship:
30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.
And then, and only then, in that new place of successfully deepened faith and fellowship,
31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
Isn’t this amazing? What did these disciples learn? What do we see? We all learn that when the angels first said to the women, “I am risen,” it was no lie. It was no apparition. It was real. It was physical. It was tangible. The report was true.
In other words, the inability to perceive the reality had nothing to do with the reality. It had to do with the perception. It had to do with strategically withheld perception—withheld by the very Lord who was at the center of the men’s destroyed dreams—at nightfall—at the end of the road.
A New Empowerment!
This story has a really happy ending, and its sequel must not be missed. For as soon as the eyes of the two disciples are opened to behold the fulfillment that had been there all along, they receive an amazing surge of power that enabled them to immediately go back and minister to all the rest:
33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, "The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon." 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
Think of it. Think about the untold emotional depression and physical weariness these men had come to at that very hour of revelation. They had just completed a 3 + hour journey of seven miles by foot down the mountainous terrain surrounding
Now, within an hour of returning home, they are so energized by the physical, tangible revelation of their long awaited and seemingly destroyed desires, they immediately rush back out to head up the mountain to Jerusalem, taking another 2 -3 hours (you can be sure they were walking double time) to return to the Upper Room—14 miles in all (that’s 25 km for you people in Europe and the Commonwealth countries).
The Proof to All
But the story doesn’t even end there. For there right in the midst as the Emmaus disciples are testifying, the Lord Himself shows up in tangible reality to back up their story and to “take over” the scene:
36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be to you." 44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 "You are witnesses of these things. 49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
What the Lord has just done for the Emmaus disciples, he now does for all of the disciples. It is now about 10 PM, and He takes them all through the same scriptures, opening their minds just as He did in Emmaus, showing them all how He came to completely fulfill “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.”
[As an aside to any Messianics reading this, if you can see it, here is the iron-clad scriptural proof from the Lord’s own mouth of what He meant in Mt. 5:18 when He said “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” There is no more of the Law to be fulfilled apart from what the Lord has just said here to the disciples that He already finished or as He said from the cross. “It is finished.” Believe the word!]
And so, the words burned in all the disciples now, as in the Emmaus disciples. Later, all of them were empowered in that same Upper Room to go out. Don’t miss this: The Emmaus Road encounter, with its struggle, its heart burning inward judgment, its new revelation and its fresh empowerment in the night was the prototype for Pentecost. Pentecost is the grand sequel to the
Emmaus Road. And it is the prototype for us in these end times.
What About You and Me?
The real burden of this article though is not to see the significance between Emmaus and Pentecost, or to understand what happened to the Emmaus disciples. It is to show us the prophetic pattern and its burden for you and me in our life long journey—not to mention the church as a whole in this final hour of man-centered history.
In truth, the
Emmaus Roadjourney is the life journey of every one of us that have been waiting and waiting and waiting over a lifetime of prophecies and ruined expectations to see the glory of the fulfillments of what the Lord has otherwise said to each of us prophetically, “It is here. Your answer is already here.”
When the Spirit tells us that our promise is already here and has been fulfilled—whatever that promise is—and yet we do not see it, and we do not see it, and we do not see it, and we keep not seeing it—it is not because the word is false. That promise, that thing, that “whatever-it-is” you were told by the Lord “is here” really “is here.”
The trouble is, you are not being allowed to see it. Your eyes are divinely strategically withheld from seeing it. And the reason your eyes are being withheld is that God can’t show it to you until He finishes unearthing your subconscious unbelief.
Yes, you know you’ve followed God as hard as your little heart knows how. You have been faithful. You have consciously “believed” and “embraced” every word spoken to you. You have acted on those words—to your own repeated hurt—after hurt—after hurt. And now, all the dreams are as dashed as they ever could be. There’s nothing left. And underneath all your depression, you still have to keep up and go through the motions of the journey of life.
You’re on the road back to Emmaus. It’s the road to nowhere—a long dusty mountainous road to nowhere, where you just will go back to life as usual the way it always was before the adventure began, and you resign yourself to just simply die there.
Yet you’ve already heard the voice that says, “It is yours already. You have it. You really do…..” You heard it earlier “in the morning.” You heard it in your own spirit. And maybe you heard it from some other prophet or prophetess who went to the tomb and heard from an angel for you—but who saw nothing either.
But you can’t believe it. Like the Upper Room disciples you wonder if you’re just hearing ghosts anymore. Are you just hearing “what you want to believe?”
No. You’re not hearing what you want to believe. The Lord really did speak. And He has drawn along side you on your road back to nowhere and is still speaking to you “this afternoon.”
“But there’s no evidence. No proof.”
Yes. That’s right. We have no proof, nor the joy that comes with it. Instead, He keeps speaking other words as well saying,
“But you still need more work…. there’s more I have to do in you… the dealings of God are not over for you….. You foolish and slow hearted one!”
“What Lord? No comfort on my already long emotionally devastating journey into believing you? What, more rebuke? More rebuke?? I don’t know how much more of this life of ‘faith’ I can take. I’ve believed for everything, and all I get is more dashed dreams and comfortless rebuke!”
Yes, and you’re still 30 minutes out from Emmaus too—or is it an hour—or two hours still?
“No. I’m at Emmaus now. I’ve reached the end. It is nightfall. The day of hope is over.”
“But will you invite Me in to your inner sanctum? Will you urge me to come in knowing you may just hear more of the same and have more dealt with and exposed you don’t want to face, or will you conveniently walk away by letting me walk on? Will you just say, ‘Good night, Stranger—all the best to You?”
And those are the questions for all of us. We don’t know how far out from Emmaus we really are. And for those of us who have reason to believe we’ve reached Emmaus, the question still remains as to whether we will invite the Lord to stay “the night” in our innermost sanctum.
Everything in this article ties directly to the teaching just shared on the present judgment God has released into our inner midst. The
Emmaus Roadjourney is a journey of internal judgment. It’s a journey where the hearts of disciples “burn within us” under the exposure and merciful rebuke of our subconscious unbelief in the face of the disguised resurrected Answer to all our crushed lifelong aspirations.
I’m speaking especially to saints of my own generation—saints in their 40s and 50s and 60s who have been following out the prophetic course of the Lord for decades with precious little to show for it and are now approaching the end of life as it naturally appears. For many of us, Emmaus is really at hand, and it is nightfall.
We’ve heard the “Yes” and the “Amen” to all those dreams before. We heard the report. Perhaps a prophet or prophetess also brought us a word from the empty tomb long ago, without evidence. And somehow, we still do hear the word, though such words have now become more of a “nuisance” to be shrugged off.
But to us the Stranger is still otherwise speaking rebuke. We’re being judged in refinement of the inner parts. Our subconscious unbelief is still floating to the top as dross. And now thoroughly without hope in the village of nowhere, we’re at that dusky crossroad of whether we will urge Him to stay the night, or let Him go His way—only to miss out on that final place of inner peace and fellowship that will trigger the opening of our eyes to our fulfilled Promise and release to us our empowerment.
And on the Church….
What is true of us individually is true of the prophetic end time church at large. We have heard much, much and more about the coming Pentecost. We’ve heard almost nothing about the Road to Emmaus that precedes it.
Before the day is out, the prophetic church must descend the Road to Emmaus in the face of lost aspirations in this world. All the ministries you see now, you will shortly see them no more. And even now the spirit of judgment has begun to burn and the Voice of Merciful Rebuke has come to many who are already devastated under crushing weights. Yes, the Lord “in whom we have delighted” has come. But He has come as a Stranger to judge our internal being. And who is able to abide this Day of His Coming?
Over the next years and decades, the prophetic church at large will see the crushing of its “kingdom now” hopes under the world system and will despair of seeing them resurrected despite all the past promises of Pentecost to come. Multitudes of disillusioned believers will be making the trip to Emmaus and the spirit of burning will be in full force on what appears to be the church’s road to nowhere.
But in that day the Lord will also be releasing the forerunners from Emmaus who have already made the trip—even the “firstfruits” to realize the tangible fulfillments of their once dead hopes—to go back to “
” and bring the glad tidings. And the Lord Himself will tangibly appear in our midst to set the record straight and give new hope, direction and the promise of empowerment. The Promise of Pentecost will be brought into new perspective as the Internal Emmaus Judgment first gains in strength and force. Jerusalem
To conclude, if you remain frustrated by the time-worn prophecies that “It is here already,” know that your fulfillment truly is here. But also know that your eyes have been withheld from it, and that for more reason than you can consciously imagine. Meanwhile, let the Stranger keep speaking. Accept His rebuke. Accept the heart burn. Embrace the judgment.
And whatever you do, when you reach the end of the road, don’t be slack to invite Him in for the night!
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created Septmber 14, 2010