“And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem. And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another, as ye walk? And they stood still, looking sad.” (Luke 24:13-17).
All hope vanished from the hearts of Christ’s followers when the spear had pierced His side and the seal had been placed on the tomb. They were plunged into a night of despair. Jesus was dead and buried. The enemies had won, and the believers had lost.
They had followed Him voluntarily and had believed Him to be the Savior of their people. Courageously and faithfully they had proclaimed His name to the people and urged them to repent and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. In the face of mockery and derision they held fast to their faith and witnessed of Him wherever they went.
And now He was gone!
They had followed Him to the very end. They had been so confident that He would perform a miracle and escape from His captors. It didn’t happen. They followed Him not only to Herod and Pilate, but also to Golgotha and the grave. He had lost, and they had been deceived. This was a hard blow for them to receive. They had staked everything on Him, and now He lay in a grave under Roman seal. This was more than enough to crush all hope and to shroud the soul in darkness.
Nor was this all; the enemies are now on their high horse. The deceiver has been liquidated, and those who were duped by Him will have to suffer the consequences. The disciples walk aimlessly about, hopeless and derided, afraid of themselves and afraid of others. The group is divided, and many go into hiding.
One can almost see these poor people in their great frustration. Some of them take to fishing to support themselves as formerly. Long nights they spend with their nets and catch nothing. Everything seems to be bewitched; all their luck is gone. With empty nets they stand, hungry, tired and frightened. There are battles within and enemies without.
It takes real men to suffer so much all at one time. Misfortune follows upon misfortune. Burdens increase while strength decreases. That “troubles come not single spies, but in battalions” is a rule of long standing.
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However, it is precisely to these men that Jesus turns all of His loving attention. He seeks to help them in all possible ways. He comes to them through closed doors. He stands by the seashore at the dawn of the day and calls to these hungry and discouraged fishermen. He prepares food for them, and as a fond mother He urges them to eat.
He walks mile after mile with them to open the Scriptures for them. He bares His side and lovingly invites Thomas to feel His wounds. Peter receives a special greeting, for he was doubtless in the greatest despair. He raises His hands in blessing and tells them not to fear.
What a blessed Savior!
My Lord and my God!
Who can fathom the depth of such love and compassion, or become weary of meditating upon it? Who would own Him as friend and helper without freely worshiping Him as Savior and King?
Is it to be wondered at that they should find Him after such a grave defeat, or that they should find the solution to the whole riddle — namely that He did all this for them? Is it so remarkable that they should give themselves joyfully to such a Savior for the rest of their lives? No king or military might, no cross or pyre, can match the power which grips such a people with such a leader and Savior.
* * *
Today there are many happy and liberated Christians who serve their Savior with joy and gladness. But there are also many discouraged and doubting Christians. The latter were also among the happy band at one time; but now peace and joy have fled, and it seems so impossible to recapture these. They struggle, hope and pray, but everything seems to become worse. Their prayers do not seem to reach the throne of grace, and God’s Word has only messages of judgment for them. They are sore of heart and sick of mind. The heart which was once the seat of joy now trembles under a heavy load. While others are happy and praise God, these can only condemn themselves because they are not happy. Thus new burdens are added to that which was more than enough before.
Why are these things so?
Several answers might be given.
Some people are like Peter. Their courage failed them when they took their place among the enemies of Jesus. They ventured too far in the direction of the world and had too great a confidence in their own strength.
Other slipped gradually into a worldly life. The Bible and prayer chamber were forgotten. The farm, business, or occupation took the place in their hearts which Jesus alone should have had. And thus they drifted away from the Lord and their joy in Him.
Still others are worn down early and late with a ceaseless toil. A number of unruly children with the many attendant duties combine to lay siege against the patience of the parents. In time they reach the breaking point, and a hard and bitter spirit replaces the love of God in their hearts. This is followed by doubt, darkness and discouragement.
And what shall we say of the ruffled nerves which result from long hours of toil in dismal surroundings? Many a Christian feels himself ground to a pulp of darkness and despair.
When such sincere people realize what they have lost they begin to long for these blessings again. A deep desire rises within them to regain what they had, and lost — or think they have lost.
Let the reason for the decline be what it may; the earnest seeker realizes that it is he who is at fault. Doubting Christian: Let it be your comfort that Christ is always the same. He is very close to His discouraged children, though they may seem to be far from Him. He meets them even if they do not understand or realize it.
He speaks peace to you through His Word!
You would see Him and know Him at once if the Scriptures were opened to you, and you would find Him as full of grace as He was the first time you saw Him. Your sin, shame, faithlessness and doubt would be drowned in the comfort that He has to give.
“Come unto Me, ye weary,
And I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus,
Which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction.
Of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that hath no ending,
Of love that cannot cease.
You stumbling Peter and doubting Thomas — all you discouraged Christians: Renew once more your courage and joy in the Lord. You have no reason to be sorrowful and sad; Jesus is greater than all the folly that is in you. Do not bury yourself in your sinful heart and failing life. Behold Him who died for our sins and rose again for our justification.
There is peace for every soul,
Healing balm to make us whole.
There is peace also for you. Lay all your burdens down and have
faith in His name. Why should you carry what He has borne for you?
Breathe. 0 breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit,
Let us find Thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning.
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.
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