What a beautiful story is contained in Luke 24, the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus’ friends, grieving and confused after the crucifixion, are met in their sorrow by the risen Lord, who surprises them with joy: “He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
That instant of recognition was not the high point of the story, however. The real gift came before the moment at the table.
As they walked together beforehand, the unrecognized Jesus did something greater than rescue his friends from their grief. By showing them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” he delivered them from their inability to see him for who he truly is.
This is the same gift he gives to us in the length and breadth and depth of his Word, which we can receive as we work through The Story of the Snake Crusher.
The disciples had known a finite, human Jesus, and they presumed he had come with solutions to their finite, human problems. They had put their hope in a Jesus who would rescue them from Roman oppression. They thought of him merely as a Messiah for the Jews: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
But their idea of Jesus was too small, so Christ himself came to show them that he was more than just a friend and teacher, more than just the political savior of Israel.
He was the King of Kings, the conquering Lord, and repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to ALL nations. (v. 47) He was the hope for the world, not just Israel; not merely the wonder-working prophet of Palestine, but the ruler of heaven and earth, the God of eternity.
Today, even though we have all the Scriptures, how often do we need rescue from worshipping a “Jesus” who is less than God? In our Bible reading and study, it can be easy to focus on the New Testament Jesus. We forget that Jesus is also revealed in the Old Testament, in shadows and ancient promises; that he is the God who rules nations and makes war on his enemies. Instead, we can spend more time looking at the Jesus who died to ensure my entrance to Heaven, who offers words of comfort and encouragement to me when I’m struggling—a Jesus who is all about me.
But when we do this, we shrink Jesus to nothing more than “my personal Savior.”
He becomes a token Jesus, to be pulled off the shelf in case of emergency.
This self-centered perspective impoverishes us, and can even strip away our hope. If I worship only a personal Savior, what happens if he does not deliver me from difficult circumstances or suffering? Like the disciples in Luke 24, we can end up in despair when he doesn’t grant us the salvation we expected.
But praise God, he is working to do far more than we can imagine. Instead of a Jesus who exists primarily to rescue me, we have a King of Kings, a Creator who upholds the universe by the word of his power, who is about much greater and more universal things than ensuring my individual salvation: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)
Jesus did not come for me alone; God’s will is not human-centered. Christ came to reveal his glory, to make known his name, to give us something greater to rejoice in than our personal or circumstantial deliverances. Because of this we can receive hope even in our suffering, trusting that it is part of a plan greater than we can comprehend. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1)
We have been given the same gift as the disciples on the road to Emmaus: the presence of Christ in all of his Word. As we seek him, he opens our eyes to all of Scripture so we can be rescued from our self-centered worship, from our failure to honor him for all he is.
As we look for him in the great story of the Bible, I pray we will all be given sight of his glory so that, like the disciples, we “disbelieve for joy and are marveling.”