I loomed over my children in the shadowed hallway between their bedrooms. Each sat or lay in their doorway, blankets wrapped around their small shoulders. The youngest, at 5, listened while tracking feet and toes up and down the doorframe. The older two motionlessly followed my gestures as I pretended to walk with eyes cast down and arms clasped behind my back. “Imagine how those disciples felt,” I said, reinforcing the picture for them, “as they traveled to Emmaus. They didn’t believe the women who reported seeing an angel and Christ’s empty tomb. They thought the women were talking nonsense. They were so sad . . . they missed Jesus.”
It was Friday evening, after family worship, and three little girls were supposed to be in bed with eyes shut. But rest wasn’t coming easily, so their request for a story was granted.
My children like to listen to stories. Their favorites are Bible stories—especially the ones with Jesus. I try to show them the stories by giving them examples they can comprehend. Or by acting out some situations. Or asking them to imagine themselves in the story and how they’d react. This approach makes telling a simple story a rather long and not-so-simple process. A lot of questions get asked—some pertinent, some not.
We had talked about the women meeting the angel; about why the women would put stuff on a dead body; about what Jesus might have been wearing . . . they also asked this important question: “Why didn’t the others believe the women?”
“In their sadness,” I replied, “they had doubt.”
I shrugged and started up again, describing the long trip the pair was beginning. I talked about how they probably shook their head at each other as they discussed the events of the weekend thus far. Then I got to Jesus meeting up with them—and the fact that they didn’t know it was Jesus. And that they probably walked for a couple hours, even inviting Him to eat with them once they arrived at their destination.
“What?” came from my 10-year-old. “How could they not know it was Jesus? Weren’t they friends? Didn’t He tell them what would happen?”
“In missing Jesus, they missed Jesus.”
While God is always with us, while the Holy Spirit is an ever-present comfort, we are separated from our Creator and Lord. Sin clouds our vision and dims our ability to recognize the Savior. Even when He comes calling.
This isn’t by accident.
Each person longs for the reestablishment of the close bond the first humans had with the Creator. Sin-sick souls want the Spirit’s elixir. All the while we struggle with our sinful tendencies, and even as we may revel in the depravity the devil feeds us, the beacon in our hearts lights for God. We humans are such a mixed bag! Within the unnatural dichotomy of our fallen humanity—we search and miss Jesus. We long for Him, we pine for Him, and yet we miss Him.
And unless we make prayer and Bible study a top priority, unless we make living His Word a priority, we will mistake someone or something for Jesus that isn’t.
As incredulous as it seems to my children, it is true. As Jesus’ friends did, in missing Jesus we miss Jesus.
Read Luke 24. Search the Scriptures, read and reread them. So that, as our resurrected Savior walks along with us, the shutters of sorrow and doubt, of fear and anger and sin, fall away. And we see Jesus.