What’s more important than Jesus? The obvious answer here is: Nothing. Right?
But shortly after the resurrection, we read a story that might make us think a bit more about our response. The women had told the disciples about finding the empty tomb, and the words of the angel. But when a few of the men arrived at the tomb, there was nothing. No angel. No bright lights. Nothing. They were confused, disappointed, and a bit saddened.
As they walked to the nearby town of Emmaus, they were joined by another man. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing..” that it was Jesus. He knew they were down, and yet the number one priority for Jesus in that moment was NOT to reveal His presence was with them. There was something more important than Jesus simply walking along the road with them. But what?
He asks them why they’re down, and they can’t believe this man’s question. Has he been under a rock for the past week? Surely everyone would know what was going on. He responds to them by explaining that it was necessary for the “Messiah to suffer these things and then enter into his glory…
…then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” – Luke 24:27
Jesus knew that he could change their sadness into celebration in an instant, simply be revealing who he was. But that wasn’t the top priority. He wasn’t walking along-side them simply that they would know he was walking along-side them. His number one priority was to reveal not only Himself, but the purposes God was actively moving to accomplish – and HAD BEEN moving to accomplish throughout all of history! Jesus wasn’t simply an idea God finally came up with about 2,000 years ago. The purposes and activity we see being fulfilled in Christ are the same that God is moving toward way before then – and continues to be moving toward and through even today!
Later, when they break bread together, “their eyes were opened”. As soon as they recognized him, he vanished from their sight.
In a similar vein, Jesus hasn’t offered us his presence, simply for us to cuddle up to or high-five him – pumped and doing chest-bumps that he’s defeated death and now we can walk together into the sunset of a future eternity of sunshine. There is an active purpose and reason God has been at work fulfilling since the earliest days of His covenant with Abraham, Moses, and the people of Israel.
And so, as we respond to God’s invitation to join His redeeming/healing/restoring/loving work among humanity and for all of creation…may we never think that Jesus “just wanted to take a walk with us”….;)