They had pinned their hopes on him leading them to success. They weren’t sure what would happen along the way, but they knew he would protect them. Long days and ominous night were their lot, but they assumed that was part of the deal. Even as the enemy lurked behind them, shadowing their every move, he was aware and knew that somehow evil was part of plan. And in the face of an unspeakable terror, he stood between it and them as their protector. But when Gandalf fell from the bridge at Khazad Dum, in the mines or Moria, all seemed lost. Once out of harm’s way, they were overtaken by their grief. Tears of anguish and despair flowed from those of the Fellowship as their leader, guide, and friend fell into Shadow.
Great imagery. Watching (or reading) of the Fellowship’s reaction to the loss of their leader paints a vivid picture of how the disciples may have felt at the crucifixion of their Messiah and friend. Cleopas and his companion may have been through those raw emotions since Good Friday was only a couple of days prior and still fresh on their minds (vv.13-14). I can picture their seven mile walk to Emmaus; painful, unmotivated, stepping slowly, sorrowful, disillusioned, and worst of all, hopeless (v.21).
Hopelessness is a terrible thing. One translation of Prov 13:12 is “When hope is crushed the heart is crushed” (GNT). All those who looked to Jesus, whether it was for the right or wrong reasons, had their hopes dashed to pieces as Jesus hung dying on the cross. Their hearts were crushed as the hopes of a new nation steadily disappeared with each drop of Jesus’ blood. Cleopas says it best when he states, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (v.21). He was going to make it right. He would put us back on top. Israel would be free from occupation and it was Jesus who would accomplish it. That’s a lot to hope for.
Where do your hopes lie? Are they in a person? A program? A government? What is that thing that gives your life meaning? The disciples were right to look to Jesus for their hope; the problem is they looked to him for the wrong reasons. So he comes to the downtrodden and Emmaus bound, unrecognizable, and points them to the Scriptures which teach that everything that has happened was according to plan (vv.25-27). Miraculously, during their table fellowship, Jesus allows himself to be known and is gone; thus validating everything they have witnessed and most recently heard on the road.
I can be so slow to believe the things I have read in the Bible. I read and believe, but there are times it is only an intellectual belief. My head says amen, but my heart is crushed. At times, it seems as if I have pinned my hope on a straw Jesus; one that would bless my efforts because they were so godly. I should say I convinced myself that my desires were godly. I can be the loudest cheerleader when things appear to be going my way, but as soon as it looks as if I’ve been mistaken, I drag my knuckles back to Emmaus wondering where it all went wrong.
I am reminded of Doubting Thomas who would not believe that Jesus rose from the dead until he saw him with his own eyes (John 20:24-29). Upon visual proof of the resurrection, and Thomas’ declaration, Jesus responds, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me” (v.29 GNT)! Somehow, in the back of my mind, I would believe like Thomas and Cleopas if I could see Jesus too, in the flesh. How about you? Would meeting Jesus in the flesh make more of an impact upon your discipleship than reading your Bible? The answer is probably yes, but why?
Biblical exposition happened on that road. Jesus accomplished what the prophets said he would do. And when the two men realized at the table who was with them, they headed back to Jerusalem, pronto. They had good news to share. The women who went to the tomb had good news to share, and they shared it. We should be so bold. It’s the recipient’s decision to heed or reject the news; we must merely present it because we believe it to be true. The glory of Easter overshadowed the despair of Friday, and it was now time to tell people. It was their responsibility then and it’s ours now.
How happy are those who believe without seeing me. I have not seen Jesus and yet I believe. You have not seen and yet some of you believe. Let’s not let the crushed hope of _________ be the reason our hearts are crushed and we are no good for the kingdom of God. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world” (John 16:33b GNT)!
Jesus is infinitely greater than Gandalf and no connection between the two is implied. There is not a wizard, Hobbit, Fellowship, elf, Gollum, or ring/s that saves mankind from the domain of sin and darkness. There is only one and he is the Christ, the Son of the living God!