"Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"Luke 24:26(NASB)
Sometimes we can be so distressed or disappointed; so angry or worried; so hurt or fearful that we miss the incredible blessing that God has organised in our very midst. This is what happened to His disciples following Christ’s cruel crucifixion. They were so deeply affected by the great travesty they had just witnessed, that they almost missed the incredible blessings that it brought in its wake.
Mary lingered a long time at the side of the cold, empty tomb, that she was almost unable to recognise the resurrected Lord Jesus, standing before her in the garden of Gethsemane. Peter was so acutely ashamed of his cowardly denial of the Lord, in the chilly shadows of the high priest’s courtyard, that he did not see the forgiveness in Christ’s eyes, when the Lord turned and looked upon him, after the cock had crowed for the third time.
Here is this well-loved passage we read of two distraught friends, who were lamenting the shocking happenings of the crucifixion, only three days earlier. They were trying to make sense of the sickening, senseless slaughter of the Prophet, they had hoped was Israel’s Messiah and King. And as they dejectedly trudged along the dusty road to Emmaus, trying to come to terms with the events of the day, they almost failed to recognise that Jesus was there.
They were so stricken with grief and pain that they were unaware that the Lord was with them – talking to them, comforting them, helping them to understand and enquiring of them – was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into His glory?
He had been teaching His followers for some time that He would be betrayed by a friend, handed over to the Gentiles by the chief priests and scribes and be crucified. He had already informed them that He would be mocked, spat upon, scourged and killed.
They had forgotten that Isaiah had prophesised that He would be despised and rejected of men, whilst the Psalmist foretold of His pierced hands and feet and that He would finally cry out “I THIRST” – to fulfil all prophecy.
They had also forgotten that He had told them many times that He would rise from the dead, on the third day and that Old Testament Scripture gave ample evidence that the Christ of God must suffer and die, if He were to rise again and enter into His heavenly glory.
The defeated attitude of the disciples and the destress of His other followers prevented their physical eyes from recognising Jesus. No wonder that He finally said to them: O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things, and enter into His glory?
And yet Christ had to continue to point out to these two grieving men, passage after passage in the holy Scriptures to enable them to come to an understanding that the terrible tragedy that had broken their hearts and distressed their minds had become the greatest triumph that had rescued their soul from eternal separation from their Creator, and returned them into fellowship with their heavenly Father.
The experience of these followers of Christ is too often repeated in our own lives, despite the clear teaching of Scripture – that God is in control and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Like these two men we too can become so distressed or disappointed; so angry or worried; so hurt or fearful by the circumstances of our own lives or the situation on the world scene, that we also miss the incredible blessing that God has organised in our very midst – for our eternal benefit and His greater glory.
May we become increasingly aware that the greatest tragedies can be turned into the most magnificent triumphs if we will but let Jesus into our pain. May we be prepared to let the Lord Jesus turn our biggest stumbling blocks into beautiful springboards and our great difficulties into unspeakable delights, when we trust in the Lord with ALL our heart and do not lean upon our own understanding or imaginations.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the way that You used the distress and pain of Your dear disciples to teach us that You can take what is evil and unsettling and turn it for our good and for Your eternal glory. Open my eyes to see the wonderful things in Your word and help me to trust in Your greater plans and purposes, even when my physical senses and imagination suggest the opposite. Increase my faith in You for Your greater praise and glory – this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.