One of the challenges that we face in connecting to Jesus is that we do not see Him physically today. We might even think that the first century Christians had it easier because they actually got to see Jesus and walk with Him.
Some will even incorrectly conclude that we can’t connect to Jesus like disciples did in the first century. Yet the Bible teaches that we can know Jesus today just as well as those who physically walked with Him 2,000 years ago.
In the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35 we read a story that shows us that we can know Him today just as the first century Christians did, even though we may not see Him in the physical realm as they did. This story takes place after Jesus was resurrected and after some of the women visit the tomb only to find it empty. They also report that two angels confirm to them that Jesus had in fact risen (Luke 24:1-12).
Two of Jesus’ disciples are walking on a road to Emmaus and begin to discuss all that has happened and Jesus himself walks up alongside them and talks with them all the way to Emmaus.
On this walk there were several things of note. Among them were that the two men were “kept from recognizing” Jesus. So although they were talking to Jesus they did not recognize him. Then beginning in verse 25 Jesus seems to rebuke these men for not believing that He was resurrected. So even though they were kept from recognizing Him, Jesus is rebuking them for not believing.
Doesn’t this seem odd, if not unfair? It would have been easy for Jesus to make himself recognizable which would have enabled them to believe. But that is not what Jesus did. I believe if we keep reading we can get a reasonable idea as to why Jesus challenged them.
Later on after realizing that they were in the company of Jesus they ask each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” In their hearts they new something was going on while they were talking.
Maybe they were afraid to believe and Jesus knew that. Perhaps they wanted to ask if this was Jesus but just were scared to ask. We don’t know exactly what was going on in their hearts but Jesus did! Let’s not forget that Jesus knows what’s in the heart of men.
And he addressed them according to what He was seeing in their hearts. So when Jesus was presented with an opportunity to console two followers who were struggling in their faith instead of appearing physically to them He chose to point them to the Scriptures. He chose to build their convictions for the long haul.
Their burning hearts show us that we don’t have to see Jesus physically to be moved by Him. You don’t need to see Jesus physically to believe! You don’t have to see Jesus physically for your heart to burn at just hearing about Him. You don’t have to see Jesus physically to know Him and ultimately be led by Him.
We are told to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18) Yet we often make too much of the physical realm. People think if they had seen Jesus and walked with Him then they would never have a problem being faithful. But Jesus’ actions show us that the focus must be on knowing Him through the Scriptures. In Luke 14:27, it says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
If we really want to know Jesus then we must go to the Scriptures to know Him. Jesus elevates the importance of the Scriptures to know Him over seeing Him physically. In fact the second that they recognize him physically, He disappears. Now you see Him, now you don’t!
The presence of Christ today is not dependent on Him being here physically. Likewise, Christ not being present in the flesh today does not limit the impact He can make in your life and with your life.
In fact if you examine the lives of His disciples, they made a much greater impact in this world after Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven than when He was physically present with them. We must be convinced that we are not at a disadvantage today. In fact Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”(John 20:29). In the Bible we have all we need to know Him and be led by Him.
As we seek to be connected to Him by getting to know Him, let’s remember that the Scriptures are what help us to know Him. As His disciples, His Spirit will continue to point us to the Scriptures. Today we see Him and His power at work in our lives when we come to know Him. Let’s not miss Him in our walk. He wants to walk with us too!