As we read today we find a condensed story of the road trip Jesus took with two of His disciples. This trip took place shortly after Peter and John came back from the empty tomb. I don’t know if Mary Magdalene had made it back before these two headed out. They were on their way to the village of Emmaus. We are not told why they were going there, but we know their visit there was VERY short.
Mark hit the high points in his account of this event. He stated simply that Jesus had appeared to two of the disciples. Mark stated it was “in another form” because they didn’t
recognize Jesus when He was walking with them. Mark also reports that they came back to Jerusalem and told the other disciples, who didn’t believe them either.
Luke gives us a much fuller account of this event. He tells us of how Jesus explained the entire plan of salvation to them, from Moses right on through to His own death. What He shared with them was amazing and they wanted to hear more. After “convincing” Jesus to stop over for supper with them, He reveals Himself to them through His breaking of the bread.
The two men were so excited to have actually seen Jesus that they jumped up and ran back to tell the others what had happened. But when they got back the rest of the group didn’t believe them. I wonder if Mary thought, “Yah, they didn’t believe me either.” All three of these people had had a personal encounter with the RISEN Jesus, yet none of His closest friends believed them.
The name and term “Doubting Thomas” leaps to mind here. Thomas was famous for his words of doubt, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:24). At least Thomas was honest about what it would take to make him believe. The others just kept discounting the stories of the ones from their own group who had already met the risen Jesus. What did Peter and John say to the two men? “Maybe you were over tired and the man just looked like Jesus. Maybe you just thought it was Him because of how he broke the bread.”
Wasn’t it Jewish law that through the testimony of two witnesses a thing was established? There wasn’t a second witness with Mary but there were two of them who met Him on the way to Emmaus. This should have meant something to them.
Did the rest of the disciples’ doubts rub off on those sharing their experience? Did they begin to question their own experiences? Did they stand firm in the face of the doubters? Did they continue to try and persuade the others or did they give up and become silent?
It wouldn’t be much longer before Jesus appeared to the rest of the group. Then the doubt would be washed away. Thomas would have to wait a little longer for that experience though. Were Peter and John shocked by Thomas’ statement? “How could he not believe all of us?” Probably the same way you wouldn’t believe the original three!
Lord Jesus, You stepped up the proof until the fact of Your resurrection was absolute. You started with having the angels announce the truth. Then You appeared to one person. Next You appeared to two people. Then You appeared to eleven of Your disciples together. I wonder how many women were in the room at this time too. You kept adding to the number of those who knew the truth. Did the original three ever say, “I told you so”? Did anyone say they were sorry for not believing them?
Jesus, You know how hard it is to stand and proclaim the truth when everyone thinks you are wrong in your beliefs. That happened to You MULTIPLE times. If finally culminated in Your death. No one believed. No one listened. This was probably how Mary and the two other men felt. “Why doesn’t anyone believe me?” How many times do we doubt ourselves and our own experiences simply because someone tells us we must have made a mistake? Thank You Jesus for giving us the example for how to handle that circumstance. You simply went on speaking the truth, regardless of who believed it. Help me to do the same. Give me the strength to hold onto what You show me, no matter what. Help me also KNOW that it is You who gives me the insight. Sometimes I wonder about that. I want to share YOUR truth and NO ONE else’s.