a week prior these two may have been in the throngs of people welcoming Jesus into the city, laying their coats down for the donkey he rode to walk upon. they had plans, they had hopes and dreams that were being fulfilled in the person of Jesus. their entire lives were centered around this - they followed him from city to city, they digested his teachings, maybe they worked crowd control on one of his healing nights. maybe they were in the temple when he rampaged through, and silently cheered him on. they must have lived with the thought "it's happening! it's happening!" for weeks on end, sure that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, come to free them from Roman rule, but also it seemed from disease and hypocrisy and maybe even death. no more death.
and then Jesus is arrested.
and he doesn't deny the charges.
and he's crucified.
and he's dead.
and hope is crucified with him.
where does a disciple go from there? what does one do when your life's' purpose has been murdered?
not stick around, that's for sure. as soon as it was lawful to travel, as soon as the Sabbath was over and there was light enough to travel, they were gone. off to Emmaus.
there are days in my life where I feel like i'm plodding along, possibly looking for escape, bewildered and wondering. why aren't things turning out as I hoped they would? where is God? how did i get there and how do i get out?
I can definitely empathize with these disciples, and picture them, unkempt, tired, eyes red from nights of tears, stooped and shuffling along in the rain. the road seems to stretch forever before them.
and they meet another traveler.
and he begins to change the lens of their worldview. he pulls out old stories and scripture they hadn't heard for years, and suddenly their perspective is changing. they start feeling some excitement - which i'm sure was a little terrifying. their hearts start to burn.
they sit down to dinner and this traveler breaks the bread. wait a minute....did i just see?....were those nail scars in his hands?!!!
and he's gone.
and they're up from the table. and they're running, sprinting, back to Jerusalem. back to the city that stank of death and fear and hopelessness - they can't get there fast enough.
all hope is reborn. truth has come burning into the hearts of the disciples, and they tie their shoelaces tightly and RUN! I see them laughing and hooting and praising, looks of wonder and joy and incredulity on their faces.
"remember when he said...."
"when did you know?"
"i can't believe it!! we have to tell...."
like you, i wish that resurrection could happen without dying. i wish that the fire of sunday didn't require the bleak hopelessness of saturday, and the agony of friday. but each year Easter reminds me that it does. i look around my garden at the little green shoots springing out of what seem to be dry and dead stems, and i'm reminded again. life from death. and this life, stronger and more beautiful than the previous one. and the death has, against all odds, been made worth it.