They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Two of Jesus’ disciples sadly walked toward Emmaus, their sandals kicking dust upward. Was Jesus the Messiah or not? He was dead; killed in the most horrible way imaginable. As they recounted the crucifixion with each other and the possibility of Jesus’ body being stolen from the tomb, a stranger walked up to them, joining their stride.

“Why the grim faces?” he asked, curiously.

“Oh, you must be a stranger in Jerusalem,” Cleopas said. “So many horrible things have happened lately.”

“Things? What things?”

The other disciple answered. “This man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.”

“Oh! That must have been very painful for you,” replied the stranger.

“Indeed. We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all these took place. This morning, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said. They did not see Jesus.”

The stranger looked at them and shook his head. Wisdom sparkled in His eyes. “How foolish you are,” he said gently, stunning them. “And how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

“What do you mean?”

The two disciples looked at the man. Something about him seemed wonderful, almost familiar. He spoke about Moses, the prophets, and then explained Scripture to them. The more he spoke, the more their hearts burned. A sudden hope surged inside, beating wildly, making them wonder: Was it possible that their Messiah was alive?

When the three reached the village, the disciples didn’t want to separate from this man of Wisdom. Besides, it was time for supper. “Won’t you join us, friend?” invited Cleopas.

“Gladly,” replied the man.

While at the table, the man calmly took bread, broke it, and gave thanks to the Father in Heaven. He handed the pieces of the bread to the two disciples.

It was all TOO familiar.  COULD IT BE? Their mouths opened in shock.

“Jesus!” they exclaimed.

But as soon as the realization hit them, the man vanished from their sight.

“How could we not have recognized him?” Cleopas laughed in amazement.

“He’s alive!” the other disciple said in disbelief. “Oh my goodness!  He’s alive!”

When I think about the story dramatized above, I cannot help but imagine how the disciples must have felt while listening to Jesus on the road. Imagine all their sadness, all their crushed expectations, all their pain. Without them knowing it, Jesus was right there with them, privy to all their sorrow and knowing exactly what to say to them and how to say the truth.

We may be in a situation of sadness and crushed expectations. We may think that all our pain will never go away. Like the two disciples, we can be unaware that someone is walking with us, knowing the depths of our hearts. We can rejoice in the fact that we have a Savior who is ALIVE. Death could not hold him. The grave could not shackle Him. Jesus resurrected from the dead and lives victorious. He knows us so well, and He is with us, giving hope when all seems lost.

It is good to take a moment to relish this: Jesus is ALIVE! Our hearts should burn with this truth! Let all our pain and hurt turn toward the direction of Jesus being ALIVE. He is with us, and He will never leave us.

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Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.