Inklings of Truth


The Rough Road to Emmaus

By Audrey Stallsmith

Do you ever get the feeling that a preacher is speaking directly to you, even though he might not even know you? I was under that impression recently when a visiting pastor talked about the folly of walking by sight rather than faith.

He used as an illustration the story of two of Christ’s followers trudging along the road to Emmaus after His crucifixion. If we think we have reasons for discouragement, they had far more. They’d just seen the Man whom they’d expected to save the world die instead. What did they have left to hope for? 

Even His body had disappeared in a baffling sort of way, so He was completely gone. I can testify that the suddenly bereaved tend to go over and over what happened, either in their minds or out loud, as if they somehow can make sense of it all if they try long enough. So it’s no wonder that the two men were eager to pour out their tale of woe when a stranger joined them.

It sounds as if they were returning home, back to where they’d come from, back to the life they’d known before. What, after all, was the point of doing anything else?

The moral of the story, of course, is that Jesus was walking with them over that difficult road. They just didn’t recognize Him. 

I had received encouraging news in the week before I heard that sermon. Perhaps that made me more ready to receive the idea that all my worry in recent months meant that I too had been walking by sight—by how things appeared—rather than by faith—by how things really were.
I think it was C. S. Lewis who once suggested that God may seem the most distant when we need him the most because we then are too frantic to recognize his presence. It’s only when we finally begin to relax a bit, as Cleopas and his friend did over supper with the stranger they’d met on the road, that we can see Who has been with us all along. 

And, as Christ pointed out to them, they had been warned that the Messiah would die, just as we have been warned that we will go through harrowing times down here. Under those circumstances, we must believe the scriptures which reassure us that we haven’t been deserted. Even Christ felt forsaken when he hung on the cross, but he relinquished His spirit into God’s hands anyway, trusting that the Father still was there even when his presence couldn’t be sensed.

This reminds us of Job’s “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15a KJV) We were debating in a Bible study at church last night whether Isaac willingly participated in his father’s plan to sacrifice him. Our pastor seemed to think that was indicated by the scripture, but I suggested that the fact the son was bound implied otherwise. I hope I was wrong and those bonds just were symbolic of Isaac’s taking the place of a similarly trussed lamb. If he actually was a young man at this point, as some Bible scholars believe, he presumably could have fended off the older one if he wanted to. 

All other indications seem to show that Isaac wasn’t a rebellious or even an argumentative type. Perhaps he had such a good relationship with his father that he trusted without reservation, and truly was convinced that Abraham knew best. Our goal must be to attain the same kind of unconditional faith in our heavenly Father that some of us have in our earthly fathers. 

The hill where the sacrifice of Isaac didn’t actually occur was, many believe, the same hill where the Lamb of God actually would be sacrificed much later. Like Isaac and Christ, we must believe that no matter how bad things seem, our Father knows what He is doing. He never promised us an easy life. But, if we continue to trust, He will make things all come right in the end.