Here, as in other appearances of the Risen Lord, He is not immediately recognized. It affirms what we have said earlier: The Risen Lord is not obvious; He is subtle. We need to use our eyes of faith to detect His Presence and action in our lives.
In this passage on the road to Emmaus, two lines leap out of the text:
The two disciples express the Holy Saturday sentiments of the disciples, with the dark clouds of Jesus’ death still hanging heavily over them: “We had hoped…” Which means they no longer hope.
What is remarkable here is that they’ve heard about the empty tomb–but “Him they did not see.” Which means that they could have waited for verification, but they’ve packed up and left anyway. Just like Peter and his crew, these two disciples have just about given up and are now returning to their former lives.
But what else can we expect? Things have gone so wrong. The world as they know it lies in ruins. How can they go on believing and living their lives when they’ve lost the Lord–and even now as they walk with Him, they can’t see Him?
Which brings us to our Easter Question:
Yes, we get it. The Risen Lord is subtle. His Presence and Action are not obvious, but our faith tells us that He is with us, active and very much present.
But what if things go wrong, as they have been doing these days? What if the world feels like it’s falling apart, and all our hopes are scattered in broken pieces all around? What if–for some of us, for the very nth time!–we feel like we’re caught in a long, dark tunnel, with no light in sight?
How indeed can we believe and live our lives after Easter when we can’t see the Lord, and when things seem to be in ruins?
Times like this, all we can do, all we are asked to do is to keep hoping–even if there seems to be no reason to do so. We are asked to hope against hope. We need to trust that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the Risen Lord is doing His work, and He will get His work done!
In other words, don’t give up, and work harder at looking for signs of hope and reasons to hope.