Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.” Luke 24:13-16
Through the Bible: Luke 24, John 20-21
One day, I was driving home on Interstate 85 when I got stuck behind a beautiful, bright yellow Chevy Camaro, going about 30 miles an hour. It was a car that looked like it was built to go fast, and I could not for the life of me figure out why he was going so slow. Traffic was whizzing by on both sides of us, but it was stacking up behind us, and I was stuck.
I was frustrated. I said mean things about the person’s driving ability. I thought to myself that people should not be allowed to buy expensive, powerful sports cars if they weren’t planning to use them to their full potential.
I finally saw a break in the left lane, and I peeled around the person, ready to lean on the horn, throw my hands up in frustration, and let the person know how much he had inconvenienced me.
And that’s when I saw that his windshield was completely smashed in. I don’t know if someone had taken a bat to it, or a tree had fallen on it, or what. But my perspective on the entire situation changed. I realized that the person behind the wheel had been hit so hard by something that he literally couldn’t see straight to drive. He was doing the best he could, navigating through a spider web of cracked glass.
We very rarely know at first glance what is going on with a person. From a distance, it may look like they’ve got it all together, and you get frustrated with their behavior. “Why are they acting this way? Their life is perfect! Look at their car, their clothes, their house. If anyone should have their cruise control set high and be enjoying life in the fast lane, it ought to be this person.”
But while you are busy making those judgments, you have no idea what they’ve been hit with. You have no idea what they are trying to navigate through. You have no perspective on how much work and concentration and focus it is taking for them just to get to a place where they aren’t going to hurt themselves or someone else.
When Jesus met the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, Scripture says that “they were kept from recognizing Him (verse 16). There may have been something supernatural going on there, but it may simply have been that the disciples had been hit so hard by confusion and disappointment over what had just happened in Jerusalem that it was as though they were looking through a smashed windshield.
Which is why verse 15 is truly beautiful. Jesus walked beside them. And in walking beside them, he helped them make sense of what they were facing. And (just to stretch the analogy a little bit), he steered them safely to where they were going.
Beloved, when you encounter someone that’s going slower than you think they should, or doesn’t seem to be functioning to their highest potential, you have three choices:
You can stay behind them and get frustrated.
You can speed right by them and never think about them again.
Or, you can pull alongside them, and begin to understand.