Maybe we know this story so well that we find it hard to
enter into the disappointment of these disciples, but we
can try. These men had big hopes and dreams for Jesus. Now he
is dead. “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
They had hope—not just for themselves but for the people of
Israel; now their hope is lost.
Disappointment happens. We share our heart’s deepest
desires with God not because if we do we’re guaranteed to
get what we ask for. We express our candid hopes and dreams
because God’s hands are the ones in which we want to be held
if and when disappointment comes. God remains trustworthy.
Luke paints a striking picture: Two men voicing their discouragement
to Jesus himself—who listens unrecognized but
present. He walks with them and asks what’s on their minds.
He invites them to narrate their shattered hopes, to tell the story.
There’s a twist coming, of course—he is risen! But Jesus believes
it important that these men express their feelings in this moment
of the story. Though God’s rescue transforms the desolation of
disappointment, it does not erase it. Jesus pauses—asks the
question that makes the men stop—and invites them to process
what they’re feeling.
Disappointment can seem to hide Jesus from our eyes as
well. We might wonder, even as Jesus walks beside us, whether
he’s at all aware of our struggle. But the fact is, recognized or
not, Jesus is present in our despair, moved by our sorrow, and
ready to hear us out. The key, in any case, is to take our disappointment
to God. Sorrowful—even angry—prayers gain us
more than merely shaking our fists at the sky.
How has God disappointed you? Dare to be honest and see how Jesus responds.
What is the Easter message, and what are we to do with it? Two dimensions of the responses to God’s act of raising Jesus stand out. First, repeatedly the texts speak of public worship. Second, the texts speak of changed lives. In 1 Peter 1 the Resurrection effects a new birth marked by obedience to the truth and mutual love. The two responses—public worship and transformed lives—are not separate from each other in the texts. One leads to the other and back again.
• Read Acts 2:14a, 36-41. What of Peter’s words that follow speak to the heart of the good news: “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified”?
• Read Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19. The psalmist declares that he will pay his vows to the Lord “in the presence of all [God’s] people.” As the author notes, what story will you tell about God’s work in your life?
• Read 1 Peter 1:17-23. When have you witnessed God’s guid- ing hand at work in your life, not only in pleasant times but also in disappointment and darkness?
• Read Luke 24:13-35. When have you participated in a Bible study that offered such illuminating results? When have you experienced the inbreaking of God’s life at the table of Jesus Christ?
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