Several years ago, my sister Lori, her five year-old daughter Katie, and I were traveling together on the Metrolink train, from Union Station in Los Angeles to Rancho Cucamonga. Sitting near us on the train, a little boy about her age was playing with a set of plastic zoo animals. Being a social child, Katie made friends easily, so it wasn’t too long before she and her new friend were talking to one another as the boy’s father looked on. The man said they were returning home from a day at the Los Angeles Zoo and asked Katie if she liked animals. She replied that she did, in fact, love animals!
He continued, “Do you like giraffes?”
“Yes, I like giraffes.”
“How about elephants?”
“Um, yeah, I like elephants.”
“Yes! I love tigers. They are my favorite animal!”
“Do you like… buffalos?”
This question caused some consternation.
“No. . . I don’t like buffalos,” she replied sadly, “people eat their wings.”
The man stifled a laugh and said, “Oh, I see.”
From Katie’s limited experience in life, she had no idea that her perception of reality was wrong. Her opinions were based upon her understanding of her world, and in that world buffalo wings were on the appetizer menu at the local restaurant. With only five years to gain wisdom, her understanding of truth was severely limited.
The same concept was true for two other travelers in the Gospel of Luke. The two men are walking to a town called Emmaus about seven miles from the city of Jerusalem where they witnessed Jesus die a horrible death.
As followers of Jesus, they had been hoping that he would deliver Israel from Roman rule. Their hopes now seemed dashed. It had been three days since his death and just that morning they had received word that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb. What did it all mean? They were distraught and confused. In the midst of this serious discussion, they are joined by a stranger. The stranger asks them what they are discussing and they pour out their story and their heartache. The Gospel reveals that Jesus was the stranger and had kept the two men from recognizing him. His reply to them was probably not what they expected.
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27).
Once the three reach the village, they invite the stranger to stay with them. He does so, joining them for dinner. Before eating, the stranger breaks the bread and blesses the meal. Immediately the two men recognize Jesus for who he is.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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 24:31-32).
The light dawned and they understood. Their perception of reality before Jesus appeared was very different than their perception after Jesus expanded their understanding. His interaction with them affirmed his resurrection, but it was the impromptu on-the-road Bible study which confirmed his identity to them as the long-awaited Messiah.
Like Katie’s misunderstanding about the anatomy of buffalos, the disciples on the road to Emmaus had a limited understanding which led to a faulty perspective. Once Christ opened their eyes, the truth of their situation was seen in a new light. Sorrow was replaced with joy, and despair gave way to excitement. With a new understanding of reality, their perspective was changed.
How has a Bible passage or an event increased your understanding and changed your perspective on the important issues in life?
(portions of this post are excerpts from Held by God)
On the journey toward Home,