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Mistaken Identity (2)

W Alexander, Brazil

A STRANGER - Luke 24.13-35

At one time, there were four ministers in neighbouring towns and all had the same surname - Wright. They were in no way related, and often correspondence was delivered to the wrong address. A case of mistaken identity! To avoid confusion, it was decided that the one in Woodburgh would be known as "Upright", another was called "Downright", the one who served in Roxbury was named "Outright", and the fourth, in Southsbury, "Forthright".

Our Lord is singular and without compare and there should be no difficulty in identifying Him. However, the fact is that most did not recognise Him for who He was. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not" (Jn 1.10). Mary thought him to be the gardener, and the two from Emmaus, a stranger. The reason for the mistaken identity is told by Mark: "He appeared in another form" (Mk 16.12). What that form was, we are not told.

In the tomb - laid…in a sepulchre

Luke 23 ends with the Lord being taken down from the cross and laid in a sepulchre. It was a new tomb, so that there could be no doubt as to the identity of the person who rose from the dead. It was hewn out of the rock, so there was no possibility of the body being transported through a secret passageway. No body had been deposited there before the Lord. That meant there was no smell of corruption before the Lord’s body was deposited there, nor after He had risen. Therefore there could be no doubt as to the sinless character of the Saviour. Nevertheless, the day ended with the Lord in a tomb, but that was not the end of the Lord. He arose the third day.

In the way - Jesus…went with them

Just over thirty years before, the feet of the Son of God began to walk the world He Himself had made. Amazing grace! He whose way is in the sea and whose path is in the great waters, makes the clouds His chariot and walks on the wings of the wind (Ps 77.19; 104.3), travelled the dusty road to Emmaus.

The risen Lord still walks with us in the way. No matter how strait, rocky, or uphill the road is, He is there beside us. The saintly Samuel Rutherford, writing from his prison in Aberdeen, ended one of his letters to his parishioners: "Jesus Christ came into my prison cell last night, and every stone in it glowed like a ruby".

It is stated that Enoch walked with God, and that was a great privilege, but that God should walk our streets and lanes and be with us is mystery. The Lord is willing to walk with us but sometimes we are too proud and self-reliant to walk with Him (Mic 6.8).

In Jerusalem - alone in Jerusalem

Cleopas and his companion were journeying when suddenly they heard someone ask, "What is this discussion that you are exchanging (throwing back and forth) between you as you walk along?" (v.17, Amplified). The force of the question brought them up abruptly for we read: "And they stood still, looking sad" (RV). The question brought to their minds a rush of sad memories, and brought from them a torrent of words that reflected their forlorn spirits and dashed hopes. What had happened would have made anyone stand still. Although so depressed and downcast, they continued the onward march, but this time accompanied by the Lord.

When events turn nasty, wounds hurt, and the way becomes so intolerable that it is enough to makes us stop and desist, we must continue on towards our eternal home. Sometimes the Lord will reveal, even now, the reason for our suffering, but if not, then most certainly when we reach the other side.

We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye,
We’ll talk it over my Lord and I;
I’ll ask the reason, He’ll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

Cleopas was so stunned by the question that he posed another: "Dost Thou sojourn alone in Jerusalem?" (Newberry margin). Normally people attended Passover in Jerusalem in the company of others and to enjoy times of fellowship with the residents of the Capital. Did this stranger keep himself so much to himself that he was not aware of the momentous happenings of recent days? The exchange between the two and the Saviour reveals important lessons. The Lord Jesus is:

The silent listener to our conversations

He is omnipresent and omniscient. This fact ought to make us more careful with regard to what we say: what passes between husband and wife, parents and children, friend and friend.

The sharer of our experiences

Cleopas hinted at important events in Jerusalem, but spoke of them in general terms. The Lord showed tremendous interest and probed more deeply – "What (kind of) things?" (v.19). The Lord is interested in every little detail of life.

The solver of our problems

The Lord is not only pitiful and interested in our grief, He is also powerful to bring relief. When the couple left Jerusalem it was with dragging feet and downcast spirit; when they returned it was with enlightened mind and lightened step. That is the difference that the Lord brings when we carry everything to Him in prayer. We must learn to take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there.

The subject of Holy Scripture

How did the Lord effect the change in these two weary travellers? By speaking to them from the Scriptures. What a wonderful Bible study that must have been! Here was the Lord Jesus, the Author of the Word of God, speaking directly to them. Christians today can have a similar experience by allowing Him who inspired the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, to minister to their needs. Many Christian pilgrims continue to be bent under heavy loads because they neglect the Scriptures and do not find the burden bearer. If we are slow to believe the promises of God, we will be quick to find despair and disaster.

Speak, O blessèd Master,
In this quiet hour;
Let me see Thy face, Lord,
Feel Thy touch of power.

-E M Grimes

In the home - He went in to tarry with them

It used to be quite common to see in houses plaques with the words "Home sweet Home", but those days have long since disappeared. Where has all the sweetness gone? Sour cream seems to be served everyday in lots of homes. Some homes are no better than filling stations. An American lady observed: "For too many Americans, home has become a place where the family may convene on major holidays, with just about the same conviviality and the same masks to hide real feelings as one sees at business and professional conventions".

Christian homes should be quite different; but for them to be so, it is imperative that they do as did the two from Emmaus, that is, the family must urge and insist that the Lord abide with them. When the three arrived at Emmaus, the evening shadows were falling. The shadows of the evening of this world are darkening, menacing, and lengthening. This fact makes it all the more incumbent that we know the Lord’s presence in our homes.

In the breaking of bread - as He sat at meat

The humble guest became the host, and in the simple act of breaking bread and sharing a meal together was made known to them. If the Lord was honoured at our tables there would be no greed or gluttony, no selfishness or slander.

In the midst - Jesus Himself stood in the midst

This is the Lord’s rightful place among His own. He occupied the central cross on Calvary. The two disciples discovered that He was the centre of divine revelation. The gathered company discovered that the resurrected Saviour claims the central place among His people. If we, as individuals, do not know the Lord’s presence in the way, and if as families we do not know His presence in our homes, we will never recognise Him as Head in the Church.

The two thought Him to be a stranger. Is the Lord a stranger to us or do we cultivate His presence day by day? Does he walk and journey with us across the hot burning sands of time? Is His presence real?

Rise, my soul! thy God directs thee;
Stranger hands no more impede;
Pass thou on; His hand protects thee,
Strength that has the captive freed.

There no stranger God shall meet thee;
Stranger thou in courts above!
He who to His rest shall greet thee
Greets thee with a well-known love.

-J N Darby

To be continued.

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