Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”
My Eyes are Opened
It’s wonderful to think of life as a journey because we experience all kinds of things. We smell flowers, we hear singing, we taste food etc. We sometimes experience sadness, joy, celebration, and sometimes desperation and despair. It is really wonderful to think of life as a journey, but this journey is not just about experiencing all of these things. This journey is also the journey of having your eyes opened.
A Beautiful Picture
Today’s scripture passage is one of my favorite scripture passages. We can almost see an image of this story. Emmaus was on the West side of Jerusalem so the disciples were walking towards the West in the evening. The disciples were not walking with joyful steps but they were rather walking with a kind of sadness. They walked very slowly because they had been with Jesus for 3 years and he was now no longer there. Prior to being with Jesus, the disciples had never experienced such a profound message from anyone. They also saw all the miracles that Jesus performed and how Jesus fought against the evil system of the time. Jesus was courageous and Jesus really empowered them so that they felt courageous. With all this, the disciples thought that something good was going to happen but instead Jesus just died on the cross. The scripture doesn’t say this but Emmaus was most likely the disciples’ hometown. The disciples’ journey with Jesus was now over, and they were going home. They didn’t know what they were going to do, but everything was over. But just as the disciples were walking, Jesus was right there on the road with them however the disciples did not know that at the time.
Life is very, very interesting. Sometimes they are right there but you cannot really see who they are. Jesus was right there, but they could not see him. But then, the disciples’ eyes became open and they finally met the risen Christ.
The next day after they had seen Jesus, they kept walking towards the East. At that time, it was probably morning. Originally, they were walking very slowly, but now they were running towards the East to Jerusalem as the sun rose. The entire picture is beautiful. Our life should also be like that. Maybe we all walk with sad and heavy steps, but somehow we meet Christ then turn around and live our lives with an energetic empowerment. Often, we get defeated in life and experience a lot of things that make us devastated. All kinds of different situations that we experience in life can really drive us into despair, but on the road of our journey, if we meet the risen Christ, our life can be changed. We can then turn around and walk victoriously.
Layers of Reality
What you see is not everything. Everybody sees different things. Even though they think that they see the same thing, everybody sees different things. So there are different levels, different layers of reality that we see. With our physical eyes we may see one thing, but with different eyes we may see another thing. We don’t just see one thing all the time. So don’t think that what everybody else sees is what you see. Depending on what you’re going through, depending on what you’re experiencing right now, what you see is very different compared to what you will see in the future. Many years later you may look at it and say, “My goodness, what did I see at that time?” We realize that there are different layers of reality and that our journey is about our eyes being open and seeing the risen Christ.
This morning one lady came to see me. She came to me with tears in her eyes and said, “I came alive. I was dead this weekend but now I got life back.” In other words, her eyes were opened to another level of reality. After I talked to her, I went to the new members class. We have a new members class on Sunday after service. So we sat down and there was this man who just became a member of our church. He said, “You know, I used to go to church because my wife told me to go to church to play golf with my friends but this weekend I was really thinking about whether I actually believe or not. I don’t want to be in the middle. I’m gonna try my best to believe.” This man was awakened to another layer of reality. I think this revelation is wonderful. There’s no such thing as; “I believe.” Belief is always present. Even whether you believe right now or not, or whether you’ve seen the Risen Christ or not, there’s no such thing as “I used to believe.” In this life, ask yourself, do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus has risen from the dead? Have you met the risen Christ?
When I die, I wonder what will happen. A dominant picture that comes to me is that when I die I will finally be able to see my life. I don’t see that clearly right now, but once I die I will say, “Ah, now I understand why all of these things were happening,” and then I think I will have a clear understanding of life, of God, of myself and everybody. Just like Saint Paul said, “Now I see divinity but someday I’ll see clearly like I see in the mirror.” He then talks about that in the context of love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13: “So I think that love has the power to open our eyes to be able to see.” When we are self centered, we are blinded. But when we are able to love, our eyes can finally open and see. When you look at the scripture, there are a lot of references about our eyes being blinded and then opened up. Sometimes we live in blindness and we think that we know but we actually don’t know. Only after we have our eyes open can we then see. Saint Paul thought that he knew pretty well about the law of God, about himself, and about everything. He thought he knew them pretty well, but once he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he realized that he didn’t see anything and that he didn’t know anything. Then something like scales fell off from his eyes and he was finally able to see grace. He was able to see God.
When look at something, ask yourself, which layer are you looking at? Which layer are you seeing? Are you seeing this layer of reality or that layer of reality? Resurrection is at the top. If we try to see resurrection at this level of reality, you’ll never be able to see it and you can only have an emotional experience. Even when you praise, you will only see emotional things rather than spiritual things. Life is not just about emotional things, life is also about spiritual things and seeing a different layer of reality.
Peter and The Blind Man
When you read the Gospel Mark, there’s a very interesting story side by side. One is Peter’s confession and the other is of a blind man being healed. Jesus usually heals a person right away but this time Jesus touched a blind man and did not completely heal him. Then Jesus said, “So, what do you see?” The blind man said, “I see something like trees walking around,” so that meant that he could not see very clearly. And then Jesus touched him again and the blind man was finally able to see. Alongside this story, there are confessions of Peter. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples said, “Some people say you’re a prophet.” Jesus then asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the son of the Living God in Christ.” But immediately after that Jesus said, “I’ll have to be persecuted and crucified and die and rise again.” And then Peter said, “No, that shouldn’t happen.” Peter only saw part of Jesus’ plan, but he didn’t see the whole thing. And then Jesus finally came to Peter and he asked, “Do you love me?” When Peter experienced love, his eyes were open so he was able to see. But at the end, Peter said to the people, “This is tradition, not the scripture. I cannot die like my lord so hang me upside down.” So he died on the cross, upside down. Finally he was able to see in his journey. I hope that our eyes may be opened and we really see what we’re supposed to see.
Living in the Present
The priest Anthony Demello said something very interesting about life. He said, “Life is like this. You go to a symphony and when the symphony is about to begin, you realize that you locked your keys inside the car. Now, all of a sudden you think, ‘Oh my goodness. What am I going to do?’ The symphony goes on and it reaches the climax but you hear nothing. All you can think of is, ‘Oh my goodness, how stupid am I leaving my keys there. What am I gonna do now? Oh, the towing car will have to come and how much will that cost?’” All throughout the symphony, that is what you think about. You worry and regret about your mistakes and you worry about the future. Sometimes we live like that.
We worry and regret about our past and we worry about the future in the present moment. We don’t hear and we don’t even see this present moment. This very precious moment is fleeting away. We never live a full life. The present has to come alive. The past is not reality and the future is not yet reality, the past is already gone and the future did not come yet. We live in the present. When you believe in the present moment, it will come alive and you’ll be able to live your life more fully every moment, and that’s the journey.
The people that I mentioned about from the Newcomer service had an awakened realization and it happens all the time. Tonight I’m going to Santiago, it is a place where many Christians have passed by. Some people say that Jesus’ mother, Mary, had walked that pilgrimage. I’m very excited to walk that pilgrimage and I’m wondering what God will reveal to me as God had revealed to the two members of that Newcomer service. If God doesn’t speak at all, it’s fine. I don’t necessarily demand that He speak. But God will speak, I know that God will speak on the road. God will speak to me and awaken me and make me think about, “What am I doing? What is my life? How am I going to live my life?”
If you don’t meet the risen Christ in your journey, if you don’t hear what God is speaking to you at this moment, then you’re just wasting your life. I hope that in your journey, your eyes can be made open and you will see.
In Hasidic Judaism, the people believe this: Everyday, a hundred angels visit you and give you a hundred messages everyday. I think that’s very wise and very true. I receive at least a hundred messages just when I sit around, when I talk with somebody, or when I experience something. But how many messages do you really hear? You may think, “There were no messages for me today.” Do you miss out on all the messages that you receive every day? I hope that our eyes may be open and our ears may be open so that we may be able to hear and see what God wants to show us.
Life is Beautiful
Life is precious. Listen and experience the resurrection at every moment – that’s our journey. You may have worries and anxieties and regrets, but experience today. Tomorrow is unknown and it was designed that way.
When we call, God will come, and He will save us. He will save us from our bondage, our boredom, our meaninglessness, our sickness and our problems. Let us call to God that He may save us.
We confess that we need You. Save us from our meaninglessness, our afflictions, our troubles and hardships. We pray that You will come deeply in our hearts, transform and change us, and lift up our souls so that we may live our lives with freshness and the energy You give us. Guide us. Instead of living with despair, help us to live with soul, the breath of God. Day by day, Lord.