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Day 20—Thursday, March 7

Luke 24:31-35

“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?’ They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”

There’s a famous scene in The Great Gatsby where the narrator, Nick, attends an extravagant party at his neighbor Gatsby’s house. All night, Nick hears rumors about the mysterious Mr. Gatsby, but the host is nowhere to be found. Then, towards the end of the night, he sits down next to a man he thinks looks familiar, and they casually discuss their time in the war. Finally, Nick admits to the man that he finds the party unusual since he hasn’t yet seen the host, and the man replies “I’m Gatsby… I thought you knew, old sport. I’m afraid I’m not a very good host!”

This has always reminded me of Luke’s Road to Emmaus story where Jesus – freshly out of the tomb – walks with two men who are reflecting on the last few days and swapping stories of amazement about Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified and now, apparently, alive again. They talked to Jesus himself like he was an outsider who needed to be caught up on the latest town gossip, and it wasn’t until much later – when he broke bread for them at dinner – that they realized their ignorance. How embarrassing! How could they have missed what was right in front of them?!?

I don’t think Fitzgerald took his inspiration from the gospel, but this is a familiar enough story… Seeing, but not really seeing. Knowing, but not really knowing. How easy it is to focus on all the details and drama around us but miss the very thing we were looking for to begin with!

While the writer and reader in me loves the “twist” at the end of this story when Jesus is revealed to these two goobers and then disappears leaving them to wonder how they could have been so clueless, my favorite part is that Jesus STAYED even when he realized the men didn’t recognize him. I imagine he could have found another group to surprise with his un-deadness and get a much better reaction; but, instead, he patiently journeyed with these men for many miles listening, instructing, explaining, and breaking bread with them. He didn’t “vanish” until they had had plenty of time to discover the truth about his identity, and – when they did – it changed everything about the direction they were going…

Growing up in church, I can turn on the “Christian – speak” fast. I know all the stories and the right things to say about Jesus; but, like the men in Luke, I’m often too distracted or confused or afraid to let myself see beyond the surface and really know Him.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t give up on me either, and each time I let myself really SEE, I find a loving God who is and has been walking beside me all along.

-Elizabeth Chapman



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