By Benjamin Stubblefield, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
We have a few games we play in the car with the kids when we’re taking a road trip. One that’s fun is when one person chooses a color, and the others compete to see who can first find a car with that color.
What’s weird is that once you start looking for a turquoise vehicle — a color you’d never think you’d see — you start to notice a bunch of them. This is actually called Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or frequency illusion. It describes what happens when we become aware of something that’s always been around us but never raised to our attention. And now that it is, we start to see it everywhere.
In this week’s passage, the Lord puts the disciples on the road to Emmaus through a whopper Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. While they’ve been looking for the Messiah, Jesus points out to them that they’ve been looking for the wrong kind. The real Messiah that they’ve been missing is all through “Moses and the Prophets,” a fact they’ll realize when their eyes are opened to see it (v. 31).
Cleopas and the other disciple express their understanding of what has happened in Jerusalem but they are confused, and their confusion becomes clear.
They thought the Messiah would do for Israel in Rome what Moses did for Israel in Egypt. They report what the women saw at the tomb but have yet to decide what to think about it.
In short, these two have more questions than answers, even with the resurrected Messiah walking step by step beside them.
While Jesus is about to challenge them, what He does not do is abandon them. Though supreme and in resurrected glory, our Lord is patient with the doubtful. He’s willing to sit and visit awhile even with those who struggle to believe He’s alive.
You and I will likely have similar seasons of doubt. And that’s OK, because Jesus is still willing to spend time reminding us that He is a rewarder to those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
It’s clear the believers still don’t yet recognize Him, but His instruction moves them deeply (v. 32) — so much so that they press Him to stay and eat with them (v. 29).
What’s so interesting here is that Jesus chose to walk these guys through the Old Testament in order to correct and enhance their understanding.
He could have just said, “Fellas! It’s Me!” But, among other reasons, I think He went about it this way to establish a pattern for His present and future disciples, namely, that to know God we must know His word.
In a time when people seem obsessed with finding “their truth,” the Lord invites us to discover “The Truth,” written clear and bold in His Holy Bible.
What a confidence, calling and challenge to know that we can seek the Lord’s truth in the Lord’s word.
We don’t exactly know what caused the men to suddenly recognize Jesus. But the passive language, “their eyes were opened,” suggests that they recognized Jesus because someone else did the opening.
Through the Scriptures, God opens the eyes of the physically and spiritually blind — removes the veil, so to speak. And here, God is doing the same that they might have the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Similarly, when we pray, evangelize or study our Bibles, we recognize the Holy Spirit must work in order to bless our efforts.
Jesus tells us that without Him, we can do nothing. And I think He means it.
No lasting, spiritual fruit can come from a life disconnected from the Lord. So, brothers and sisters, we must pray the Holy Spirit would visit us, our churches and our world that we might behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.