road to emmaus in forest
July 6, 2022

I recently reviewed some written transcripts for interviews I had conducted several years ago and came across an interesting error. I was talking to a pastor about a particular event in his community. He remarked how sometimes we couldn’t see something right in front of us. He referred to the story following Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus meets two disciples walking on a road.   

The sentence, as transcribed, was, “You know—the account where they were on the road to a mess.” 

The actual statement by the pastor? “You know—the account where they were on the road to Emmaus.” 

Sometimes things can get lost in translation. The transcriber, listening through her high-fidelity, noise-canceling, expensive headphones, focused intently on capturing every word accurately – but missed the context.  

To be sure, there were clues all around the phrase. There were references to the crucifixion of Jesus, to the sadness engulfing the other disciples, and to these two disciples’ grief at the loss of their teacher and rabbi. But in this case, focusing intently on the phrase, she missed the context. She missed the story that revealed the Gospel truth: Jesus Christ is Risen! 

It happens with us, too. We get orders to report to (fill in the blank with your favorite “armpit of the world” image) without considering the possibilities for growth that may await us there. We return from deployment wondering how our family’s life is in such disarray, without considering the challenges our spouse has faced while we were gone.  

We are so intent on the one word (the place) or the acted-out emotion (Billy stomping his feet at Mom when told to go to bed) that we miss the context. We miss the story: Jesus Christ walks alongside us to tell the whole story of the life-saving Gospel. He sits at table with us and breaks bread, revealing his nail-scarred hands, wounded for us. He lives with us and gives us hope. 

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” (Luke 24:20-31; for context read verses 1-35) 

Indeed, we may sometimes feel as though we are on the road “to a mess,” but when we pause to listen to the Words of Christ, to invite him to walk with us and to be with us, gradually our eyes are opened, and we see the Truth. 

Rev. Dr. David Reese 

Chaplain (Colonel), United States Army (Retired), contributing author to the Warfighter’s Study Bible.

Check out our recent interview with David on the relevant topic of Addressing Public Tragedy.