“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” – Luke 24:13-16
He is risen indeed! Over the next couple of days, we will be diving into the resurrection stories from the gospels. One of my favorite stories is the Road to Emmaus. It begins with two followers of Jesus travelling together. While on their journey, they discuss the death of Jesus and the stories of his resurrection. Along the way, Jesus joins them, but they are unaware of who he is. The story says that their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus. Yet I wonder, would we recognize Jesus if he strolled up along us?
I think that many of us have a clear picture of who Jesus is and how Jesus acts. If Jesus appeared in our lives in a way that didn’t fit our mental image then would we recognize him? I fear that we can become so set with our view of Jesus that we unconsciously become closed to seeing anything more of him.
When we become comfortable with our understanding of Christ, then we do not listen for the words of Christ that may be relevant to how we live and move through the world. Does a defined and objectified Jesus have anything fresh, freeing, and compelling to say to us when we are struck low in loneliness or feeling flush with power?
Anytime we reduce anyone to a simplistic label we cease our pursuit of understanding and their voice becomes white noise, we stop seeing them. Like the disciples in the Road to Emmaus story, you might say we become face blind.
Not long ago an author named Heather Sellers was on NPR talking about her memoir, “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” The book is her story of living with prosopagnosia, otherwise known as faceblindness. It is a cognitive disorder where the ability to recognize faces is impaired. The severity of the impairment varies. Heather was able to recognize her spouse and children but not acquaintances, co-workers, and friends. This sounds terrifying to me. But near the end of her interview Heather said, “I see my faceblindness as a gift, forces me to say the most vulnerable thing to someone right away, ‘I may not know you but I want to…’”
I am convinced that there is more to know in every person I have ever met. Whether I have known someone for three minutes or three decades I am sure that there is more to them. There are stories they hold, dreams they fiddle with, fears they avoid and, memories they relive that are a complete mystery to me.
The same is true with Christ. Christ wants us to experience more of God in our lives and to do that we need to be open to growing in our understanding of who Christ was and who Christ is.