Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
My friend and her husband had been married for a few years, and though she still loved him dearly, the humdrum of day-to-day living had lulled her into taking him for granted. Sure, he was loving, steady and dependable, but the romance was gone.
Then at a yearly awards banquet at her husband’s company, my friend was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the accolades heaped on her husband. Superiors spoke of him in glowing terms. Coworkers gushed about what a great guy he was. Even the custodian made a point of telling her what a likable man her husband was.
My friend found herself swelling with pride—and a little shame—wondering why she hadn’t noticed this side of her husband. Did he act differently at work, or was she just not seeing what had been there the whole time?
Cleopas and his friend, who were walking to Emmaus two days after Jesus was crucified and buried, had a bit of the same problem. To be sure, they were depressed, tired and drained from what had happened in Jerusalem. A great teacher who had promised so much had been arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. Now his body was missing. Certainly they were not expecting that the man who joined them on the road was that very man—Jesus.
They didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Messiah either—likely because they were disillusioned that the one they had expected to deliver their nation from Roman rule was now dead. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people,” they said of Jesus (Luke 24:19). But they didn’t have a clue that he was Savior of the world.
As we read this, we want to cry out, “How could you not see Jesus as Messiah after all the wonderful things he did? And how could you not recognize him as he explained the Scriptures to you and your hearts burned within you?” (see verse 32) But until they broke bread with Jesus and the Spirit of God opened their eyes, these men were blind to Jesus’ true identity.
Isn’t that the case with many of us today, in both marriage and our walk with Christ? Seeing Jesus as a living, vibrant presence in our lives comes before anything else, of course. Only when our eyes are focused on him as our Savior can we begin to truly appreciate a spouse who also believes in Christ. When we study the gracious attitudes and actions that Christ pours out on his church—loving, caring, cherishing, submitting even to death—we ask ourselves, “How does my spouse show these same attributes to me and to others? Have I shown appreciation for those Christlike qualities being lived out in him? Am I being Christlike to him?”
It’s easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other’s strengths.
Let’s pray for open eyes before sickness, loss, separation—or accolades from others—force us to pay attention.
Valerie Van Kooten