Wounds from a friend

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. – Luke 24:25-29

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Cross atop Mt. Helix in La Mesa, California | Photo taken April 2017

I recall a particularly difficult day that culminated with a visit with a surgeon at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in downtown Houston. This remarkable place exists to “eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world.” Their singular focus, complete dedication, and pool of talent is remarkable – especially when it comes to bear on a loved one. In this case it was our daughter-in-law who was beginning treatment there for stage four cancer to which she succumbed in 2009.

I recall this because of the last appointment of the day and the surgeon’s brutally-frank assessment of the situation Nicole was facing. He listed four or five nearly insurmountable challenges to the battle she was facing, painting a very bleak prognosis. At the end I asked him, “You’ve indicated that the challenges Niki faces are grave, but have offered little or no hope. Where’s the ‘but’?” In other words is there any good news?

In spite of this harsh prognosis (or possibly at least in part because of it) we returned to MD Anderson and that surgeon for treatment. They helped us face the brutal facts, but never gave up on us till the very end. She is with Jesus now, the true healer of body and soul. We look forward to celebrating the culmination of the healing on the great last day.

I recall this today this because of Jesus’ words here to these two Emmaus road disciples. He calls them foolish and slow of heart to believe. He seems entirely unwilling to gild the lily  for them, or even to use the Dale Carnegie approach of offering a complement before and after a criticism. But still these disciples yearn for his presence, urging Jesus to stay with them – without knowing it was Jesus who had joined them on the road.

It seems that Jesus’ approach was so powerful for at least two reasons. First he had no need to gain their approval as he spoke to them; he simply spoke the truth – in all its ungilded glory. Truth is a substantial foundation for the expression of deep love. That deep love is the second factor in his profound impact toward these disciples. Jesus’ heart and the very core of his being is love.

With all the worry about self-esteem these days, Jesus truth and love approach to life is a welcome corrective. To live under his rule and reign is all about embracing both, and hearing his word to keep us focused on that which truly matters: the truth of his word and the hope that is ours in his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection from the grave.

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