WPD and Listening to Jesus
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That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:13-27
I am occasionally reminded that different people have different words-per-day (WPD) quotients. Some have many, many WPD. Others meet theirs out a very few at a time. But even those who have a very low WPD quotient can get excited about something. And then the words flow. Maybe it’s about baseball. Perhaps it politics. Could be the state of the economy. Might be about children. And don’t get me started about my grandchildren! When things get to us our WPD quotients go up.
Something obviously got to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were in deep conversation about the events of the previous days. It had left a strong impression on them. And well it should have. After all, Jesus had suffered gravely at the hands of the Romans. He was falsely accused by the Jewish religious leaders. He had died a shameful, inglorious, and excruciatingly painful death. They had witnessed that. And apparently they had put their hopes in Jesus. They had thought he was the one. They had anticipated something spectacular to come from his mission.
And were they ever wrong. But not in the way they thought they were wrong. They were wrong because they didn’t realize how fully Jesus had fulfilled their hopes and dreams. He had not limited himself to their meager vision of what the Messiah would do. He had not followed their human and earth-based mission plan. So when they heard that the tomb was empty they surmised that Jesus had failed, when in fact he had done far more than they ever could have imagined.
God had in mind the redemption of the whole world. And Jesus was committed to that vision. It cost him his life. It meant that his followers were disappointed. It wasn’t his fault, but it was his burden to carry. And so as he joins them on the road, they are deep in conversation. And he begins probing. What are you talking about? Who is this one?
And he will do far more. He will reveal himself to them. He will warm their hearts with the grace and truth that pours from the essence of his being. He will secure their hopes in something far better than they thought they had lost.
Maybe we do that as well. Maybe we sell God short. Maybe we settle for too little. Or worse, maybe we don’t recognize the fullness of God’s redeeming love in the face of the dark valleys and disappointing turns of events. Maybe we need to check ourselves when our WPD quotients are high, and pause to listen to Jesus. He has something very good to say. Worth every moment of silence it requires of us to hear it.