The third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, two of His disciples were walking to Emmaus, discussing the recent events when Jesus walked up beside them. These were two that had been with Him daily for three years, witnessed all the miracles, and camped out with Him at night. Yet, “they were kept from recognizing Him.” Who knows exactly how God did that – significantly, the “how” is not as important as the “why.”
If these disciples had recognized Jesus, their questions would certainly have centered around the details of dying, yet being alive again. How did that happen? Where did He go? What was it like? That would have overshadowed the vital knowledge that Jesus was more than a prophet and good man, but that He IS the long-awaited Messiah, Who was prophesied/foretold from Moses on. Their sadness and confusion had created a very teachable moment where Jesus did not even allow His physical Presence to be a distraction.
After all the instruction, Jesus finally did reveal Himself, and then He immediately disappeared. The disciples had no time to dilute the profound truth they had received with more trivial questions. Instead, they were now able to connect a burning sensation they had felt in their hearts the entire time with the Presence of Jesus. The intensity of that feeling kept them locked onto every word, desiring more, and not wanting the experience to end.
Jesus was showing them – and us – one way to recognize His Presence and His Truth. While we have never had the blessing of being in Jesus’ physical Presence for three years, we DO have the blessing of the Presence of the Holy Spirit 24/7, from the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord. The Holy Spirit testifies to Truth, and often when we grasp an amazing spiritual truth, or some deep personal truth about ourselves we had never understood, we will feel that same burning feeling in our hearts. It is unmistakable. It is extraordinarily intense, like a balloon stretched beyond its capacity on the verge of popping. There is a profound sense of knowing, eyes opened to see a bigger picture clearly, and a deep yearning for more. The more translates to a love so consuming, we never want to be without it.
The good news is that there is ALWAYS more. While a burning heart can be intoxicating, we are not given that experience to addict us to the experience. Instead, it is a by-product of the Presence of the HOLY, Eternal God in a fragile, finite human body. The Master Creator in great wisdom, crafted our hearts to be the source of physical life and spiritual life. It is this heart reality that provides us the opportunity to abide in (live in) His Presence continually. Only the cares and trappings of this world and our flesh can keep us out of the abiding place, and/or disrupt our time there. Which will we choose?