Whenever I read this passage in Luke for today’s Gospel, I am always surprised that the two disciples still didn’t recognize the risen Jesus a second time. I mean, come on, Jesus had just met them on the road to Emmaus. Then it left such an impression on them that they went to tell the other disciples that Jesus really had risen. Did they already forget or just still didn’t believe? Regardless of the answer, I think the disciples’ startled reaction is to be expected.
Even though the disciples had just encountered the risen Jesus on the road and then appeared to them a second time, we see that it took time for them to process their experience of Jesus. The disciples’ consistent reaction of fear and doubt reveals to us what our own faith journey often looks like. It takes time to grow in our faith and to surrender our whole life to God. And Jesus understands and anticipates that human tendency as seen in the Gospel for today. Sure, Jesus questioned them why they were doubting, but he did that not out of frustration but to reveal to them that he already knew their hearts. He understood where they were in their journey of faith and so appeared to them a second time.
So, despite the disciples’ hesitancy, questions, and doubts, Jesus still showed up. Jesus doesn’t give up on them but instead consistently guides them and calls them even closer. He tells them to touch and see him. He asks them for a piece of fish and eats it in front of them to prove that he really is the living risen Christ and not some ghost. He guides them again through the scriptures to remind them that what they are witnessing, the risen Christ, is true and not made up. Jesus understands that it is hard to believe.
Wherever you are on your faith journey this Easter season, be reminded that the risen Jesus Christ meets you there. Jesus never gives up on you even though you may feel like you have given up on him. The questions that arise in your heart, Jesus is there. The doubts and fears you have, Jesus is there. The lack of trust in God, Jesus is there. If you forget often about the risen Christ in your own life and have a hard time believing, Jesus is always there pursing you every step of the way even though you may often be afraid and hesitant.