“…and then He disappeared from their sight.”

I love the Emmaus Road incognito Jesus, and I love the big reveal, but for a long time, I felt His sudden disappearance after they realized it was Him was a bit of a letdown. What was that all about, Jesus? I asked for years.

Then, one day, I discovered the answer hidden in the very next verse: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

By coming to them as a Stranger, Jesus sidestepped their certainties and engaged their faith. “Did not our hearts burn…” or essentially, “Did not our hearts know Him even when our minds couldn’t yet understand?” Jesus wanted them to engage in a relational burning because He’s a relational God.

When Jesus hid Himself in the Wayfaring Stranger on the Emmaus Road, it was so His friend’s ideology, theology, eschatology, and all other ologies, wouldn’t get in the way of the heart-burning relational experience of God with us, God within us.

Just so, after He broke the bread, Jesus disappeared from their sight—He hid again—for the same reason!

I suggest that if Jesus hadn’t disappeared from their sight, His friend’s limited understanding and transactional certainty would have likely come rushing back as questions that would have cut them off from simply reveling in the wonder of eternal life.

As Johnny Cash sings, “Love is a burning thing.” And I believe Jesus wanted His friends to recognize and revel in the burning.

I think Jesus disappeared from their sight so:

  • Their Scriptural certainties wouldn’t blind them from discovering Jesus within Scripture. 1
  • Their limited knowledge regarding the love of God wouldn’t cut them off from experiencing the height, depth, length, and breadth of a measureless love that surpasses knowledge. 2
  • Their transactional understanding of a relationship with God wouldn’t limit their ability to experience friendship with God. 3
  • Their cruel theology of separation wouldn’t undermine their ability to embrace a kindness that leads to repentance. 4
  • Their elevation of the Law of lack wouldn’t divorce them from surrendering to the liberty of Grace. 5
  • Their narrow understanding of mercy could bend the knee to everlasting mercy—the same with forgiveness.
  • Their retributive thoughts on justice wouldn’t restrain them from engaging in reconciliation and restoration.

I think Jesus disappeared from their sight for the same reason He came to them as a Stranger, so they could move beyond their ability to understand and into faith; that revelatory burning within their hearts—a confident surrender to a measureless love that reconciles, restores, and transforms!

After He broke bread and their eyes were opened, after their heads caught up with their hearts, Jesus disappeared from their sight—but He didn’t leave. Love never leaves. Love simply went incognito once again so they could steward the burning and recognize the indwelling.

As soon as He disappeared from their sight, they saw what was always there—revelation; Greater Love is alive within us!

And as this revelation possessed them, as eternal life began to take hold, as measureless love burned within, they rose from the table and raced back to Jerusalem so that their brothers and sisters, indeed the whole world, would know our Father’s great affection just as Jesus knew it.

1 John 5:39-40
2 Ephesians 3:18
3 John 15:15
4 Romans 2:4
5 Romans 11:6

This article is excerpted from my book, Leaving and Finding Jesus

Jason Clark is a bestselling storyteller who writes to reveal the transforming kindness of the love of God. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children, Madeleine and Joseph, Ethan, and Eva.


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