Experiencing the Presence of God (Luke 24:13-27; Mark 16:12)
On the Emmaus Road, two disciples walked for an extended period of time with the Lord but did not experience his presence. Although he was close, they missed Him at first. What kept them from seeing him?
They were overwhelmed with their problems
Their world had been shattered … their hopes had evaporated. Have you ever had a moment when you were so overwhelmed by the gravity of your problems, the pain of what was hurting you … faced the reality that something you’ve dreamed of is never going to come true … so devastated by your disappointments that you lost all sense of God’s presence and found it difficult to believe that He was near? This calls for a shift in focus from our sorrow to our Savior. We change our focus, not by what we feel, but what you know.
They were ignorant of God’s Word
Much of their confusion was rooted in their lack of understanding and misunderstanding of God’s word. Unless we have a experience of God that comes through the knowledge of His word, we will have a difficult time seeing Him in the pain and grief of life. The better you know someone the less explaining they must do. The more we know God the less explanation we need. We can never grow closer or go deeper with Him beyond the knowledge of His Word.
A lack of faith
“Slow to believe” – slow faith keeps us from his presence. In our struggles we experience so much pain and then compound the pain because we insist on a rational explanation of what’s going on and why. If I can have faith … to believe in Him even when I don’t understand Him, I can experience his presence even when easy answers to life’s questions evade me.
What I believe …
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So, when I don’t understand,
When I can’t find his plan,
When I can’t trace his hand,
I trust his heart.
The just shall live by faith.
Mark only writes 2 verses about this story. But in 16:12, he gives us a powerful insight – “Jesus appeared to them in another form.” When he didn’t manifest his presence in the way they expected, they failed to recognize him. In our preconceived expectations of how He manifests Himself we run the risk of missing an unprecedented visitation of His presence. He doesn’t always come in the whirlwind, the fire, or the wind. Sometimes He comes in a still small voice. To trust the divine sovereignty of God … to submit ourselves wholly to him and let him be God and we be his servants … without regard to whether it is the manner we are accustomed to … is to perceive God.