What does Jesus do when he gets in the middle of what we are talking about?

Last night I made a simple point that ended up seeming quite profound to me as I meditated on it some more. Speaking the truth in love matters — it is not only good for our fragile relationships, it is a major place that Jesus manages to be present to us. The dialogue of prayer and the dialogue of every day community in the Spirit is what keeps the grace and truth of Jesus trickling into our lives and sometimes flooding in like it did when the men from Emmaus were in a deep dialogue on their way home from the crucifixion and Jesus raised them up from their pile of despairing, self-condemning words.

When we are in the dialogue of speaking the truth in love, even better, when we are considering how we are dialoguing, Jesus is more likely to be recognized walking alongside us. That kind of relating allows for new things to happen. If you want inspiration and enlightenment, get in a real conversation in the Spirit — in your cell, on the phone with your relatives, in your office, as you are going along.

Something new and inspiring is just what happened as the risen Jesus walked with the men going to Emmaus. In the course of considering what they were talking about as they went along, Jesus “explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” I think the following three renditions of that moment capture some of the wonder of how God gets to us in the space dialogue provides.

What does Jesus do when he gets in the middle of what we are talking about?

Rembrandt Emmaus

He listens, for one thing. He builds trust. I think we can see that happening in Rembrandt’s sketch of Jesus in the middle of then men’s conversation as they were heading back to Emmaus.

People saved Rembrandt’s sketches because they  are just that good! In just a few lines of the artist I see sadness turning on the left and concentration beginning on the right.  In the dialogue, Jesus is raising them from the words that were burying them.

What does Jesus do when he gets in the middle of what we are talking about?

Tissot Emmaus

He reacts and rebukes for another thing. And in the process he builds hope. He reorients us. He opens up new possibilities.

I am not sure what Tissot was going for. But I think the one on the left looks like he might be having a productive argument with Jesus. The one on the right seems to be slapping his forehead in an “aha” moment. Jesus is redirecting them even as he is traveling their direction.

What does Jesus do when he gets in the middle of what we are talking about?

English Emmaus

He enlightens. He brings eternity into our mortality.

This is the painting of the road to Emmaus I wanted to leave in everyone’s imagination. It is one of the most unrealistic renditions possible, I think.  At least I don’t think actual trees in an English countryside look like that, and you can be very sure that nothing in Palestine looks like that. I think it is an especially unlikely culvert to find in the first century under the road down there on the bottom left. But that lack of “reality” is good, because the artist is putting the risen Jesus right where the Lord belongs: present, risen, in our own space, speaking into our own lives. He is right in the middle of the conversation right in the middle of our own time.

I am in wonder today over the amazing ways Jesus is risen among us and how he raises us from being buried in words to speaking the truth in love. Wherever the story about him is told or people are searching for spiritual life, Jesus is so regularly recognized walking alongside caring people who have opened their hearts to one another and God.

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About Rod White

Pastor for Circle of Hope. Graduate of Fuller Seminary, PhD in MFT from Eastern University.
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