“We had hoped…” image

“We had hoped…”

So many of us are living with dashed hopes at the moment. Some of my friends had hoped to be going on a dream holiday soon. Others had hoped to be getting married. Many of us had hoped for more time with loved ones who have been snatched away.

So many hopes put on hold or crushed completely.

I love the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. You can really feel their utter dejection when they tell their mysterious companion, “We had hoped that [Jesus] was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). What depth of sadness is bound up in those few words.

But then, oh then, when he took the bread and broke it before them. When he handed it to them with hands bearing fresh, raw scars. When they understood, at last, what it had all been about.

‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ (v. 32).

How their feet must have flown as they hurried back to Jerusalem. How their hearts must have sung.

How they must have rejoiced together with the other disciples as they told them, “It is true! The Lord has risen!” (v. 34).

The pain, sorrow and disappointment had been real. Jesus really had died that agonising death. But his plan had not been defeated. It had been wonderfully, miraculously, triumphantly fulfilled.

He was the one who was going to redeem Israel – and not only Israel, but all the nations of the world. And he had done it. The price was paid. Our redemption was secured.

At times like this it is easy to think that God has somehow been caught unawares. That events have spiralled out of his control. Or maybe that our hopes, dreams, plans and loved ones are somehow collateral damage, unfortunate casualties of his wider purpose.

And so he gave us a sign to remind us – his body, broken, symbolised by the bread of communion. His blood, poured out, symbolised by the ruby red wine. Only by being broken was he able to be the bread of life. Only by being poured out was he able to reconcile us to the Father.

Sometimes tragedy and brokenness and pain are the only way to bring wholeness and healing and life. One day he will explain it to us, gently, tenderly. And our eyes will be opened and our hearts will burn within us as we see at last the glorious richness of his good and perfect plan.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

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