Best of Daily Reflections: Hope for the Second Day
" … but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place."
I was a junior in college, studying for my graduate record exam, when I received a message to quickly go home. I took the two-hour drive home and was told that my dad was at the hospital in the intensive care unit. He had received multiple stab wounds from a stranger who assaulted him at a gas station. One moment, you’re living life as usual, and the next moment something shocking happens.
Today’s Scripture is set within the reality of resurrection, but this reality was clouded by the pain of the present. Two followers of Jesus were walking along the road feeling forlorn. When Jesus appeared to them he asked what they were discussing. Not recognizing him, they told their story and shared their disappointment, saying, “We had hoped that he was the one … ”
Last Sunday we celebrated the freedom that resurrection brings. Yet within this week, the freedom that we know happened with Christ’s defeat of death has probably already been challenged, questioned, or forgotten. If you can relate, you are in good company. The disciples themselves were struggling to believe that Jesus was true to his word and that on the third day he would rise again.
The day of Jesus’ death had been agony. The second day and the waiting was torture. But on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead.
John Ortberg speaks of holding on to hope during that second day. Waiting for my dad to recover was agony. It took hours before his condition was stable and days before he got back to “normal.” The second day, there is only waiting. The pain we feel in the waiting may cloud the hope we have. But Christ has defeated all powers; he has risen; he will answer in expected and unexpected ways.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you had seasons of life that felt as if you were living your own second day? Where do you find hope? Is there a verse you can memorize to remind you of Christ’s resurrection power? Who can you share your hope with today at work, at home, or at school?
PRAYER: Jesus, we know that you are good. We trust that you hear our prayers. Fill us with hope in the areas of life that we find hopeless. Meet us on our road and surprise us with your presence. I open my heart to receive from your word today. Amen.