Jesus had risen from the dead, Mary had seen him, the disciples had been told that the tomb was empty and Peter and John had run there to see if the report was true. But now the disciples are huddled behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish authorities. Then the seemingly impossible happened: “Suddenly Jesus appeared right there in their midst” (Luke 24:36). Thinking he was a ghost, they were terrified, so Jesus chided them a bit asking them to take hold of his hands or feet to make sure he was real. He explained that all of this that was happening to him had been written in the law and prophets. Then he did something of crucial importance – “He opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45).
There are two points in this story that are especially relevant to how we are to live in our relationship with Jesus. The first is that He has a way of suddenly appearing in our midst. Is it not true that Jesus was actually there before he “suddenly appeared?” We know that at the moment of faith God is said to dwell in us. So if he is “in us” is he not always with us? We know from Heb 1:15 that God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. So we can say that although Jesus “suddenly appeared” to the disciples, it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t with them prior that moment. He didn’t come through the door because he was already there. The point for us is that we are to be aware of the constant presence of the resurrected. He is always with us for guidance, for strength, for encouragement, and for sharing the joys as well as the trials of daily life. That he may not be physically materialized has nothing to do with the reality of his presence. Remember, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!”
The other point is related: For us to understand scripture, we must allow him to open our eyes. The gospel account is not a series of words organized to convey something. Of course, there are words, and they say something, but words, like Jesus, have a way of “materializing” when our eyes are opened. They communicate. God wants to actually speak through the words of the biblical authors, but for that to happen we must by faith have the veil removed. Now we can hear him say, “I love you and have forgiven you in Christ.” In the life of every believer there are those faith-filled moments when the words of scripture become the actual voice of God. And that is the way to read scripture. Let God speak.
Jesus suddenly appeared to the disciples (although he was always there) and He suddenly speaks to our heart (although we tend to be too busy for extended conversations). To be mentored by Jesus is to recognize his presence and listen to what he wants our heart to hear.