Aware of Jesus’ Presence

Posted on April 27, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.” (Luke 24:31)

On Easter Sunday the focus of our Bible study group was on the account of the two men on the road to Emmaus. These, identified as Cleopas and his companion, were disciples of Jesus. Though not included among the twelve, they had been with Jesus, followed Him, seen His miracles, heard His teachings and believed in Him as the promised Messiah. Yet they did not recognize Him when Jesus came along and joined them on the road and in the conversation about the events in Jerusalem.

The Scripture indicates a passive action; they were prevented from recognizing Him, implying God had a purpose in obscuring Jesus’ identity. We also know that Satan, the god of this world, has the capacity to blind the eyes and harden one’s heart lest people see and understand the gospel and believe. While either or both may be a factor in their failure to recognize Jesus, they could have been so overcome by grief, and their perception that Jesus was dead was so strong, it prevented them from seeing this living, breathing sojourner as Jesus Himself.

I wonder how often Jesus is with us, but we are unaware of His presence. It is not unusual when one experiences grief in the death of a loved or some other tragedy they feel forsaken and alone, blind to the fact that Jesus is seeking to draw near to provide comfort and grace. The Bible teaches us that Jesus literally lives within us as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we receive Him as Savior by faith. But do we forget that reality and fail to recognize He is with us?

In times of disappointment and stress we are so focused on trying to work out our problems and deal with the issues of life we are unaware that He is with us to guide and empower us and provide our every need. Usually it is just our busyness that makes us blind to the presence of Jesus. Rushing from one meeting and responsibility to another, managing the children’s activities, meeting schedules, checking off our “to do” list, it never occurs to us that Jesus is with us.

I’ve discovered two keys to practicing the presence of Jesus. Giving priority to beginning each day with a quiet time of Bible study and prayer tends to focus our awareness the rest of the day that God is with us and sufficient for all our needs. Also praising Him in all things, takes our minds off of our circumstances and turns them to the Lord. He resides int he praises of His people. Becoming aware that He is present in the midst of our busyness and stress allows Him to take control of our emotions and attitude.

Finally, when did the two travelers recognize Jesus? Their eyes were opened when He broke the bread and blessed it–something they had seen Him do many times. They recognized it was Jesus who was with them when He did what was unique to Him. When will a lost world have their eyes opened to see Jesus? When they see Him in us, as the body of Christ living and doing what is unique to a follower of Christ. When they see a lifestyle of selfless care and concern, joy in spite of adversity and hardship, peace in the midst of grief and disappointment, they will see Jesus.

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