And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.
I believe that these two disciples of Jesus were not just sad but were brokenhearted by the events of Good Friday. Their friend, leader, teacher, and the one in whom they had placed great hopes was killed. They were witnesses of the events that led to his crucifixion; like watching a slow-moving train wreck they could see the events that were unfolding right before their eyes. But powerless to stop them and perhaps naïve, they were only eyewitnesses to the events and not agents or actors that had a say in the outcome(s). And like many brokenhearted grief-stricken people acting out of emotion and not reason they lash out at others whom they encounter.
Jesus asked them a civil question and Cleopas responds with a stinging retort “are you the only stranger…” This may be a sanitized version of what was really said of perhaps “What are you an idiot, you don’t know what has happened over the past few days? Well, let me tell you….”
I believe that this may have been more in line with their sense of grief and hurt, or maybe that is just me.
In the song by Jimmy Ruffin What Becomes of the Brokenhearted he writes:
“As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
But happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind[.]”
These two disciples were walking away from the place of misery, from the place of pain, I believe, to find some piece of mind. I believe that they were going home. They were going back to where they had lived before being called to follow Jesus. They were going home to be with family, and friends, to visit familiar surroundings in order to forget the current pain of a broken heart.
Have you ever had a broken heart? What did you do to get over the pain and grief? What thoughts did you have in the immediate moments of your grief? Were you filled with “sadness and or confusion?” Did you lash out at anyone without thinking? Depending on the cause of the heartbreak some people lash out at God.
Fortunately, for these two men, Jesus meets them at the crossroads of sadness and confusion and walks with them as they seek to “find peace of mind.” Jesus responds to their lashing out with a bit of his own sarcasm before he breaks down the sequence of events that led to his death and crucifixion. In my own life and I will suggest in yours that it was Jesus in some form or another that met you when you were traveling along your personal road of grief, that gave you a better understanding of your grief and healed your pain of a broken heart.
So, “What becomes of the brokenhearted?” The blessed ones, like these two men, encounter Jesus, are healed, and are filled with new and unspeakable joy. And help others to experience the joy that can only come with having Christ in their lives. What do you think?