Cover image via Gospel Media Library.
You know the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Two of Jesus’ followers were grieving as they made the seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they traveled, the resurrected Jesus joined them—but they didn’t recognize Him.
Jesus inquired about their conversation. They recounted the tragic loss of their beloved leader. Then Jesus taught them the beautiful way this tragedy fulfilled prophecy and accomplished God’s purposes. Still, they did not recognize that the Good News stood before them! As they approached an inn, the disciples invited Him to dine with them. It was only when He broke bread and blessed it that they recognized Him. It was then that “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). It was then that “they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).
There are great lessons for us in this story. Jesus may be walking with us along our journeys—and we don’t recognize Him. Jesus may be teaching us the meaning of prophecy—and we don’t identify Him. Jesus may sit with us at dinner—and we don’t realize it is Him. Maybe it is only when He represents His sacrifice right in front of our eyes that we finally recognize Him.
Jesus wants to be known, seen, and heard by us. He wants to be a part of our lives. I think of His heart-rending cry, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37)
But certainly we are not like those disciples who were in His presence and didn’t even realize it!
Or are we? As we have traveled through the day today, have we seen Him in our lives? Have we heard His counsel? Have we recognized that He offers to infuse our ordinary day with His presence?
If someone asked us, “When was the last time you saw Jesus in your life?” would we be thinking back to some great manifestation months or years ago? Or would we say, “He is here. Right this minute. I feel Him.”?
Where is the attentive disciple most likely to see Him? I can think of three common places
We can See Him In His creation
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalms 19:1, NIV). Every day the flowers, the skies, the trees, the mountains testify that He is God and that He is good. “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart” (D&C 59:18).
We Can See Him In His Children
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). Each person we meet is someone precious to Jesus. He died for them. He lives to bless them. Each is a miracle for whom Jesus has sacred plans.
When we learn to see as He sees, we greet each person He puts in our path as a sacred blessing. We ask Jesus, what would you have me do to help this person along their path. We cherish each encounter.
We Can See Him In Events
Everything that happens to us can be a blessing—when touched by Jesus. We can see His goodness in health and sickness, in success and failure, in peace and in struggle. We can thank Him for those challenges that humbled us and those successes that filled us. This, of course, requires faith.
“Let the kaleidoscope of life’s circumstances be shaken again and again, and the true believer in Christ will still see, with the eye of faith, divine design and purpose in his life. (Neal A. Maxwell, True Believers in Christ, BYU Speeches, October 7, 1980).
What should we do with these sacred gifts? I think God would have us do three things: embrace them, thank Him for them, and make a record of them.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not initially embrace their experience. They were so burdened by their concerns that they failed to see that Joy and Victory walked by their side. That may be the biggest challenge for all of us. Often Jesus is walking with us, and we are focused on our tasks, our daily distractions, and the burdens and challenges we face.
Imagine the walk to Emmaus if the disciples had looked into Jesus’ eyes and recognized Him and the message of His presence! Imagine the difference it would make if we invited Jesus to join us through all the aspects of every day. Imagine feeling Him walk beside us, willing to converse with us and guide us, as we tend to our homes and families, work in our jobs, build our relationships, run our errands, and all of the other tasks we engage in.
As we are aware of Jesus’ gifts to us, we should thank Him for them. Unlike the disciples on the way to Emmaus, we should notice when our hearts burn within us. We should notice the inner light more than any outer gloom. Ammon got it right: “Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel” (Alma 26:16).
Research on human minds teaches us that we only remember what we rehearse. When we rehearse our complaints, our disappointments, and our injuries, our lives are overcome with gloom. When, in contrast, we notice God’s doings, we praise Him for His goodness, we make a record of His goodness, and share our discoveries with others, our lives glow. “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).
Even now, as you read these words, look around you. Where are you seeing Jesus? Who are the people who are helping you grow? What are the blessings that undergird your life? What are the hopes and opportunities to which He is inviting you?
Look around. He is there by your side.
I have written many books about applying both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the discoveries of research to the challenges of family life. If you are interested in insights for a happier life, a better marriage, and more effective parenting, I recommend my newest book, Discoveries: Essential Truths for Relationships which is available at LDS booksellers and Amazon.
Thanks to Barbara Keil for her insightful editing of this article.