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Glimpses of glory

24 April 2024 By David Guretzki

The Emmaus road reminds us we walk by faith, not by sight. Aussi disponible en français.

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As a high school student I occasionally made a Sunday evening trek into Edmonton from the farm where I grew up. Back in the ’80s when contemporary worship music was still breaking in to local churches, young people would gather from around the region for a citywide youth worship event sponsored by Central Baptist Church. It was called Glimpse of Glory.

Having just been baptized in the summer before Grade 12, those gatherings left an indelible mark on my heart and soul. The exuberant worship times nourished this young man.

I also remember, however, in the hours after those services the inevitable descent from the heights of the real-but-momentary spiritual experience. If only, I thought, I could stay on those glorious heights! Like Peter, James and John wanting to build “dwellings” on the mountaintop where they saw the transfigured Christ (Luke 9:28–36), many Christ followers have probably wished the same.

But as we mature in faith we learn most of our Christian walk takes place not on spiritual mountaintops but on the rocky paths and deep valleys of daily life.

A curious incident recorded in Luke 24 reveals this is a pattern to be expected. On the day of His resurrection Jesus meets up with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Curiously, Scripture tells us not only that they didn’t recognize Him but were kept from doing so (24:16). In other words their inability to see Jesus was not their fault.

We don’t know exactly why Jesus remained incognito (as He also seems to have done with Mary Magdalene in John 20:14), but at least one thing is evident – He wants His disciples to relate to Him in a new way. How is that?

. . . those gatherings left an indelible mark on my heart and soul.

After patiently listening to their lament over the loss of Jesus as the expected deliverer of Israel from Roman oppression, Jesus turns attention not directly to Himself but to the Scriptures. Rather than flashes of revelatory lightning unveiling His presence, Jesus engages the disciples in – a Bible study! “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

Jesus’ tactic here should be comforting to us because it shows that, despite their physical proximity to the risen Lord, these disciples had no more advantage in experiencing the risen Jesus than we do. We too have the Scriptures that testify to Him. Indeed, we may have a greater advantage because we also have the apostolic witness to Jesus in the New Testament that makes clear what was veiled in the Old Testament. As Augustine put it, “In the Old the New is concealed, and in the New the Old is revealed.”

But Luke goes on to record what has often been a headscratcher for biblical exegetes. After breaking bread with them in fellowship – a clear allusion to the Lord’s Last Supper – the story comes to a climax when the two disciples recognize Jesus, only to have Him immediately disappear from their sight! Imagine finally figuring out who this stranger was only to have Him suddenly vanish! Talk about a momentary glimpse of glory!

Their recorded response is deeply instructive. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen.’ ” Their voiced witness to the invisible risen Christ is the proper response to a glimpse of glory.

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Jesus’ encounter with those on the road to Emmaus reminds us we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even when we may not perceive His presence, Jesus still makes Himself known to those who listen to the Spirit of Scripture, if only we have spiritually receptive ears to hear (Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:29).

Despite living in what often feels like the dryness of everyday life, not to mention periods of suffering and challenge, Jesus longs to commune deeply with those who invite Him in (Revelation 3:20), however brief those moments may be.

The Christian life is, for the most part, an experience of following a spiritually present but invisible Christ (Matthew 28:20). But it is a life lived in hope and anticipation of a future day when finally we will see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Let’s be thankful for those times when Jesus graciously gives us special experiences of His presence and love, especially as we meditate on Scripture and participate expectantly in the Table fellowship of our gathered congregations.

We are also called to respond well in ordinary times. Rather than lamenting the loss of His physical presence or trying to climb back up the mountain of transfiguration, the Emmaus disciples immediately began doing what we too are all called to do – bear witness to the resurrected, living Lord as we wait, watch and pray, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

David Guretzki is the EFC’s president and CEO. Read more of these columns at Worship lightshow image by

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