In his gospel account, Luke records a conversation Jesus had with two of His disciples (Luke 24:13-31). This conversation took place following Jesus’ death and resurrection. Overwhelmed with grief and disbelief, these two disciples, one named Cleopas, were amazed that Jesus (whose identity was hidden) was unaware of the recent turn of events in Jerusalem. “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” was Cleopas’ reply to Jesus’ inquiry as to their sad state (vs. 17, 18). In response, Jesus asked, “What things?” (19); to which the men recited:
Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. (Luke 24: 19-24).
Jesus’ reply to these words was direct and somewhat reprimanding: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (vs. 24, 25) The reason (and need) for this admonition is evidently seen in the statement of the men, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (v. 21). These two, as Jesus’ other disciples, did not trust in all that the prophets had spoken but their own traditions and expectations of who and what the Messiah would be. They were correct in trusting that Jesus would redeem Israel. The sacrifice He made and the blood He shed only days before had accomplished just that purpose. However, because they trusted in their own ideas and traditions, not only were their eyes “holden that they should not know him” but their hearts were holden from Jesus as well.
We find similar circumstances in the religious world today. Trusting in creeds, catechisms, conventions, confessions of faith, and church manuals, sectarians, and protestants cannot see the true Christ. They trust that His kingdom will soon come, not seeing that it is established already (Col. 1:12; Heb. 12:28; etc.). They trust that the “signs of the times” reveal that His coming is soon not understanding that His coming will be as a thief in the night (2 Pet. 3:10). Like the Jews before them, blinded by manmade traditions, they trust that Christ will be as they want Him to be, not as God has determined that He is (cf. Mt. 16:21-23).
Even in the Lord’s church, many are blind and trust in their own wisdom. Trusting in their own wisdom, they fail to “grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord” (2 Pet. 3:18). Because of this, they are unable to fulfill the divine charge to defend their hope and faith (1 Pet. 3:15). Trusting that a few minutes of study in a Bible class each Sunday and Wednesday and listening to the preacher twice each week they fail to study and grow by the sincere milk of the word (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:2) and are unable to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Failing to take heed of those things that were written aforetime and trusting in their own conscience, many forget the covenant they have made with God and allow things of this world to take priority over the more important spiritual matters. They forget that God is a jealous God and will not fail to punish his children who put the world before Him (Deut. 6:13-14). Trusting that others bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) they wonder why in later years their children no longer worship with the saints. Trusting in their own strength and abilities to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” and failing to take heed to the admonition to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” and “put on the whole armor God” (Eph. 6:10, 11), they find themselves overwhelmed in the world and drowning in a flood of temptations sent forth by Satan through his emissaries whom they have chosen as their closest associates.
The Jews trusted in what they supposed the Messiah would be and could not see Him walking with them in this world. The sectarians today, like their Jewish counterparts, trust in their own traditions and cannot see the kingdom of God in the world nor God’s simple plan for reconciliation. Sadly, many Christians trust that God will overlook their iniquities and excuse their willful disobedience. Like Naaman of long ago, many will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, stammering and stuttering with little more to utter than the empty phrase “Behold, I thought” (2 Kings 5:11). Dear friend, in what are you trusting?