I’ll never forget the first time I ate at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. I first visited the nationally recognized BBQ institution during a trip in college. I thought I knew what good barbecue was… but that meal completely changed my perception.
The burnt ends were fatty and unctuous, practically melting in the mouth. The brisket had a smoke ring unlike any I’d ever seen. The ribs came from a different dimension than any I’d ever tasted, and the famed Z-Man sandwich (brisket, smoked provolone, onion rings)… well, it just has to be experienced.
The point is, Joe’s KC opened my eyes to BBQ truths I hadn’t known before. Food can have that affect on people.
It certainly did on two of Jesus’ disciples.
In Luke 22, two of Jesus’ disciples (not any of the 12 famous apostles, but a pair lesser known followers) were walking on a path to the village of Emmaus. This was two days after Jesus’ crucifixion. Earlier that morning, Jesus had appeared to several women, who told the apostles He was alive.
Understandably confused by the recent events, the two men discussed the happenings when they encountered the very man they were talking about, but Jesus hid His identity from them. He wanted to speak earnestly with them and not spook them – how would you feel if you encountered a man you thought dead along the road?!
At any rate, the three got into a deep discussion about Jesus and His purpose. The discussion was so captivating that, when the trio reached Emmaus, the two invited Jesus to stay with them. He accepted, and as they sat down to eat, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them.
“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:31)
I find it so interesting that Jesus chose this precise moment to reveal His identity. One of His final and most meaningful acts with His apostles involved the breaking and sharing of bread – His body – at the Last Supper. Now He shared this moment with two men who weren’t present at that meal, but they were blessed with recognizing Him.
Put yourselves’ in their shoes: the man you followed and put your faith in was crucified. You heard rumors of His appearance, but that would be impossible. Suddenly, He’s in front of you at your table – and just as you comprehend this miracle, He’s gone!
The disciples were bewildered, but acknowledged that something about this man felt different from the beginning: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
The men didn’t realize it in the moment, but with hindsight could tell Jesus had been with them all along.
Can you relate to that?
How many times have you felt you’re wondering through a period of darkness? It can be so hard to see how God is working in your life. Where is He?
Often, He’s right beside you. You just can’t see it yet.
It might take more than a life-altering plate of barbecue to realize this truth. It may take weeks, months, or even years to see how Jesus was moving in your life.
But at some point, Jesus will break that bread and your eyes will be opened. And if you believe, you’ll recognize that burning in your heart that existed all along.