…and he vanished from their sight
Jesus spent the entirety of his ministry being misunderstood. When he asks Peter who he is, for example, Peter gives some tired definition of ‘messiah’ that had been passed down from his father’s father’s father. He was not able to recognize Jesus – the flesh and blood Jesus – talking with him right then and there. And not only Peter…it seems that mostly, the disciples just did not get it.
Did. Not. Get. It. Ever.
How curious. He disappears from their sight. That is not usually how it works. Imagine this: you haven’t seen someone for years. You are walking along the sidewalk one day and come upon your friend. Your recognize them, stop them, and proceed to catch up. Finally, when you do leave their sight you get an address and email so that you can meet later. That’s how it goes. Well, not here. They recognize him and he disappears.
What’s going on? Well, there is a clue. After Jesus disappears the disciples get to talking,
Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road.
It’s those burning hearts. Christ’s resurrection is not an event far off and away. Time and again with the resurrection appearances we see that resurrection is a matter of the heart turned around. Where there is despair, now hope. Where there is grief, now joy. Where there is conflict, inner and outer, now peace. The heart turned is Christ alive in the heart now opened, in the community that now is Christ’s risen body.
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, noted that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. What then? Well, all subsequent fruits, that’s us. As individuals and as a community. So when those disciples brought the attention to their burning hearts they were noticing something: their own second fruit resurrection.
When John Wesley met with his Aldersgate prayer group, as he heard scripture read, he felt his “heart strangely warmed.” At moments like this the Resurrection takes root, as we take up our true selves, our true identity in Christ.
So, did Jesus really vanish? Yes, from their sight. But he took up residence in their hearts as they found themselves in Christ.