My Bible fell open at Luke 24 and I asked for a blessing. The first half of the chapter is about women walking to a tomb in the morning, and the second half is about men walking down a road in late afternoon. In both cases the little company of people meet up with persons from another world—the women encounter two angels, the men encounter Jesus. That is, two worlds interfaced that day that rarely have interaction with each other but normally exist as side-by-side realities unseen by mortal men. The earth women and earth men go to bed happy that night, their sights raised from the mundane to the rare.
People need transcendence. People need to know that behind the commonplace of the familiar roads they walk down every day—their tiresome work, riding the No. 22 bus—there is something larger that gives meaning to it all. Why are the women happy? Why do they hike their skirts and drop everything and run rather than walk “with fear and great joy” (Matthew 28:8), to see the disciples? Why are the two men on the road so excited about their conversation with the stranger that they beg Him to stay for supper (Luke 24:29)?
We can say that these people are happy because of the news of Jesus’ resurrection, and that would be the obvious and true answer. But I would also like to say, as a person who knows what it’s like to get bogged down in the daily grind and the ennui of the sensate world, that what thrilled these people’s souls was to rub elbows with another dimension of space and time. This world we see is not all there is. There are worlds unknown.
What encouraged the women at the tomb and the men on the road to Emmaus—and the three apostles who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain, and the apostle Paul when he was allowed a peak at the third heaven, and Jonathan Edwards when the Lord appeared to him in his glory in a New England wood—was this brief and delicious welcome into transcendence that kept them moving on.
So let us encourage one another with these things (1 Thessalonians 4:18), with visions of transcendence. (My 6-year-old grandson confided in me that he carries around in his head the picture of Jesus coming on the clouds.) And let us cheer up and keep on keeping on, in all those small obediences to God that may at times seem so inconsequential but that are storing up a weight of glory we will someday see.