Luke writes,

“13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

“Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Why was that the case? Was Jesus perhaps wearing a face mask? We should surely hope so, but according to the Bible, Jesus did not appear to have a mask, and he obviously did not get the memo about social distancing, just popping out of nowhere while “two of them” were out for a stroll. Perhaps Jesus had missed the news. The “two of them” on their way to Emmaus seem to think that he is the only one not up-to-date on events in Jerusalem. One could, however, have a little sympathy for the poor chap. If you had been locked in a grave for a few days, you too might not have heard about the global threat of death in which the media is currently relishing or, perhaps better, rolling like pigs in mud.

To make matters worse, in the middle of this particular pericope (Luke 24:13-35) Jesus seems to turn the tables on his walking companions. After they had done their best to inform Jesus of his own arrest, trial, death, and unreliable reports of his resurrection, Jesus then calls them names. The ESV translation says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” The term “O foolish ones” in Greek can also mean unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid.

So, one can almost hear his “unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid” walking companions saying to themselves, if not to him, “Thank-you very much you ‘unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid’ nit-wit, but who do you think that you are?” That is the crux of the matter. Who did Jesus think that he was? Only some “unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid” person today would phrase that question instead in the present tense, “Who DOES Jesus think that he IS?”

In the midst of the current coronavirus crisis, the very notion of God has been relegated to the “unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid” members of society. If this has not been done by society as a whole, then it has been done by the State of California and the County of San Diego. The state, county, and media seem more than happy to portray Christians or other religious groups wanting to gather as “unthinking, unintelligent, senseless devoid of understanding, or just plain stupid.”

Unfortunately, it does not seem to register with the state, county, and media that if the coronavirus is still spreading and killing, then it must be the “essential workers” who are most likely responsible because they are practically the only ones out and about. The irrational criteria used by politicians to divide society into “essential” and “non-essential” persons and groups is a very reminiscent of George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm” characterized by the hallmark phrase, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Perhaps the most equal and most essential, at least in their own eyes, are the politicians themselves. By their self-designated, most “essential” status, they have declared God, scripture, faith, and religious practice and existence to be “non-essential.” Why do some states allow constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, and why are such freedoms denied in California and especially in San Diego County?

Divisions between the more and less equal in society stem from a fundamentally great divide. The great divide in the US, and in the western world in general, is between people of faith and those who either do not have any faith or have only a nominal faith. This division cannot just be understood as a split between “conservatives” and “liberals,” even if that is a factor. The divide is not between “the right” or “the left,” although that often seems the case. It also cannot be explained fully by the “enlightened” raising themselves above the “plebs,” but that often happens. Specifically in the coronavirus conundrum, the matter is not so simple as a difference of opinion between the “conscientiousness of reasoned faith” and the “recklessness of blind faith,” which is an interesting topic in itself.

The great divide is great not because of people but because of God. Those who believe in God believe in a reality greater than their own existence, and that greater reality guides and informs their lesser, individual and group realities. Those who do not believe in God or have only a nominal faith in something they call “god” consider themselves and their reality to be the greater reality. Because they have no greater “god,” they essentially make themselves into a or even the “god,” thus becoming one of a few select “essential gods” who create reality in their own images. This pseudo-divine reality is not the invention of modern humanity or the coronavirus elite. Offering the forbidden fruit to Eve and Adam, the serpent said, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4-5).

The general panic in society due to the conronavirus is the reaction of a world without God, without the promise of the forgiveness of sins, without the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead, and without the promise of eternal life. The seemingly complete disregard for God, scripture, and the constitutional freedoms to practice one’s religion, as “ordered” by many politicians in the US, is the reaction of self-deifying politicians, who in their compulsion to “play God” have declared themselves to be “right,” to be the greater good, to be the greater “god,” and thus the greatest determiner of our collective reality.

So, who is the God or god of your reality? If Jesus popped into your living room and asked what is happening in your home, town, state, or world, what would you say? Before you reply, remember and consider that he is already always there in whichever room you live, even if you do not recognize him.