Will we recognize Jesus?
“And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.”
One of the more intriguing stories on the day of the Resurrection is only in the Gospel of Luke. Two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas (his name means “Glory to God”) are walking away from Jerusalem towards the nearby town of Emmaus. They are discussing the events of the past few days when a stranger joins them on the road. The stranger is the risen Jesus, but they don’t recognize Him even though they carry on a lengthy conversation with Him and Jesus relates to them the prophecies about His suffering and Resurrection. They invite Him to dinner and when they are breaking bread, their eyes are suddenly opened and they now recognize Jesus, who promptly vanishes. The two followers race back to Jerusalem to tell the 11 disciples what they experienced. Soon after, Jesus appears to the group.
Why was it difficult to recognize Jesus? These followers were probably in low spirits and wondering what would happen to them. According to author Beth Dunn on Crosswalk (an on-line Christian resource), she believes Jesus is helping these followers to walk through their faith to the right answers rather than giving them immediate evidence as written at this link:
I think that is one explanation; I also believe that the transformed and resurrected Jesus in His Glory would be nearly unrecognizable, resembling the Jesus in the Transfiguration that created awe and fear in Peter, John and James (an event recorded in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke). This difficulty in recognizing Him happens several times after the Resurrection. We all want any physical evidence that is before our eyes to make sense and to be fully explainable. Supernatural events usually make humans uncomfortable and skeptical, especially in this day and age of cynicism and mockery and love of scientific explanations. But the evidence cannot be denied, when He was seen by so many after the greatest event in history and completely transforming their lives. This same transfigured Jesus appears to Saul on the road to Damascus, instantly creating one of the greatest Apostles and evangelists out of a relentless persecutor. The Glory of Jesus must indeed be a sight to behold! We CAN recognize Him right now, though, through the power of His advocate, the Holy Spirit!
Photo by Geoffroy Hauwen on Unsplash