Why Didn’t Two of Jesus’ Disciples Recognize Him on the Road to Emmaus?
“They didn’t recognize him because he was probably wearing raggedy clothes, and it didn’t look like Jesus,” says Cory, 9.
Maybe his clothes were different. We simply don’t know. It’s possible, but I think there’s a more probable explanation.
Of all Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, the conversation with two disciples on the road to Emmaus has to be the most mysterious. On Easter morning, Jesus feigned total ignorance concerning the conversation of these two disciples about his crucifixion and the report of the empty tomb.
Bewildered, the disciples asked the traveler if he were the only one that didn’t know about the things that happened in Jerusalem. “What things?” Jesus replied. I would give anything to see the expression on Jesus’ face when he asked, “What things?” After expounding the Scriptures written by Moses and the Prophets concerning himself, they still didn’t recognize him. Why?
“At death, you get a spiritual body, and they saw His spiritual body, so they didn’t recognize him,” says Kyle.
It’s true that there are earthly bodies and spiritual bodies, but is the appearance of the spiritual body that much different? When Jesus suddenly appeared in the midst of all his disciples, they didn’t have any problem recognizing him. In fact, they were scared out of their wits. At first, they thought they were seeing a spirit instead of Jesus in a resurrected body.
“Peace be unto you,” were the first words Jesus spoke.
“They thought he was dead,” says Kendall, 7. “They didn’t know he was alive,” adds Adam, 10.
The Bible tells us the disciples had hoped Jesus was going to redeem Israel. They were looking for a Messiah who would overthrow the Roman oppressors. They didn’t understand that the Messiah would conquer a much bigger enemy, death itself.
“Their eyes were restrained, and they did not recognize Him,” says Courtney, 9. That’s exactly what Luke says in his Gospel (Luke 24:16). But the question still remains, “Why?”
“They did not know him because their brains were thinking of that awful thing that happened in Jerusalem,” says Trip, 8.
My friends tell me that I have tunnel vision. Once my mental radar locks on an objective, I become oblivious to everything else. We all have this capacity to get into a mindset that blocks out what we don’t want to see.
In this case, the disciples locked onto the hope of seeing the Messiah set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. A spiritual fog descended upon them when the Roman soldiers arrested and crucified Jesus at the urging of the religious leaders.
“The followers of Jesus weren’t looking,” says Michael, 7. “I guess they thought that Jesus was dead, and they couldn’t believe that He would come back,” says Jennifer, 9.
The two Emmaus-bound disciples told their new traveling companion of women who had seen angels at Jesus’ empty tomb that morning. In spite of the angelic report that Jesus was alive, the disciples persisted in their sadness and unbelief.
After hearing their explanation, Jesus began with a rebuke: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
“They didn’t recognize him at first because their eyes weren’t opened. When Jesus broke the bread, then their eyes were opened,” says Mandy, 11.
Spiritual blindness is our natural state. We can walk through life and block out all of God’s signs and signals. Unbelief keeps the veil drawn over our eyes.
Jesus is alive, and he’s in our midst. But his appearance may not come in a form that you expect. Faith is the supreme act that can open your eyes to a realm beyond your five senses.
Carey Kinsolving is a syndicated columnist, producer, author, speaker and website developer. To see more material like this, visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. See Carey’s Kid TV Interviews. Hear a book talk. Print free lessons from the "Kids Color Me Bible" and make your own book. Let an 11-year-old girl take you on a trip around the world in the Mission Explorers Streaming Video. Print Scripture verses illustrated by child artists. Receive a complimentary, weekly e-mail subscription to our Devotional Bible Lessons.
Bible quotations in this Bible lesson are from the New King James Version.
Copyright 2007 Carey Kinsolving