Jesus spoke in parables about the temporary partial judicial hardening that was to occur in order for him to be rejected but Jesus said "to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven":

KJV Matthew 13:

11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

And yet when Jesus appears alive after his death their "eyes were kept from recognizing him":

KJV Luke 24:

16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. ... 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

What is the backstory on their eyes being kept? It is apparently a miracle that they did not recognize him but why?

And a bit later in the account their eyes are opened and they recognize him.

Is there a prophetic point to this miracle of the closing and opening of their eyes?


4 Answers 4


I believe that Jesus appeared to the two on the Emmaus road to demonstrate that, risen, he appears and ministers, but in 'another form' (see Mark 16:12). That is to say another form than that in which he had appeared to Mary Magdalene.

She, too, had not realised it was he - at first. But that was a personal appearance, to a single individual. He appears, as risen, to the individual, in a particular way.

But he now demonstrates - to the two on the road to Emmaus - that he will also appear 'in an another form' in a corporate way. To the two, he was a teacher and a minister, opening up the scripture to them both, such that their hearts burned within them at his words.

Yet they realised not that it was he - at first.

So it is with those who minister the word in the ecclesia, the church, among the brethren. At first, they are but teachers of doctrine. But as the word is received and as the heart burns, it dawns upon the hearers, that it is Christ himself ministering - in another form.

That is to say in another form than the individual knows him personally and intimately.

But once it is grasped that the teachers sent by Christ are 'able ministers of the new testament' II Corinthians 3:6, once they appreciate that they are 'ambassadors of Christ' who beseech their hearers 'in Christ's stead', then the form vanishes from sight.

Then Christ is appreciated that he, himself, ministers from the glory, from the throne of his Father, in Spirit, and the form (that is to say the visible teacher) just disappears.

The Lord Jesus Christ, from the glory manifests himself to the individual :

He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)

And he appears (in another form) as he ministers in the ecclesia, the church :

I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee, (Hebrews 2:12 from Psalm 35:18)

And the form disappears as one realises that it is he, himself. Then one follows such ministers as they follow Christ, not following a man, as such, but following him in the manner in which he, himself, follows the Lord (I Corinthians 11:1).

Then the head of every man is Christ, within the assembly (I Corinthians 11:3) and no man above another : but if any is great among them, he is as a servant (Matthew 23:11).

[All quotations and references are from the KJV.]


We are not told the answer to your question so here is some "sanctified speculation" (?!?) about why this might have happened.

I think the key to understanding this is to ask another question - If the disciples had recognised Jesus immediately, what would have happened? I believe the answer is: they would not have heard Jesus' superb sermon about the significance of His life and work and its connection to the OT prophecies. Their hearts would not have "burned within", etc. (Luke 24:32)

However, by NOT recognising Jesus, He had an opportunity to make them better realise the true spiritual reason for His incarnation and its significance without being overwhelmed with joy (and thus distracted) at seeing Him.


In Luke 24:16 the verb ἐκρατοῦντο (were kept) is passive voice with no agent expressed. In Luke 24:31 the verb διηνοίχθησαν (were opened) is also passive voice with no agent expressed. Several things to consider:

1) Cleopas did not yet believe Jesus had risen and would not expect a person walking and talking with them to be Jesus.

2) Apparently, Jesus looked like a very ordinary person of that day.

a) Jesus was able to blend with the crowd:

But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” … About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. (John 7:10–11,14, ESV)

So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59, ESV).

b) When Jesus asked those coming to arrest him who they sought, they didn’t recognize Jesus. They took Judas with them to point him out.

So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” (John 18:3–8, ESV)

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. (Matt. 26:47–50, ESV)

3) The only physical identification given of Jesus in the Scriptures is the scars on his hands, side, and feet. When Jesus broke the bread in 24:30, they may have seen the scars on his hands for the first time.


my take on this is as simple as "what is happening that the author is not saying or need not say because it has been said already in other parts of the Chapter before this event"... needless to say that when this happened, the followers of Jesus are still in a most undesirable state, sorry for not choosing a better word, because of His death and those who looked up to Him, shall we say, were at their most "confused" state. Naturally, their sense of "reality" has shifted from "Here is the Lord with us" to "Where is He now, was He really the Lord"? This new state of mind has clouded their "reality" of Jesus and His promises.

So when Jesus appeared to them in a very natural way, nothing that will suggest a supernatural manifestation or something like that, they continued to "operate" like that, they did not recognize Jesus. And some may ask - Why would Jesus not tell them directly who He is - He can just say, Hello, here I am, alive, I am Jesus. Would the story go differently? I will not go to that. Maybe some other time.

Continuing to the time when Jesus was breaking bread with them, I want to go back to what I said earlier, that "what is happening that the author is not saying or need not say because it has been said already in other parts of the Chapter before this event".... it is this, before breaking the bread - Jesus will pray, but how He will pray this time is different because He has resurrected and He is the Bread. Upon hearing this blessing of the Bread, anyone and I mean anyone who truly believes that He is the Bread will have his eyes opened because of faith. It is this time that we will truly recognize that Jesus is present. His presence. Now that is another topic for some other time.

Now the other thing is why would He vanished...after we recognize who He is...His presence..because our eyes of faith have been opened and is now back to its working state...that is all we need... not that we don't need Jesus' presence to have this faith working all the time... it just means that our faith is enough proof and enough that we are not lacking in everything.

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