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Mark narrates that Jesus appeared in different form in Mark 16:12

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.

Luke narrates that disciples could not identify him in Luke 24:16

but they were kept from recognizing him.

Was Jesus transformed in his physical appearance (Jesus changed his face), or was it the crucifixion incident and physical abuse that Jesus suffered, that meant his face could not be recognized?

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  • I think you have answered your own question - Luke 24:16 simply says that they were prevented from recognising Jesus so that he could preach to them along the entire journey
    – user25930
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 10:21

5 Answers 5

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The event described in Mark 16:12 of which it is a summary (cf. Luke 24:13–32) says “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16, nasb). This makes it clear that the miraculous element was not in Jesus’ body, but in the eyes of the disciples (Luke 24:16, 31). Recognition of Jesus was kept from them until their eyes were opened.

This is not to be understood of any change in the shape of His body, or the features of His face; for as soon as their eyes were opened, which had been before held, they knew Him perfectly well: whereas, if there had been such an alteration made in Him, that He could not have been known for the same, there would have been no need of holding their eyes, that they should not know Him, (Luke 24:16, Luke 24:31).

Whatever “another form” means, it certainly does not mean a form other than His real physical, material body. For, on this very occasion Jesus ate physical food, which later in this very chapter He gave as a proof that He was “flesh and bones” and not an immaterial “spirit” (Luke 24:38–43).

Finally, “another form” probably means other than that of a gardener for which Mary mistook Him earlier (John 20:15). Here Jesus appeared in the form of a traveler (Luke 24:13–14).

According to the scholar Craig A. Evans, the expression used in Luke 24:16 is reminiscent of the experience of Elisha servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17, where supernatural cause was behind their inability to recognize/see through and their eyes were later opened through supernatural enabling (In the two disciples case, to recognize Jesus later in verse 31. In Elisha servant case, to see the previously unseen horses and chariots of fire in verse 17).

References:

  1. Bible Study Tools (John Gill's exposition of the Bible: Mark 16:12) - https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/mark-16-12.html%3famp

  2. Luke: Understanding The Bible Commentary Series. Craig A. Evans. Chapter 58: The Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

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    – agarza
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 12:46
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Jesus now has a glorified body like the heavenly hosts (“angels”) and therefore can disguise Himself

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:14‬ ‭

This was not the first time Jesus was not recognized by the disciples. He was able to disguise Himself in multiple forms, apparently even as an elderly person

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.” ‭‭John‬ ‭21:4, 12‬ ‭

Whatever body He has, we too shall be of different bodies of glory

“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:53‬ ‭

And even the heavenly bodies will vary in degrees of glory (one way to think of glory is, what it is most renowned for, trait, ability, strength)

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

And therefore since we will be LIKE Him, it follows that He has a heavenly, glorified body.

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:49‬ ‭

We have been predestined IN HIM to be glorified also with these imperishable bodies

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:57‬ ‭

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  • Luke says that the disciples eyes were "holden" and prevented from recognizing Him. Why would that be necessary if he simply looked different? Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 1:18
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Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form (morphe) to two of them while they were walking in the country. - Mark 16:12

The noun μορφη (morphe) means form or shape, but speaks of a thing's existential structure — it's form as it relates to both its substance and its existential definition — rather than its mere outer parameters, as its adoption in the English language would suggest. - Abarim Publications

As has been pointed out in several answers, Jesus physical appearance is not in view here but the disciples eyes were "holden that they should not know him"; holden (krateo) indicating restraint from reaching what should be an obvious conclusion.

The salient point is that, in Luke's account of this encounter, it is upon a recognition of behavior that the disciples eyes were opened:

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him - Luke 24:30-31

In similar fashion, the eyes of sinners are "holden" so that they do not recognize the "morphe" of God in the behavior of Jesus, even though he was in the "morphe" of God from the very beginning (John 1:1, and Phillipians 2:6). Indeed, unbelievers are unbelieving because their minds have been blinded, because recognition has been 'holden':

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. - 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

The expressed purpose of the miraculous signs that Jesus performed and the words that He spoke is that He might be recognized as the very Son of God, Emmanuel (God with us): see Matthew 11.

The Gospel of John, at least, compiles a specific list of signs for a specific purpose:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. - John 20:31

If we will but see, in Jesus, the morphe (behavior) of God and believe we will be saved.

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I agree completely with Nihil Sine Deo, but I'm also assuming that what he means is, Jesus was NOT resurrected back into his old physical body, but instead into a glorified body like the heavenly hosts, and with this new, spiritual body, he could change his form, enter rooms with locked doors etc. Before his crucifixion, Jesus never changed his "form" to prevent people from seeing him, instead we're told that he slipped away from the crowds, eluded the grasp of his pursuers, and was constantly escaping from people. And no one had any trouble recognizing him. But after his resurrection, now people didn't recognize him, he appeared in various forms, and could enter a locked room. So, something was VERY different about Jesus now.

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  • I believe it was the same body, but changed. Jesus bears those marks of honor and glory for He saved the world, and He will wear them forever I think. His physical form was "changed" (glorified) but His body still bear the scars of our salvation. Those marks bear witness to the great love the Father, Son, and Set-Apart Spirit have for all of us.
    – Yahuchanan
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 15:33
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There is not much details about how Jesus looked during his ministry. He just once described how He lived;

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” - (Matthew 8:20 NIV)

It's up to individual imagination how a person would look when he doesn't had a home. Perhaps the most closest description is in the book of Isaiah;

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." - (Isaiah 53:2 NIV)

Therefore after His resurrection, it is reasonable to consider Jesus has restored His fullness and His glory, that was difficult to be recognized by His disciples who used to see Him.

The statement in Luke 24:16 'but they were kept from recognizing him' should not mean the Lord made them incapable to recognize him. These two disciples were in sadness and in deep memory of their master, that required the Spirit to revive their souls, then they saw the glory of Jesus.

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