“But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (Luke 24:16).
The two disciples traveling to Emmaus were tired and so overcome by their own sad thoughts of the crucifixion that they did not notice Jesus closely as He joined them. The same sad circumstances had also prevented Mary from recognizing Jesus at first, earlier the same day. However, the words of Luke, here and in v. 31, indicate in this case a supernatural dimming of the senses of the two disciples in addition to their self-preoccupation.
Jesus could have revealed Himself immediately to them but had He done this, they would have been so excited as to not appreciate fully or to remember well the important truths He was about to give them. It was essential for them to understand the Messianic prophecies of the OT, together with the historical incidents and holy ceremonies of the temple that pointed forward to Christ. This knowledge if understood well can provide a firm foundation for their faith. A superficial faith in Christ that is not firmly rooted in the writings of the OT Scriptures cannot give them a strong foundation when the storms of doubt and persecution attack (Matt. 7:24–27). Jesus wanted to draw their attention to the fulfillment of all the OT prophecies for the Messiah in His life and death. For this reason He restrained their eyes that they may not recognize him right away.
But after Jesus presented the truth and as He broke bread with them, “their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). The two disciples recognized Him by the way He blessed and broke the bread and possibly by the nails prints in His hands. Spiritual illumination cleared the darkness of their souls.
The heart experience of these two disciples will be the experience of everyone that listens to the voice of God speaking to their hearts through the Scriptures. Those who find the OT Scriptures prophecies unclear and dull to their out-of-focus thinking, should come humbly to Jesus and learn from Him. Then, they will proclaim, “I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments” (Psalms 119:7).
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In His service,