Two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” (Luke 24:13-24)
There are none so blind as those who will not see. Blindness was a common problem throughout the Gospel stories, both literally and more especially figuratively. Why did Cleopis and the other disciple fail to recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus? Because the disciples didn’t really know Jesus at all—as Jesus’ question demonstrated.
Of course, Jesus already knew what they were discussing. Because of his miracles, they believed that Jesus was a prophet and a mighty teacher. They had hoped that he was the Messiah who would rescue Israel from the Romans. When Jesus was killed by the Romans, those hopes had been dashed. The odd reports that Jesus’ body had vanished only added to their confusion.
With their confusion and blindness exposed, Jesus could turn his attention to enlightening them. He spent the journey healing their blindness. When their faulty beliefs had been removed, they suddenly had the clarity of mind to recognize Jesus.
We often don’t even know enough to ask the right questions, let alone the answers. Without Jesus’ question to his disciples, those disciples would never have understood what he was trying to tell them. They would never have been able to see Jesus.