Luke 24: 13-35 records the events of two disciples walking to Emmaus after the crucifixion. They are demoralized because they thought Jesus was the Messiah, but now He’s dead (or so they think). Then He begins walking with them, though they don’t recognize Him:
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
I love the above story, for three reasons:
(1) They don’t recognize Jesus, even though He is literally right in front of their faces.
(2) They had believed in Him during His ministry, no doubt bolstered by His miracles. Part of the urgency in killing Jesus was that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, in front of a crowd. So these disciples presumably knew that Jesus had raised others from the dead, and (possibly) they also knew that He had predicted His own return after being killed. Yet they were so sure that was impossible, they couldn’t see Him in front of their faces–even after others in their group prepped them by saying they had seen an empty tomb and angels.
(3) In order to prove to them that this man they had followed really was the Messiah, and really would come back from the dead, Jesus reminded them of all the prophecies in (what Christians now call) the Old Testament. As Vernon McGee put it, Jesus didn’t show them the nail prints in His hands, instead He showed them the Scriptures.