Their Eyes Were Restrained


In the Gospel reading today we see that two of the disciples of Jesus Christ are walking on a road from Jerusalem to a town seven miles away called Emmaus. These two men were conversing with each other about the things that took place in Jerusalem in the past few days, that is, the crucifixion, death and supposed resurrection of their Master. As they walked and spoke with each other about these things, a man appeared and began to walk beside them. It was the risen Christ. The Gospel of St. Luke chapter 24, explains that the disciples “eyes were restrained” from recognizing that it was Christ. In this unrecognizable state, Jesus played “dumb” and asked what they were talking about. They explain to him how Jesus was a great teacher and the expected Messiah of Israel, but that he was handed over to the Romans by the Jews and eventually killed by crucifixion. Their explanation of the things that occurred seem to convey to the reader that they were disappointed at the outcome, and in someway downtrodden over their experience with Jesus Christ. The unrecognizable Christ explained how the Messiah had to suffer in order to fulfill the Scriptures. Then a good distance into their travels they wanted to lodge at a hotel and invited Jesus to join them. There, Jesus broke bread with them (Qurbana), and at that moment, the “scales” (the restraint) from their eyes were removed and they recognized the Lord.

The interesting point that I want to make here is how the eyes of the disciples were restrained from recognizing Christ. It is not as though they couldn’t recognize Christ because of their vision or cognitive abilities. It was rather because God kept them from recognizing it was Christ. Why would God restrain their eyes? Wouldn’t it have been easier for Christ to tell them who he was? Let us examine this question.

Jesus Christ, in his post resurrection appearance, could have told his disciples who he was, but didn’t do so because he wanted them to experience Him in the Scriptures for themselves. Of course, Christ could have unrestrained their eyes, but then, that would have been a “quick fix” for the unbelief of these disciples. These disciples walked, taught, and ministered with Christ, but yet they were “unbelieving” and “slow in faith.”  Christ could only “help” them by giving them the “opportunity” to “work” toward believing in Him, by experiencing him in the Scriptures and the Breaking of Bread. On the contrary, let us imagine if Jesus told them who he was. What would the disciples learn?

Experiencing Christ: The disciples are on the road to Emmaus. Spiritually speaking, for us, it can be seen as a path to understanding and experiencing Christ. Like many of us, the disciples had weak faith. Even though Christ knew this he didn’t reveal himself because he wanted his two disciples to experience him for themselves. God will never spoon-feed us anything. As St. Paul says, “we have to work toward our salvation.” Christ wanted the disciples to understand and contemplate the scriptures for themselves. Further, he wanted them to experience him in the breaking of bread, His Body. As Christians we often want God to pop up and let us know the answers to our prayers, or let us know that everything will be fine when we are going through a difficult circumstance. But Jesus will never pop up and tell us what we need to know…or what is going to happen…or what we need to do. Sometimes, he wants us to grow in our faith through the difficulties so that we learn how to become better Christians. Imagine if in every one of our difficult circumstances God popped up and told us what we needed to know. If such were the case, then we wouldn’t grow. There would be no real relationship with God, but rather, an “on-demand” God who gives us what we want, when we want it. The root problem is: we really don’t want to struggle, fast, pray or go through the emotions. We want God to fix it immediately. But God reminds us in His Word, “Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.”

Connections: We can look at the road to Emmaus as our road in life. Like the disciples, we might be disappointed that certain occurrences in our life do not make sense. In other words, we can make the “connections.” That is, why did this happen in my life…in my career…in my marriage…in my ministry…or what is the reason behind why I am going through this difficult circumstances?” Such are the questions and thoughts that arise in our minds.

Sometimes, or rather most of the time, God restrains our eyes from seeing how the struggles and circumstances in our life are connected to our greater purpose. He lets us stay in the “unknown” area so that we can trust and rely on Him. This provides an opportunity for our faith to get stronger and more reliable.

Our suffering, pain and difficulties have meaning but we will only know it later on in the path of life, that is, how God was using every situation and circumstance to make us into who he wants us to be for the salvation of our souls.