"But their eyes were
holden that they should not know him" (Luke 24:16).
"And their eyes were
opened, and they knew him" (Luke 24:31).
This is a negative and a
positive side. On the negative side there is a word of very
solemn warning to us all. Because "their eyes were
holden" it was possible for the Risen Lord, the Lord of life
and of glory, to be present with them and they did not know it.
It is possible for the Risen Lord, with all that that means, to
be present with His own disciples and they not know it. And it is
possible that He will be present here, speaking from all the
Scriptures, and we shall not understand. It is true that the
disciples said: "Was not our heart burning within us,
while he spake?" We may have strong feelings and
emotions while the word is being given. No doubt these two men
were saying in their hearts: 'Isn't this wonderful? Why, we never
heard it like that before! We never saw the Bible handled in that
way.' All that is possible, and no difference be made in us.
Really, if these two men had understood, they would not have
reached Emmaus, and would not have waited until after dark to go
back to Jerusalem. They would have turned back on the road and
rushed straight back to their fellow disciples. But they just
continued in the way that they were going before. Strong
feelings, yes; a sense of wonder, yes; but no real revolution in
their lives that turned them another way.
Now I expect you dear friends
are saying: 'Well, is such a thing possible?' Perhaps you would
say: 'That is not possible with us!', but let me speak to you out
of long experience. There are many of the dear people of God who
have had a great deal of teaching and have said afterwards:
'Well, it was all very wonderful. "Our hearts were burning
within us while he spake"', but so many of them are not
changed by the word. They just go on the same way as they went
before, and that is possible with us, and is why the Lord is just
saying this word to us. If it is to mean a change in our life,
something has to happen inside.
I do not know how many of you
are fond of music. If you are, you will sometimes read a critique
in the paper about someone who has been giving a performance on
the piano. The writer describes how wonderfully the pianist
played, speaks of his wonderful hands and says: 'He rendered the
Rondo and the crescendo like a master', etc. That may have been
true of the pianist, but what about the piano? Supposing some of
the strings of the piano were broken? Supposing an enterprising
little mouse had got into the piano and eaten all the dampers
away? Well, even Rubinstein or Mendelssohn could not make that
piano do what he wanted it to do. The great pianist may be all
right. There is no question about him, but if there is something
wrong in the instrument, he cannot do as he would.
"Their eyes were
holden" - and that was the trouble. Something had to be done
in the instrument.
That is the negative side - and
it is just possible that that would be true of us.
But there is a positive side:
"And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him".
Some people have said that when
He took the loaf, gave thanks and gave it to them, they
recognized something that they had seen before - it was just the
way that Jesus did it in the upper room. Well, you may think that
that is the explanation, but I do not, for the whole New
Testament stands behind this. Paul said: "The natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: ...he cannot know
them" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Their eyes being holden was
an act of God, and their eyes being opened was an act of God.
Paul prayed for the Ephesians: "That
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give
unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of
him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Ephesians
1:17,18). If all those Ephesian believers, who had had all Paul's
teaching, needed a spirit of revelation, surely we do! It is an
act of God whenever we really do see the Lord Jesus.
But, again, it was an act of
grace. These men had forsaken the Lord Jesus in the hour of His
trial, and they were men who were of an unbelieving heart. Jesus
said to them: "O foolish men, and slow of heart to
believe in all that the prophets have spoken!", but
grace overcame all their failure and all their sin. Their eyes
were opened by the grace of God. We do not have to be perfect
Christians in order to see the Lord.
If it was an act of God and an
act of grace, it was also an act of Divine power - and that act
makes all the difference. The fire was burning very low before He
opened their eyes, but when they were opened, the fire was
rekindled. They had said to Him: 'Come in and abide, for the day
is far spent and it is dangerous to be on the road.' When their
eyes were opened, the night was turned into day. It is no longer
dangerous to be on the road when you have your eyes opened! It is
a wonderful thing to have our spiritual eyes opened.
Let us all pray every day that
we shall not only hear the Scriptures expounded, but that a great
act of God shall be done in us whereby our spiritual eyes are
opened to see and know the Lord.
First published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Jan-Feb 1966, Vol 44-1