In Luke 24, two disciples of Jesus were walking to Emmaus. As they walked along the road, the resurrected Lord joined them, but they didn’t recognise Him. We are told that “their eyes were kept from recognising him” (Luke 24:16).
They were Jesus’ own disciples, and yet they didn’t recognise Him. Why and how? How could you not recognise someone you had lived with for over three years? Mark’s account of this same incident gives us the answer. “After these things he appeared in another form to the two of them, as they were walking into the country” (Mark 16:12).
The reason these disciples didn’t recognise Jesus was because He was in another form. This might not mean He looked like another person or had different physical features. That same day, just moment after this encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem and showed them the print of the nails in His hands and feet (Luke 24:39). This was the same Jesus they had intimately known before. He bore the marks of crucifixion in His resurrected body. But they didn’t know Him because He was no longer in a physical body. He was in a spiritual, glorified body. They were looking with physical eyes that could only see physical things, and Jesus was in a spiritual body that could only be fully recognised with spiritual eyes.
What can we learn? That spiritual things may only be perceived by our spiritual beings. Just as Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”.
What Jesus was saying was, flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. You cannot perceive the spirit through the senses of the flesh. They are totally different worlds, or realms, of reality.
The Apostle Paul made this same point in 1 Corinthians 2:14 where he said, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God: for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
The physical senses can’t discern spiritual things. This isn’t speaking only of understanding spiritual truths with our physical minds; this also applies to seeing spiritual realities with our eyes or feeling spiritual things with our emotions. Of course there are exceptions where God opened physical eyes to enable people to see angels and even heaven, but regularly the only way to access the spirit realm is through our spirits by faith.
How have you been seeing? Do you sense the spiritual by faith in Christ or do you just merely discern with your physical eyes?