The Global Reversal (the Transitional Chapter – 4)

We already know that the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel serves not only as a wonderful literary transition to his second volume, Acts, but also as the spiritual key to the whole story of the hidden messiahship of Jesus—to understanding the restrained and the opened eyes in his Gospel.

You will of course remember that eventually, when the appointed time came, the eyes of the disciples were opened: “ Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” The timing here is of utmost importance: it happened at the specific moment of breaking the bread, leaving the disciples holding the bread in their hands, no doubt overwhelmed and trembling at the enormity of what had just happened. And what exactly had happened? Let us try to contemplate the essence of this pivotal moment – as Luke sees and describes it.

We need to examine some Greek here. We have already seen that both verbs—restrained and openedare used in the passive forms in both English and Greek: first, their eyes were restrained: Οφθαλμοι αυτων εκρατουντο,[1] then the crucial moment came, and their eyes were opened: δε διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι.[2] The word Δι-ανοιγω means completely, totally opened. This word is found several times in the Septuagint, but the only time in the entire Septuagint when this full line occurs in the same way, in the very same wording as it is found in Luke, δε διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι, is in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, in one of the most dramatic scenes in Scripture. When Adam and Eve (Hava) sinned—when they violated the command God gave them and ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, when sin first entered the world, when everything changed and everything was turned upside down at this fateful moment of creation—it says: And their eyes were opened…[3]

What does this mean, that Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened? This passage from the book of Genesis helps us to better comprehend the enormous change that Luke describes. The Fall was not simply one of the main events in the history of creation, it was a global cataclysm—a total change in the status and structure of the universe. What the Bible describes as the eyes (of Adam and Eve) being opened is one of the most substantial and fundamental manifestations and consequences of this global change. Adam and Eve, who had until then seen God in His reality, and seen everything only in His light and the light of His reality, began to see the world with a clouded, sinful vision, which from that time onward, became and has remained humanity’s vision of reality. The ability to see God that was originally given to them grew dim and was lost, and even Adam and Eve, not to mention their descendants, began to see this world the way humanity would continue to see it throughout the ages: weighed down, material, and physical. They left His presence—and their eyes were opened to this worldview. From now on, to see the invisible, man would need faith. That is why the Lord was so concerned that they would not put out their hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever;[4] that they would not remain forever like that—incapable of seeing spiritual reality, able to see only the material and physical. And from that moment in the third chapter of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, when their eyes were opened to this world and they needed to hide themselves from the LORD, God has been dealing with Tikkun Olam (repair of the world); from that moment on, He has been looking forward to the moment when the eyes of people would be opened again, but this time, opened in the reverse direction—to see that which is invisible to this sinful, weighed-down human vision.

According to scholarly opinion, the Greek of Luke is the best of all four Gospels. It is likely that Greek was the evangelist’s native tongue. There can be little doubt that Luke knew the LXX (the Septuagint) very well and was probably influenced by it. Therefore, we can suggest that this striking symmetry between   διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι in Luke 24, and διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι in Genesis 3:7 is intentional, and that Luke purposely shows here a major reversal of Genesis 3, and he wants his readers to understand, not only the depth and enormity of what happened on the road to Emmaus, but the crucial change in the status of the universe when the Messiahship of Jesus is revealed and recognized.

It’s important to remember, however, that not only were the eyes of the disciples opened, but right at that moment, Jesus became invisible to them. Thus, Luke presents his Emmaus story as a type and symbol of the major reversal of Genesis 3. This global reversal is completed and confirmed by Luke 24:31: the eyes of the disciples were opened—to see the invisible!

Luke is the only Gospel that has the story of Emmaus, and he wants his readers to see that the disciples don’t recognize Jesus while he is with them and visible to their eyes, but that their eyes are opened and they recognize him only when He disappears from their visible sight. The transition that we witness here is from the Messiah visible, but not recognized— to the Messiah recognized, but invisible. In this sense, the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel symbolizes the whole message and provides an excellent transition from the first volume to the second volume of his writing:  from Messiah visible but hidden, to Messiah revealed but invisible.

 

If you’ve  liked this article, you might enjoy also my book As Though Hiding His Face, discussing in depth the story of  the  Transitional Chapter and  restrained and opened eyes.  You  can get  this and my other books through my page on this blog,  https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/julia-blum/.

 

[1] Luke.24:16

[2] Luke 24:29

[3] Gen  3:7

[4] Gen 3:22

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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Join the conversation (11 comments)

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  1. Ron Grimes

    Profound! Loved it.

  2. Suliaman lbn Smith

    Prof.,
    Thanks for the spiritual insight of knowledge you have given us.
    May G-d Richly Bless you with Wisdom and Understanding from Him.
    Todah Prof.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Suliaman and Nico and Mandla and James, I am really blessed and touched by your kind and generous words. Blessings!

  3. Nico Mettler

    These works are absolutely amazing. Thank you prof for your amazing insight.

  4. Mandla

    Shalom, Prof J Blum

    Thankyou so much. I’m blessed. Your work is not in vain.

    Thanks again
    Much appreciated.

  5. James

    As one has said, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and they became “sin-conscious.”
    The disciples eyes were opened and they became “Christ-conscious”!
    Christ came to take our eyes off of our sin and onto the Savior from sin! Hallelujah!

  6. Hans Käser

    Thank you very much, dear sister Julia, for gsharing this connection between Genesis 3 and Luke 24. Could we, from here, even make the connection to 1 John 3:2: ‘But we know that when Christ appears, we shall BE LIKE HIM, FOR WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS.’ – As you write: ‘from Messiah visible but hidden, to Messiah revealed but invisible’ – to the Messiah revealed and visible – in perfect communion…
    I’m just preparing a course (in Spanish, for peruvian students) on ‘Old Testament Theology’. Your contribution is just one more blessibg from the Lord and from his precious Scriptures given to us…:)!

    1. Julia Blum

      Yes, Hans, since this transition between “visible ” and “invisible” is very important to all the New Testament writers, I believe
      there are several connections that can be made from here and many New Testament Scriptures that can be seen in this light. .

  7. Dr.Ray Russomanno,MD

    Such a beautiful Biblical discussion between Luke 24 and Genesis 3✝️

    1. Beth

      Thak you Julia, that was most enlightening. I always enjoy you blog.

      1. Julia Blum

        Thank you, Beth and Dr. Ray, for your kind words. I am so happy these articles are helpful.