Key Number Five: And Their Eyes Were Opened

We have spent the last four weeks discussing the story of Emmaus from Luke 24.  We have already seen that this last Chapter of Luke’s Gospel serves not only as the wonderful literary transition to his second volume – Acts – but also as a spiritual key, or set of spiritual keys, to the whole story of the messiahship of Yeshua and the restricted eyes of his disciples in the Luke’s writing.

Today we are going to talk about the last, and most crucial key: that their eyes were opened. We will remember that, on the way there, the eyes of the disciples were restrained by God himself and they didn’t recognize Yeshua.  Then, when the appointed time came, their eyes were opened, also by God Himself. The timing here is of utmost importance: we know that 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 taken place.

We need to examine some Greek here. We have already seen that both verbs – restrained and opened – represent 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].  Let us try to contemplate the essence of this pivotal moment. First of all, it is important to mention that, according to scholarly opinion, the Greek of Luke is the best of the four Gospels. It is likely that Greek was the evangelist’s native tongue. There can be little doubt, therefore, that Luke knew the LXX (the Septuagint) well and, was probably influenced by it.  Indeed, he seems to be so comfortable with Greek that he is able to adapt his style to different circumstances and sources. For instance, the Greek of the Prologue (1:1-4) is classical, while the Greek of the infancy narrative is purposely semitized; the Greek of the sermons in Acts seems to be affected by the circumstances of each speaker.  Therefore, the comparative analysis of the Greek forms used by Luke, with those of the LXX, might be very helpful.

In Greek, the line their eyes were opened looks like this: δε διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι. We have already seen that 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 and in the same very 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 in Luke 24.  Yes, Adam and Eve realized, for the very first time, that they were naked, but it was so much more than just that! 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 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 saw everything only in His light and the light of His reality – then 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 the spiritual reality, able to see only 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 will be opened again, but this time, opened in the reverse direction, to see that which is invisible to usual, weighed-down human vision.

In the light of all this, we can understand that the statement we find in Luke 24:31 does indeed bear a manifestation of this major reversal of vision. In Romans, Paul writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous”[5]; and though it is certainly beyond our subject here to deal with the Christian theological understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as restoring the original state of the universe, it is important for us to highlight – and I am not aware that anyone has addressed this fact up to now – this striking symmetry between διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι in Luke 24, and διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι in Genesis 3.    

Thus, the whole story of Luke’s Gospel is reshaped and retold by this chapter.   A great writer, Luke wants us to review his whole Gospel in the light shed from this story.  Here, in the very last chapter of his Gospel, the evangelist shows us very vividly, the secret of the restrained and opened eyes: although everything about this stranger should have to reminded them of Yeshua, they perceived a mere man, not recognizing him until the moment when their eyes were opened by a sovereign act of God.

This is the culmination, not only of the whole story about the disciples, but of the whole Gospel as well: this striking symmetry between the phrase their eyes were opened in Luke 24, as against their eyes were opened in Genesis 3, helps us to understand the depth and enormity of what happened on the road to Emmaus – so this is our key for today, and our last key from this chapter, KEY NUMBER FIVE: AND THEIR EYES WERE OPENED. This key describes the crucial change in the status of the universe when Yeshua  is recognized as Messiah (though He becomes invisible). Next week, we will start to deal with the lessons and the conclusions of the Hidden Messiah series, and we will review all the keys we’ve been talking about and sum up all the ideas that we have discussed so far.

 

 

[1] Luk.24:16

[2] Luk.24:31

[3] Gen.3:7

[4] Gen.3:22

[5] Rom 5.19

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 (57 comments)

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  1. Henrietta Wisbey

    Dear Julia
    Eye wateringly beautiful!
    The house was filled with the glory of God that night
    As the Son of righteousness arose with healing in His wings.
    From the garden to the city
    They returned……
    Henrietta

    1. Julia Blum

      Beautiful! thank you so much Henrietta!

  2. Jimmie Snow

    I really appreciate your incite of the scripture. I like the fact that you are willing to take the time to go into your thought more deeply. I have been to Israel 45 times since 1969. I studied Hebrew for 8 years, and love learning.

    Thank you,

    Jimmie

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Jimmie, for your kind words! I am especially blessed to hear them from someone with such a love for Israel and for Hebrew! Blessings!

  3. Sue

    PS, from Sue. I meant to say revelUtionary. Sorry!

  4. Sue

    Thank you so much for this teaching, it is revAlationary! Indeed I have never heard these two verses ( from Genesis and Luke ) brought together before. Perhaps I need to look at the LXX more often!
    Every blessing

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Sue, neither have I – and it is so strange, because this parallel is so beautiful and so meaningful.

  5. Leaky Kaburu

    As an artist, observation of key features over a subject, is important. What I see is not only the figure ahead, but telepathic vision..Did Yeshua look like the way most artists portray Him?..I once saw a distinct light with a silhoutte figure behind and that image still haunts me.

    1. Julia Blum

      Yes, Leaky, I understand your point and can relate to it. sometimes the images we see , can define our understanding or perception for a long time. That’s why I am trying to be very careful when I choose a picture for the post. The problem is that the choice is very limited, and sometimes I have to be satisfied by what they have, even if it’s not what I wanted.

  6. Rudolf van Leusen

    Shalom Julia,

    This subject has been occupying my mind very much lately. I have been preaching about the Emmaus story and we have been blessed but this beautiful symmetry ads so much depth and spiritual revelation to it all. I wished I had seen this before. Thank you again for adding another precious jewel to our spiritual treasury.

    1. Julia Blum

      Shalom Rudolf, great to hear from you! Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to these pages. I don’t think I’ve heard your voice here, and I hope to hear it much more!

  7. Marci Howard

    Greetings Julia. I want to thank you for the wonderful insight of Gen. 3 and Luke 24. I am praising G-d for the opening of understanding of how the universe was put back into order at that moment. Thank you. Best one yet!

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Marci, I am so blessed by your kind words!

  8. Fr Youssef Chehata

    This is WONDERFUL
    Many thanks
    I believe that this idea of ” eyes were opened” also introduces the next Gospel of John which repeatedly emphasized the idea of ” see and believe” and ” come and see”
    Many thanks to you
    Fr Youssef Chehata

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, I am so glad you found this article helpful!

  9. Patrick Kelley

    Obedience brings peace in decision making. If we have firmly made up our minds to follow the commandments, we will not have to redecide which path to take when temptation comes our way.

  10. Gwen Staveley

    HI Julia
    This is spine-chillingly wonderful. Thank you for sharing these things – I am studying Hebrew – but I cannot read Greek and would have totally missed this exciting insight.

    Thank you so much.