In which there is crazy theological speculation about resurrection

by Craig on May 11, 2011

Here comes just about as wild of a theological theory as you will ever read from me. And I don’t speak from Sinai, and I could be all wrong on this – it’s just my opinion. But from the very first time I heard this story I needed an answer.


Two people are walking along a well worn and wide path. Saddened and confused they try to piece together something from the remnants of disappointment.

One of them has a name and he may have been a father of one of the apostles, or a husband of one of the Mary’s at the foot of the cross, or both. This guy? He knew Jesus.

And as they’re chatting Jesus sidles up next to them – and they don’t recognize him.

What’s up with that?

Luke gives a one line explanation, “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him”. He liked explaining things, Luke.

Literally the word for what happened to their eyes was that they were “held”. Some translations say God stopped them from seeing, but the text doesn’t say that.

Bottom line is they just didn’t recognize him.

And they weren’t alone in this. The Mary who saw him at the tomb, she thought he was a groundskeeper. What’s up with that?

Here’s the wild theory.

As humans we’re either growing or decaying. Our bodies up to a certain age, maybe 17 ish for a girl and 20 ish for a guy, create more cells then are discarded. Then for the rest of our lives more cells die off than are created.

But that means, there must be some moment after the growing, and before the decaying, that the body creates exactly the same amount of cells as it discards.

Lock in a moment before that and we’d always be growing and changing.
Lock in one after it and we’d die.


What if our resurrected bodies are transfixed in that magical moment where there is no growing or decaying – but just being?

I look at me, for prom at about 18

and me at a beach volleyball tournament at about 33

and I look kinda the same – but kinda not.

Our Lord at age 20 – then at age 33 – he looked kinda the same – and kinda not.

But if you knew the 33 year old me – and then began talking with the 20 year old me – you’d recognize things gradually. The pattern of my speaking, my laugh, my eyes, my mannerisms. You’d think, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Is this why they didn’t recognize him – but then suddenly they did – and only after walking with him for a little bit, and hearing him talk, and sitting with him? This 20 year old Jesus would have “held” their eyes, prevented them from recognizing him for a while. No?

Really, don’t we all wonder what the resurrected body will be like after this one we have is done? I’ll take that 2o year old body please and thank you. And if you’re a girl – would you want to trade out of that 17 year old body?

There are no tears in heaven so if you get there and you want to order up a 30 or 50 year old body I think God’ll say OK. I’m guessing you won’t.

So suddenly it’s not so weird that those guys wouldn’t have recognized someone they knew so well. And Mary at the tomb? I can get why she didn’t either.

And all those Roman and Jewish authorities prowling the streets looking for that body that would disprove and destroy Christianity before it even go started – but not finding it? Like parables that revealed truths to believers but hid the truth from the “rejecters” he may have been right in front of their eyes the whole time.

Call me crazy – but I haven’t heard a better explanation. Have you?

Just sayin’.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa notes... May 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

It is a crazy thing that they didn’t recognize Jesus. But I don’t have a better explanation either.

I think I’d like to return to my body of about 25 yrs old. :-) It’s long gone.


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm

It is crazy – a mystery. I heart my explanation – and I remember a post of a picture on your blog once – a 15-16ish Lisa – awesome fashion sense :) Thank you Lisa – God bless you.


Tracy May 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

HHHmmm…thoughts to ponder more.


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I know my theory is out there – but it’s my idea – I heart it – whatever awaits – the resurrected body is a good good thing. Than you Tracy – thank you – and God Bless you.


Grace Walker May 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

Perhaps their eyes were so filled with grief and loss they would not even have recognized themselves in a mirror? Or maybe, like Moses, they were veiled?


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Could be the veiled thing – amen – or the grief thing. I’ve thought like you – great minds…
We will know one day… thank you Grace – God Bless you.


Anna May 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

This is one of my favorite passages after the Resurrection. I also wonder that at the moment they did recognize Jesus, that he vanished right then. Right at that moment, eyes opened, to be full of questions, and then he’s gone! (And I’d go back to about 25 or so. :)


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

It’s not so bad for them – I have a feeling they saw him again before he left the final time – they did after all go running to the apostles right afterwards. I’m with you on the body thing – I’ll settle for the size 25 too. Thank you Anna. God bless you.


Cora May 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

I’m with Anna on this one. I fantasize a lot walking that road. Sometimes I think I would have been in a state of grief and horror and disappointment after what had happened. Othertimes, I think that maybe I would have been the one who recognized Him. (that’s the puffed up ME speaking there!) I love this passage mainly BECAUSE of the mystery and leaves us with our jaws dropped and a little awe struck — nosey questions we can ask when we find these two on the streets of Heaven! I never liked my own body or was comfortable in my skin —- I’ll be VERY happy with the whole new thing!


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

It is a very magic-y passage – like when he took that resurrected body of his and entered a room with a locked door. Heart that one!!And when we get to heaven – we get what we want – we’ll want what HE wants – and all sizes will fit – and ALL insecurities gone – thy kingdom come!! God bless you Cora.


Kris May 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

What an interesting take on it. I know I have always kind of snorted at that passage about them not recognizing him, and thought, “how could they NOT know it was him?!” but you have caused me to think about this some more 😉 Thank you for that! Bless you!


Craig May 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Kris. I heart when you comment – my spam catcher is just flat out in LOVE with your comments though – seems like everyone of them it grabs. Of the over 1000 spam comments I had this week – on just THIS blog – yours were the only two it gobbled up. I promise I’ll always check – and your picture sticks out among them when I’m looking at them – I’m pretty sure I’ll catch every one – so please keep commenting – even though my spam catcher has a serious crush on you!!

Now about these two guys – my very first reaction, way back when, was SERIOUSLY?? Then I thought it must be some resurrected body magic – then I thought – no – that doesn’t sound very Jesus-y, then I thought he was all glowy or something – but they MIGHT have noticed that – then I thought maybe grief – but if a few days after my mom left this earth she tapped me on the shoulders as I was getting into my car – I’d notice- I’d be freaked out – but I’d notice and recognize. I think about time and eternity a lot – this theory just kinda fits in with that. Kris thank you so much for reading – sorry for the delay getting back to you – but seriously, stop being so attractive to my spam catcher :) God Bless.


A. May 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I have always wondered why they didn’t recognize Him, too. I assumed somehow it was a matter of God ‘closing’ and ‘opening’ their eyes like He hardened Pharoah’s heart. (there’s another mystery I would like to know that answer to-what’s that all about when God ‘hardens’ someone’s heart?)


Craig May 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Also interesting in that hardening of Pharaoh’s heart – sometimes he hardened his own heart too – it kind of alternates. I have thought about this – and studied it – my fave answer is that it had something to do with timing – maybe everything had to play out in such a way that Pharaoh would send them away – and then go after them – and then corner them – just in time for the big miracle – all the emotions of all involved hitting at the right place and time. It’s that whole butterfly effect thing – I’m sure it’s complicated – but I suspect it was a timing thing. God Bless you A.


Dawn May 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Dear Craig,

Confession time here on several levels. I never got too concerned about people not recognizing Jesus after the resurrection for two reasons. 1) They never really expected Him to rise from the dead so they were probably trying to deny they thought it was Him if they did recognize Him 2) (this is the confession part) I suffer from prosopagnosia, an inability to recognize faces. Recent research in neuropsychiatry thinks it is genetically-transmitted, separate from intelligence they quickly add, smile! I guess it isn’t so strange for someone like me not to wonder why someone is not being recognized.

Second confession, I think the guy with the volley ball is quite a hunk. Your profile picture doesn’t do you justice. I am really surprised reading through the comments that no one else mentioned this!
You’ve come a long way from your prom days.

I’m glad I dropped over after reading Laska,


Craig May 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Your first point – true. That could have been the simple reason. And prosopagnosia, wow – thank you for sharing that. We all have our things. No? And thank you – but that guy playing volleyball that was before the sleep thing took over. I never really aged, was never out of shape – the sleep thing – that changed it all. Plus it was 17 years ago :) God bless you Dawn – and thank you {{{blush}}}


Debbie May 12, 2011 at 2:19 am

I like the theory! :) I would love to be able to think up a theory. ha! God bless you and all the things you and He discuss!


Craig May 12, 2011 at 11:31 am

I think too much – and all the time – about to much stuff – the sleep thing has slowed that down – but my brain never stops. It’s just the focusing thing that’s hard. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr focus. God bless you Deb.


Michelle May 12, 2011 at 5:45 am

I’ve always thought that they looked through grief, and even though Christ said He would be resurrected they maybe didn’t really believe it, so weren’t expecting to see Him (people don’t usually see what they don’t expect to be there).
Talking of resurrections …… I’ve always wondered about those who were raised from the dead when Christ died (Matt 27:51-53). How they were changed, their families’ responses etc.


Craig May 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

It could have been grief Michelle. But I know if days after my mom died – and she just was there beside me? I’d recognize her grief or no. I might not believe my eyes – but I’d know. SO I think it was more than grief. And good question about all those resurrected people walking around. Ive wondered myself.


Bristol May 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

Haha, I love it, Craig. These resurrection stories have been captivating me lately, also! So mystical and powerful and fascinating! Thanks for these thoughts.
Also, I couldn’t find my previous comment, but sure, shoot me an email. I’d love to check in with you about it. Thanks for having genuine care.


Craig May 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

Well resurrection – we use the word so much it loses it’s power – but it is as you put it Bristol, “mystical and powerful and fascinating!” If there’s a missing comment it’s probably in my spam catcher. I get more than 2000 of those each week – sometimes almost that many in a day – but I check each one personally before deleting it. Right now there are 700 unchecked ones. Thank you for your kind words Bristol. and God Bless.


Melanie May 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Ok, you definitely have me thinking today!!!! Hmm…… Great theory. I’ve never stopped to take the time to think about this — now you have me thinking… Thank you!
This is beautiful!!

I would love for you to come link up your post at my “Encouragement is Contagious!” linky party! And… please link up some of your other favorites from blogs you love! Then, those bloggers will also get lots of unexpected, encouraging comments! It’s all about encouraging one another for His praise!



Craig May 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Thank you Melanie – it was kind of a magical thing that happened – I’ve always thought it deserved some kind of a magical explanation. I will drop by and link up sometime. I heart your blog. And you know what? I miss the twitter handle Meloditter. Hearted that! God bless you Melanie.


Melanie May 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

You’re right! It is a magical thing! That’s for sure :-) Thanks so much for your kind words about my blog! I really appreciate that.
… I’ve never heard of ‘Meloditter’ but I’ll have to check it out.

have a great day!


Craig May 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Sorry – small male brain got confused – that’s a different Melanie – doh. I hope you have a great day too!!!


Christina May 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

We talked about the same thing in my bible study recently. How about the fact that he has scars? Does that mean that our scars from here will stay with us? Or was that just for him?


Craig May 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Christina – the scars from most everything I’ve ever read were just for him. He may still have them. He may not – but they were definitely for a purpose back then. And you know, they weren’t scars at all come to think of it – they were wounds – holes – clear through the hands and feet. These guys were missing clues – but they finally got it – good for them. As for us – I’m thinking “new body” means new body – and kind of a special one too. I’m taking the 22 year old version myself :) God Bless you Christina – really good questions – the only reason I have an opinion is that I’ve thought about it long and hart before – You know – great minds think alike :)


bluecottonmemory May 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

When my 95 year old grandmother who helped raise me died, I pictured her spirit as that 17 year old girl, racing her horse against the trains in Normandy, KY. I’m hoping I have the same blonde hair I had at 5 – LOL – I always thought that maybe they didn’t “see” Jesus because they weren’t expecting Him. When you don’t expect Him to show up, you’re not going to “see “him.” However, I’m sure that when our bodies will be transformed into how God see us. It will be odd to hug my grandfather and grandmother when they don’t look like how I last hugged them:) What a wonderfully, thoughtful, intriguing post!


Craig May 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Thank you – and 5 year old blonde hair – I somehow don’t think that’ll be a problem for God. I have this image of seeing my mom as a bobby-soxer – Olivia Newton John from Grease – except dark hair – and before the leather outfit (blargh – meh). Thank you very much for this comment – all of it. I’m smiling as I’m typing – God Bless you!!


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