After the Lord rose on Easter morning, He appeared to some of His followers when they didn’t recognize Him. Mary thought at first that the Lord was the gardener (John 20:15). Later, on a two-hour walk to Emmaus, the Lord spoke of all the prophecies about Himself in the Scriptures, yet they did not recognize Him till after they reached their destination (Luke 24:16). Later, the Lord appeared to seven disciples after they had been fishing (unsuccessfully) all night, and again they did not recognize the Lord until He gave them a miraculous catch of fish.

One reason why they did not recognize the Lord is that they weren’t expecting to see Him, even though He had told them to watch for Him, and that He would rise again on the third day. It seems that the walk to Emmaus is symbolic of our walk through life. The Lord is by our side, guiding and teaching us about Himself, but we may not realize how close He is. Yet after the fact when we reflect on our past life we can see ways in which the Lord has been leading us.

We are allowed to see divine providence from behind but not face to face, and when we are in a spiritual state, not in a materialistic state. Seeing divine providence from behind but not face to face is seeing it after the fact but not before; and seeing it when we are in a spiritual state and not in a materialistic state is seeing it from heaven and not from this world. Everyone who accepts inflow from heaven and recognizes divine providence (and especially people who have become spiritual by virtue of their reformation), on seeing events in their amazing kind of sequence, virtually sees providence from a deep recognition and confesses it. Such people do not want to see it face to face, that is, before things happen, because they are afraid their own volition would interfere with some element of its orderly sequence. (Divine Providence 187)

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways…. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:1-10)