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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Emmaus Gift (aka "Passing Unseen")

One unusual category of miracles is identified as "passing unseen", or as I call it, "The Emmaus Gift".

There are a few instances of Jesus Christ passing unseen or unrecognized. Such events occurred both before and after the resurrection. The first is described in Luke:

"And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
But he passing through the midst of them went his way" (Luke 4:28-30).

Elsewhere in Luke, we read:

"And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:13-32)

In modern times, the Emmaus Gift (passing unseen) also provided protection, just as when the Lord was protected by the miracle.  The Prophet Joseph Smith was once benefited by it:

"The branch of the Church at Colesville was also suffering persecution; and the Prophet had to forget for the time all his personal afflictions. In the latter part of August, 1880, he called to his company John Whitmer, David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith, and went to comfort and instruct Joseph Knight and those who were associated with him. Such fierce threats had been uttered by the mobocrats who sympathized with the Presbyterian ministers, that Joseph and his brethren felt that they were risking their lives in thus journeying to Colesville. They joined together in mighty prayer, beseeching God that He would blind the eyes of their enemies, and permit them to go and come without recognition by the wicked. The Prophet informed his companions that their prayer would be answered, and the angel of the Lord would protect them and cover with a veil the vision of the murderous mob. They made no effort to disguise themselves, but traveled through Colesville to the house of Joseph Knight in broad day, meeting a score of their persecutors. A reward had been offered to anyone who would give information of Joseph's return; and among those whom they met were many who would gladly have earned the money, even at the expense of the Prophet's life. But no one said a harsh word to Joseph and his companions, and they were treated merely as ordinary strangers passing through the village. A meeting of the branch was held that night, and the Spirit of God was poured out upon the believers in rich abundance. They were all made firm by the blessing given, and filled with a determination to yield nothing of their faith, though the anger of the wicked should be visited upon them through robbery or even death." (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, p. 94)

So was President Wilford Woodruff:

"During the antipolygamy crusade in the 1880s in Utah, President Wilford Woodruff experienced the same type of miracle. While meeting with other Church leaders in the Historian's Office in Salt Lake City, Wilford Woodruff noticed that the building had been surrounded by federal marshals. Realizing that they had warrants for his arrest, he prayed that the Lord would help him escape. He walked out of the Historian's Office, crossed the street, and "passed unseen." As he noted in his journal, "the eyes of all the marshals was closed by the power of God." (Donald Q. Cannon, "The Grasshopper War of 1855 and the Provo Sugar Miracle," Ensign, Feb. 1986, pp. 60-61.) This miracle was recorded in the journals of numerous eyewitnesses." (Donald Q. Cannon, Acting Dean of Religious Education Brigham Young University, "Miracles: Meridian and Modern", The 1990 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament)

Interestingly enough, just recently, scientists have discovered what may likely turn on or off our ability to recognize faces (watch the video, where a test subject gets 4 mAmps -- and later 3 mAmps -- applied to a very specific region of his brain, called the fusiform gyrus):

Some fascinating comments from the test subject:

"Only your face changed; everything else stayed the same."
"All of a sudden you were you, and then you weren't you."
"You could have been someone else standing in front of me."

Interestingly, the phenomenon was most pronounced when looking at human faces, and not inanimate objects like a balloon or TV -- hence the test subject's comment, "So far, the most significant change is around your face."


Your thoughts?


  1. A woman, Immaculee Ilibagiza, wrote of a similar experience in her book called Left to Tell: Finding God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. It's a powerful book about her experience hiding during the holocaust and how she learned that she had to push away all negative thoughts in order to overcome her terror. She learned that the only way to do that was to constantly pray and to focus on the Lord. It was a beautiful miracle.
    I am trying to focus on the Lord and miracles so that I am not overcome by the challenges and fear of these last days. Thank you for your blog that helps me to do that!

  2. Thank you for your post on this. I feel this "Emmaus gift" or ability to appear in "another form" can also be used by the Lord to help us recognize and accept a message from the other side of the veil. Let me explain. There are times when ancestors or deceased famly members are permitted to come to loved ones through dreams or personnel visitations. Many times these departed spirits will take on a certain appearance we remember them most by in mortality. For intance if your grandpa Jo wore these green overalls all the time he may choose to come to you dressed this way since that's how you rememember him most by. However I feel this is not what what he is actually wearing. Instead I think is using this "Emmaus gift".
    Just a thought.

  3. This reminds me of a story my cousin told me. She was a young girl. And she was with a couple friends. A scary bad man was chasing them. They jumped into a window well. The man came and looked into the window well looking around frantically. He did not see them. They were protected and hidden from his sight. Pretty amazing.