There is an perplexity among those who meet Jesus after His resurrection – they fail to recognise him. It was only once the Holy Spirit came among them at Pentecost that the apostles understood who had been in their midst – in other words it was in hindsight that they knew who it was and not at the time. Something seemed to prevent them seeing who it was.
Newman suggests that this reveals, “the trace of a general principle which comes before us again and again both in scripture and in the world, that God’s presence is not discerned at the time when it is upon us but afterwards when we look back upon what is gone and over.”
Jesus’ life gives us evidence for this law. Philip asked to see the Father, failing to grasp the privileged access he had already enjoyed; ‘Have I been with you so long a time and yet you do not know me, Philip?’
It is true for me too that it is only some time after an event that I recognise the presence of God active in my life.