Do we recognize the risen Jesus when we see him?
On the days following Jesus’ resurrection, most of his closest followers did not recognize him in their first encounter.
Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus until he said her name, “Mary.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus even after he spent considerable time with them explaining what all of the scriptures had to say about him. It was only at his breaking of the bread while dining with them that they recognized him.
The Gospel of John reports that seven of the disciples while fishing on the Sea of Galilee, did not recognize Jesus about a hundred yards away on shore until after he suggested they cast their nets on the right side of the boat where they caught 153 large fish. Then John said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!
How often do we fail to see the risen Lord in our lives? Like Mary Magdalene, he may be calling us by name. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he may be opening our minds to the meaning of some scripture. Like the seven disciples fishing, he may be suggesting we take an action that will have a surprising (miraculous) result.
Today, as I am writing this blog, we are celebrating the 31st birthday of our daughter Emily who was born with Down syndrome. At the time of her birth I did not recognize the presence of the risen Lord in our midst. Later I came to see Jesus in her big beautiful smile, her purity of heart, and her natural inclination to love and hug the people she meets.
While we may not always recognize Jesus in the people or circumstances of our lives, the apostle John in his first letter says that “God is love.” Wherever there is love, Jesus is present. Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Mt. 25:35-36) Jesus is telling us that when we love others through our actions, we love him.
In the musical Les Miserables, ValJean’s closing words are:
The truth that once was spoken.
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.”
Let us offer love and receive love, so someone can say, “It’s the Lord.”