Recognizing Jesus

“I know who you are—the Holy one of God!” (Luke 4:34)

These words were addressed to Jesus from an evil spirit who was in possession of a man in a synagogue in Capernaum.  Jesus had come to the synagogue and began to teach the people.  Luke reports that the people “were amazed at his teaching because his message had authority.”  The man with the demon and evil spirit cried out, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy one of God!” (Luke 4:31-37)

How ironic!  Most of the Jewish people – the religious leaders, those in authority, even the people from his home town, did not recognize Jesus for who he was—the Son of the living God.  Yet, throughout the gospels, we see reports of evil spirits who recognize Jesus, cower at his presence and beg him not to destroy them. 

We should not be too critical of the people of Jesus’ day in not to recognizing him, for how often have we failed to recognize Jesus’ presence in our lives?

The world and its many attractions, demands and cares often dull our senses to the presence of Jesus.  Our busyness causes us to overlook his work in us and others.  Our low expectations of God obscure his action in our lives.

This past weekend I had the privilege of taking communion to men in a local jail and also to the elderly in a nearby nursing home.  I saw Jesus in the men who were eager to understand Sunday’s gospel readings.  They are searching for the truth in acknowledging their circumstances and in desiring to bring change to their lives.

I saw the face of Jesus in Phyllis, bedridden in the nursing home, but with a big smile she was eager to recite the Lord’s Prayer and receive communion.

It is not uncommon for us to miss the presence of Jesus in our family and those closest to us.  When I take time to reflect, I see Jesus in my wife who recently cooked a meal for a neighbor who is going through chemotherapy for her second bout with ovarian cancer.   I see Jesus in our four adult children who are all raising active families and passing on our heritage of faith to their children.  I see Jesus in our three sons-in-law who live out their faith in their business and professional lives.

I see Jesus in our son and his wife who, through their photography business, capture the beauty, love and sacredness of marriage.

Mother Theresa used to say that one of her motivations for serving the poorest of the poor was that she saw the face of Jesus in every one of them.  How many times have I failed to see the face of Jesus in the homeless person with a sign asking for money at a busy intersection?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

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