Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recognizing Jesus

I’ve been really taken recently with the passages of Jesus appearing after his resurrection. It seems that in many of the encounters people had a hard time recognizing him. I keep pondering the reason for that.

Is it that he looked totally different? Is it because it was so far from what they expected to see? or was it that God kept them from recognizing him?

I think that all three apply. His resurrection body was different than his human body. He was able to appear and disappear instantly. But, it wasn’t totally different because he ate several times after his resurrection and the nail prints stayed in his hands and feet.

Even though Jesus had told his disciples many times what the plan was: he was going to die and then be resurrected, I find that when something is outside of our experience, we have a hard time holding onto the thought. When his friends stood watching him die, all his promises seemed empty and meaningless. Their dream seemed to fall to the ground and die, just like his mangled body.

Luke 24 tells us that God kept the friends on the Road to Emmaus from recognizing Jesus. They walked for hours on the road talking with Jesus but it wasn’t until he sat at their table and broke the bread that their eyes opened and they realized that they had been with Jesus all along.

Where do our eyes need to be opened in our realization that Jesus has been present all along?

Is it in the disappointment of a broken relationship? Or is it in the realization of a lifelong accomplishment?

Is it in the struggle of a partnership in our work? Or is it in the meaningful friendship with our neighbor?

We are so much like the disciples. We have short memories. We tell ourselves that we are alone in our struggle, and we take credit for the milestones that we reach.

But, our thoughts are not our truth.

This is the truth. Jesus is as present today as he was the day he walked with the friends on the road to Emmaus. He is with us every time we sit at the table and break bread. He is with us in our broken dreams and in our fulfilling passions.

Sometimes we get a glimpse. The disciples got a glimpse of Jesus in all his fullness on the mountain when he transfigured before their very eyes. They wanted to build a memorial to keep the event alive.

But, our memorial needs to be when we take the glimpse and build our faith into a place where we remember that Jesus is present in every situation, every interaction, every moment of our life.

His promise to us is real, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Take that promise and put it to the test. Begin to imagine that Jesus is actually physically present with you. What would you say to him? How would you hang out with him? Where would you invite him to go with you during the day?

This will show you where you believe and where you doubt. And that is the starting point for a life of greater meaning as we live life with the One who loves us and created us.

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