So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. – 2 Corinthians 5:16
The Disciples Didn’t Recognize Jesus?
Have you ever considered that the disciples had trouble recognizing Jesus after the resurrection? Mary mistook Him for a gardener (John 20:15). Two others walked all the way to Emmaus before recognizing Him (Luke 24:13-16). The disciples in the upper room thought He was a ghost (Luke 24:36-37).
In every movie depicting the resurrection, Jesus looks exactly the same. What is so different about Him on this side of the resurrection that the disciples couldn’t recognize Him?
I know it had to be hard to believe He had risen from the dead. Still, Jesus told them He would rise; the women told them He had risen; and those on the way to Emmaus went back to Jerusalem to tell the others. But, even more than that, the disciples after seeing Jesus, saw Him again and still questioned it.
Peter and the disciples went fishing. In the morning, Jesus appeared to them, but they didn’t recognize Him. He tells them to throw their nets to the right side, and they take in a large catch of fish. It gets a bit chaotic, but they make it to shore. As they are with Jesus, they wanted to ask Jesus who He was, but they didn’t because they knew it was Him (John 21:12).
Even though they had already seen Him in His resurrected form, they still didn’t recognize Him by sight. They just figured it out. It was revealed to them which was received by faith.
We Are Often Slow to Recognize Jesus
How many of us have read the Scriptures when we realize that we receive something we needed in that moment? It may have been a scheduled reading, but it may have also been a random opening of the Bible. Somehow we read the very thing we needed.
Then we may also hear a sermon or something on the radio with the same truth that we need. Jesus is revealing Himself to us in these situations.
Have you ever been speaking to a friend and some insight comes out of you that you never put together before? You double down on that truth because you know it is what they need. You may even write it down because you know you will need it for yourself. Jesus poured Himself out through you for your friend. It makes sense because Jesus said where two or more are gathered in His name, He would be there (Matthew 18:20).
I think it is reassuring that the disciples had to learn to recognize Jesus. The ones that had the most intimate knowledge of Jesus in the flesh was having difficulty to know the resurrected Jesus. It shows me the way to see what He is doing and hear what He is saying (John 5:19; 12:50). It wasn’t a recognition by sight because if it was, they would have doubted who He was.
How Can We Recognize Jesus?
The way the disciples recognized Jesus was by what He was doing. Mary recognized Him when He called her name. Those going to Emmaus recognized Jesus when He broke the bread. John recognized Him when He gave them the great catch of fish.
The more we know about Jesus through reading the Scriptures; the more we will recognize Him when He shows up around us. We need that personal touch from Jesus to go with our studies. Jesus is real and wants to be with us. He calls us to come to Him to find rest (Matthew 11:28).
Let’s invite Him into our circumstances. Let’s look for Him in our daily lives. Jesus has risen. He is alive and available to us. This is the life we are called to live (2 Corinthians 5:7).
If you look at the verse that started this topic, you see we are not only called to view Jesus in this way, but also others. I think this is one of the most under-utilized tools in Christian discipleship. If you are interested in finding out how to do this, check out my free course, The Motivation of a Caregiver. The topic on How to Greatly Increase Your Love for Others addresses this way to view others.
Original photo by Mir Najeeb Mengal