Unrecognized

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The other day I went to a barbershop and received a shave and a hairscut. My wife watched as the barber worked, yet when I arose from the chair she barely recognized me. This is a woman who has known me for more than three years, yet she still had to do a double-take.

How could a woman who has known me for so long and loves me so dearly not recognize me immediately?

This past Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, or as it is commonly known, Easter. Something similar happened when Jesus arose from the dead.

Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
John 20:10-16

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

. . .

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Luke 24:13-35

Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
John 21:2-7

Jesus’ disciples, men and women alike, who had spent more than three years spending almost every moment near Jesus, essentially had to do a double-take. They did not recognize the risen Lord.

They had the wrong perspective.

My wife was still thinking of me with a beard. She had to change her thinking to recognize the new me.

These disciples were still thinking about how their Lord had died. They were still thinking in the old way.

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

While I am on the subject, Christ’s resurrection gives us a hope of similar un-recognizability.

First spiritually:

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Then completely:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21

When this world is overcome – figuratively, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically (which fully happens when Christ returns) – the world does not recognize the new, the pure, the holy.

The new is not something different. The new is the cleaned up, purified original. All of the clutter and mess is removed (the old is gone), and the power of Christ restores us and perfects us into His likeness.

Are you able to recognize Jesus Christ in this world? Does this world recognize you as another part of this world, or does this world not recognize you at all?

  1. Thank you Dan. It seems inconceivable that so many of those closest to Jesus did not recognise Him after the resurrection. I am reminded that Jesus looked through different eyes to those around Him. He saw people as they were and noticed stuff His disciples couldn’t see. As followers of Jesus we need to see through His eyes. We need to see those around us from His perspective. We need to see the person behind the appearance. We need to see the heart.

    • One of the first verses I read as a new believer (technically, just before I truly believed) was 1 Samuel 16:7, and it has helped guide my Christian walk. (Where God basically says “man looks at the outside, but I look at the heart”)

      Thanks for your thoughts!

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