What happens when you don't recognize someone that you should?
Are you embarrassed? Taken by surprise? Bewildered?
Does it happen to you? It has happened to me and I think all three of those adjectives have described how I felt at that moment.
I remember looking at wedding pictures of one of my daughter's friends. She was stunning and breath-taking beautiful. But I didn't recognize her. She did not look a thing like herself. This bride was beautiful in her "normal" self, but with her hair and makeup done professionally, I did not recognize her at all.
There are those moments too, when you meet up with a friend that you haven't seen in a long time, and they have either lost or gained weight, or their chemo treatments have re-shaped their looks and you are silenced by your lack of knowing them.
If you are my age, or if you know an incredible amount of people, you might see someone that you know, but for the life of you, you can't remember their name or where you know them from, and quite embarrassingly they remember you. (best tip I ever received in dealing with this type of situation is saying something like I forgot your last name! and then hopefully, that will help you remember their first name!! and please God, don't let it be somebody I really should know).
But don't worry; you are certainly not the only one who has not recognized someone. Fear not, there is actually an example or two from the bible of this.
In John chapter 21, (this is after Jesus has died and been resurrected) a number of the disciples had joined Peter to go fishing. They had fished all night and not caught a thing. Meanwhile the sun comes up, and on the beach is Jesus. And these guys did not recognize Jesus.
Here is the story from the Message Translation:
1-3 After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”
3-4 The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.
5 Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
They answered, “No.
6 He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”
They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”
So I read this and have questions.
1. Was Jesus' resurrected body completely different from the body He had while living?
I assume that it must be different. Otherwise, Mary Magdalene would have recognized Him by the tomb. And these disciples, the ones who walked with Him for 3 years, day in and day out, they didn't recognize Him.
2. Does that mean I often fail to recognize Jesus too?
Obviously yes, and you probably do as well.
Obviously, Jesus doesn't appear in bodily form here on earth presently, (although someday soon He will!), but I wondered how often do I miss seeing Him in people, in situations?
We have a "thing" in Young Life that we call, "Jesus sightings". These are the examples that we see Jesus in our daily lives, that normally we might miss or quite possibly never even thought that Jesus was in that situation.
Do I see Jesus in the homeless person I see on the street? That needs my help and more often than not, I ashamedly turn away from looking at them.
Do I see Jesus in those who might suffer from mental illness? Or do I view them as crazy and mixed up? Do I ever wonder what I would be like having that form of disease? Do I ever seek to understand them?
Do I see Jesus in the impoverished people of the world? Do I help clothe them or feed them as He has asked us to do?
Do I see Jesus in the members of my family? The ones who might need my help or support? Or am I bothered by them?
Do I see Jesus in the young mother, with screaming toddlers, seeming overwhelmed? Do I ask her if I can help? Or do I criticize her in my mind for not having children who behave?
Do these type of questions make you wonder how I could possibly link them to Jesus?
It is because this is what Jesus has told us we must do. In Matthew 25, Jesus told us:
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
So I don't want to miss Jesus.
I want to recognize Him in the faces of people I encounter everyday. I want to meet their needs if I can.
I believe that in doing so, I will see Jesus.
I will see how He has done similar things in my own life.
He wants me and you to be looking for Him throughout our days.
Ask Jesus to give you the vision to see Him each day, to recognize Him, to open our hearts to those we might normally not.
We might not see Jesus physically, but we can see Him everyday if we just keep our eyes and our hearts open to His leading.
Brandon Heath wrote a song just about this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY
These words from his song, completely say what I wanted to convey:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see
May we each have the eyes of Jesus to see who He wants us to see.