If Jesus showed up at your door, or walked down your street, would you recognize Him? Putting this another way, would you recognize a situation in which the Spirit of Jesus was present?
As we look through the Scriptures, we see that the people of God had a “spotty” record when it came to positively answering these questions! In the book of 1 Samuel, God calls Samuel, while it is understandable that the young boy did not recognize the voice of God, the Priest Eli’s failure is disappointing. Three times, God called and it was only on the third time that Eli clued in to Who it was! (1 Sam 3:8).
In the New Testament, the people’s response was similar. One night, the disciples were on the water. Jesus was not with them. Later, Jesus walked out on the water to meet them. While He was still far away, the disciples saw what they thought was a ghost. They were frightened – until He reassured them. “Take courage, do not be afraid, it is I” (Matt. 14:27).
After the resurrection, Jesus followers did not IMMEDIATELY recognize Him. At the tomb, on the day of the Resurrection, Mary was devastated when she encountered the empty tomb. Overcome with grief she thought that meant theft -not miracle! Even when Jesus appeared to her and called her name, she failed to recognize Him.
At another time, Jesus was suddenly present with His disciples. They were terrified! Showing them His wounds wasn’t enough! When Jesus took, and ate some broiled fish, then they believed! (Luke 24:36-42). On the road to Emmaus, Jesus suddenly was present with two followers who did not identify Him. Despite Jesus’ lengthy explanation of the whole Story, their “aha moment” came later, as Jesus broke the bread at the supper table.
I wonder what it was that made it so difficult for people to recognize God? It also makes me think about the things that might keep us from recognising Him. Eli may have stopped listening for God and allowed the cares of life to crowd him such as we are bombarded with information and noise streaming in from all directions and there is little silence to be found let alone a space for us to hear the Lord. Fear often gripped the disciples – choking out the voice of God. Mary’s despair and sadness seemed to cloud her ability to see Him. What clouds us from being able recognising the “voice” of God?
While it is true that we have we have displayed consistently slow tendency to believe, Jesus consistent love and patience, continues to pursue us. He never lets us go. As He empowered His people then, to practice what they learned, He does the same for us. His desire is that we grow faith -“to see what is unseen.” If we look, we see God in the people He brings to us as the perfect moment, the calm that overrules a chaotic situation, the people with the least consistently giving the most.
Are you able to see Jesus in your life? How do you notice what He is doing in your midst or in the world? How big is your faith? Spending time with Him enables you to discern His voice and become more familiar with His ways. Carrying out His work, enables you to gain confidence in God and increase your faith.
In the Love of Jesus,