Have you experienced a time when you thought to yourself, "I wish Jesus was here with me." I remember a friend, who was having radiation treatment for cancer, saying to me, "Before I go into the treatment room, I stand at the door and say, 'Okay Jesus, in we go together.'" She was declaring that Jesus was going with her into that room, acknowledging that she was not going alone. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that "I am not alone."
That story reminds me of a song, "He walks with me" from Merle Haggard. The lyrics are simple but beautiful ...
I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear The son of God discloses
And he walks with me and he talks with me And he tells me I am his own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet The birds hush their singing And the melody that he gave to me Within my heart is ringing
You know that feeling you have after spending time with someone who loves you. You feel heard, encouraged, safe and secure. Well that is how we can feel after spending time with Jesus.
But first we have to recognise that He is with us and acknowledge Him.
Let's take a look at a couple of stories where Jesus wasn't immediately recognised.
Firstly, at the empty tomb after Jesus' resurrection ...
But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
"They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognise him.
Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him."
Jesus said, "Mary."
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" meaning "Teacher!" John 20:11-16 The Message
In regards to Mary not recognising Jesus, let's look at the way other translations say verse 14,
The Passion Translation - Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn't realise that it was him!
The New King James Version - Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
Recognise, realise and know
According to the NIV Study Bible, we don't know why Mary didn't recognise Jesus, "He may have looked different or he may intentionally have prevented recognition." NIV Study Bible, Luke 20:14 Commentary, page 1633.
I wonder how many times things have happened in our lives and Jesus has been there and we haven't recognised, realised or known.
Or why we sometimes don't recognise Jesus, or realise what He is doing in our lives? Perhaps this is the moment to ask Him.
An aside, or maybe one of the main points ... notice that it is when Jesus calls Mary by her name that she recognises him. In the TV series about Jesus, The Chosen (available at the App Store or Google Play), there is a beautiful scene in Episode 1, when Jesus calls Mary by her name and she is redeemed.
Let's have a look at another interaction on that same day, when Jesus was not recognised. He is walking with two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking about all these things that had occurred. And while they were conversing and discussing this together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognise Him. Luke 24:13-16 AMPC
In this story it is clear that the disciples did not recognise Jesus because of divine intervention. The Passion Translation says it this way ...
They were unaware that it was Jesus walking alongside them, for God prevented them from recognising him. Luke 24:16 TPT
In fact, the disciples didn't recognise Jesus until that evening at supper...
Joining them at the table for supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it, then gave it to them. All at once their eyes were opened and they realised it was Jesus! Then suddenly, in a flash, Jesus vanished before from their eyes! Luke 24:30-31 TPT
Oh my, there certainly was a lot of mysterious things going on at the time, and I don't pretend to understand any of them. But it is good to ask God what He wants to show us through these stories.
An interesting aside about the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were discussing the current events of the day ...
And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"
Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened in there in these days?
And He said to them, "What things?"
So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.......
....Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ have suffered these things to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Luke 24:17-27 NKJV
In our world today, there are certainly many interesting current events to discuss. But notice what happens in this conversation on the road to Emmaus, who brings the wisdom and explains what is going on? Jesus.
John Maxwell comments on this conversation,
"As two grieving men conversed about Jesus' crucifixion, they struggled to understand what it all meant. Jesus saw their confusion and could tell they needed someone to guide them. So He joined them and began to explain His resurrection in light of Scripture (Luke 24:27,45). By the end of their time together, it all made sense." John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Page 1299.
Listen to how The Passion Translation explains the disciples' response when they realised they had been walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus,
Stunned, they looked at each other and said, "Why didn't we recognise it was him? Didn't our hearts burn with the flames of holy passion while we walked beside him? He unveiled for us such profound revelation from the Scriptures!" Luke 24:32 TPT
So what profound revelation does God want to give us today through these stories from Scriptures?
Possibly some of these things, and probably a whole lot more!
To finish today, let's just revisit the words of that song again, knowing that Jesus is with us and we are not alone.
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