Friday, April 10, 2015

Recognizing Jesus

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus Risen
- Artist unknown
From Treasures of the Bible

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus Risen - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 20:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Now when she had said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know it was Jesus." John 20:14

I have always been puzzled by Mary's failure to recognize Jesus. Didn't she know Him well? Hadn't she observed Him at close quarters as one of the women who served His itinerant ministry? Why this failure to recognize him?

The IVP New Testament Commentary says of her uncomprehending reaction:

"Such can be the blinding effect of profound emotions. In this case, her inability to recognize him also seems to be due to the character of Jesus' resurrection body, since such failure is typical of encounters with him (cf. Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:12; Luke 24:16, 37; John 21:4)" - IVP Commentary of the New Testament accessed through "Study This" on

This is by no means the only time Jesus wasn't recognized, though. A failure to recognize who He really was in His person and work was a common reaction to Him while He was on earth.
  • Isaiah predicted this blindness - Isaiah 53:3.
  • Though the disciples were guilty of this same reaction for much of the time Jesus was with them (John 14:9), they eventually got it. Look at what John says in His gospel, written some 50 years after Jesus' death and resurrection: "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him" - John 1:10.
  • The Jewish leaders of Jesus' time who looked on Him as their rival clung tenacious to their unawareness - John 9:1-34.
  • Jesus predicted that bad things would happen to His followers because people in authority didn't and wouldn't recognize Him and His Father - John 16:1-4.

The above could and does impact Christians in the world today. So do two other things about recognizing Jesus:
  • People can see that we have seen and know Him by the bent of our lives. In his letter to early Christians, John says:
"Whoever abides in Him does not sin.* Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him" - 1 John 3:6 (emphasis added).
"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him" - 1 John 3:6 NIV.
  • Jesus may come to us even now in many ways through the needs of our fellowmen (Matthew 25:34-40). Do we recognize Him here?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please open my eyes to see You in the needy people all around me. Soften my heart to respond as surely as I would if it were You in person. Amen.


* "…does not sin…"  or "no one who lives in him keeps on sinning…" does not mean that the person who is in Christ never sins. The IVP Commentary is helpful here: "What is meant, then, by the statement no one who lives in him keeps on sinning is quite simple: sin is not the identifying characteristic of those who live in him." (Emphasis added.)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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