Recognition

Do I Know You? Who Are You Again?

Ed, my old neighbor, did not recognize me the first time he saw me on the street in Melville on our recent visit. He claimed that, now, I have turned into a 100% old geezer instead of a 50% one. Our old neighbor was gracious towards us. Ed was cautious, at first, not sure, why we were visiting Melville. He seemed to be afraid that we might be coming back to town to stay. When that fear turned out to empty, he was genuinely glad to see us.

It is not exactly fun to hear the questions: “Do I know you? Who are you again? Were you talking to me?” It is humbling not to be recognized by the people you speak to first. Sometimes, there may be a change in you or them, so that, there is no honest realization of the other person’s identity. There could also be the suspicion that the other person does not want to recognize you on purpose. A person can be seen with delight or ignored, as just another person you don’t know, and do not need to know.  

Being recognized, as a family member or friend may not turn out for the best. In the Bible, Cain killed his brother Able. The brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Being famous may harden opposition and resentment towards the celebrated person. The enemies of Jesus felt too many people knew his name, knew of his powerful preaching and teaching as a rabbi, and of his miracles and healings. The fame of Jesus was part of his downfall. His raising of Lazarus from the dead had the attention of all the people of Jerusalem. Because of his growing popularity, his enemies acted to execute him on Friday. He threatened them as the religious authorities over the people.

Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb on Friday. His disciples and supporters could not recognize God’s power at work in these events. They were grieving Jesus’ death, disappointed that his death surely meant he could not be the Messiah, as they had hoped.

On the third day after Christ’s death, on the first day of the week, two men, supporters of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. A man also walking along the road joined them on their journey, and asked them what they were discussing so earnestly. The two men did not realize the stranger walking with them was Jesus. The men shared their confusion about the tomb being found empty early that morning. They had been close to Jesus but could not make sense of all the things that had happened to him. The stranger showed them from Scripture that Jesus, the Christ, needed to suffer, die and rise again. They began to see God’s purpose and glory concerning Jesus, instead of, being stuck in their grief and confusion.

Later, as the stranger was about to eat with them, they realized that it was Jesus. How often do we go along in life grieving over events we cannot understand or change? Jesus will open the scriptures to us, to give us comfort and peace, if we allow him to do so.

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Raymond Maher
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