Let’s go back….over 2017 years. Jesus is fresh out (of the tomb), and nobody knows a thing. Mary (His mom) & Mary Magdalene get to the tomb, having a chit chat about how this has easily been the worst weekend ever (it’s up there with the day that Lazarus died) and wondering who is going to roll the stone away for them to pay their respects. Ohhhh but they had no idea that the stone wouldn’t be a problem at all, and that they had probably walked right past the living Man they were coming to mourn.
The gospels all contain slightly different aspects of the story, yet, the central point is the same: Jesus was in the presence of those who knew Him best, those who had spent years with them and watched Him do amazing things…and they didn’t recognize Him. John says that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, didn’t see Him there, and panicked. She left and found Peter & John, showed them the empty tomb, and stayed after they left. Then, Jesus starts asking her questions, and she thought it was the gardener, until He called her out. Then, He made her a messenger, and had her gather the disciples so He could meet with them before His ascension.
Luke, on the other hand, brings us in on a journey with 2 of the disciples, on their way to meet Jesus and watch His ascension (this is about to get awkward). Jesus walks up with the disciples (appearing as..some stranger), and essentially asks them “why are y’all so sad?” (because in my head, Jesus says ‘y’all’ lol) The disciples turn to Jesus in disguise & say “have you been under a rock for the past 3 days?”, and explain Jesus’ story…to Jesus. Jesus in disguise responds with “isn’t that the way that it was supposed to happen?”, and basically breaks down scripture that proves who Jesus is, and why the struggle was necessary. Then, Jesus in disguise tries to leave, and the disciples convince Him to stay with them. So, He goes with them to eat, takes the bread, blessed it, and broke it. In that moment, it hit them: they had been walking with Jesus the entire time….and in the very moment that it hit them, He was gone.
When I first read these stories, I was baffled. I know the Bible says that their eyes were shielded, but…how on earth could these people be with Jesus for so long, and not…feel anything or have a hunch that He was the one they were talking to? How on earth do you miss…JESUS?! Then, I realized that we do the same thing. So many of us go to church, sing in the choir (and praise team, and special Sunday ensemble), and still can’t tell when God has increased the weight of His presence around us? How many people can’t see God in the little things? How many people can’t see Christ in chaos? The disciples had an excuse: their eyes were restrained, likely because Jesus wanted the ‘big reveal’ to be at His ascension. We, however, came loooonngg after His ascension. So…how do we miss Jesus so often?
I think we miss Jesus because it’s easy to get caught up in doing God’s work…and lose track of God. It’s incredibly possible to get caught up in doing our work of the church, and doing our work for God…and forget about God in the process. It is possible to do the right thing & lose track of the right heart or purpose. It is possible to be a Christian, go through the rituals, and miss Jesus when He shows up in your life. I know that Jesus is everywhere, but if you’re not aware of His presence, you’ll lose a lot (joy, peace, focus, faith…just a few examples). It’s one thing to walk with Jesus, and another to realize who you’re walking with. If you’re not aware that you’re walking with Jesus, you’ll spend all of your time and conversation moping about the things that died on Friday, without realizing that Sunday morning has brought life and resurrection. When you’re unaware that you’re walking with Jesus, you spend more time magnifying the storm than you magnify God. If you’re unaware that you’re walking with Jesus, you’ll miss your hope. You’ll miss your joy. You’ll miss your way out. You’ll miss your victory. If you’re unaware that you’re walking with Jesus, you’ll miss…abundant life.
So….how do we recover? Can we recover? Can we recover from…”missing Jesus”? Of course! Through Christ, there is always a a chance to recover. We stop ‘missing Jesus’ by paying attention to (and learning) His ways. The disciples realized that they were talking to Jesus when He took the bread, blessed it, & broke it. He followed that same pattern at the last supper. He followed that same pattern when He fed the 5000. If anybody knows how to take bread, bless it, & break it, it’s Jesus! Mary realized it when He called her name at the tomb. They didn’t recognize His voice. They didn’t recognize His frame. They picked up on His ways. However, if they hadn’t been paying attention for the previous 3-33 years, they would’ve missed Him again. If they hadn’t learned His ways, they wouldn’t have known in that moment that He was indeed alive. That’s the key to always being aware of when He’s in a room: you’ve got to learn His heart, which helps you learn His ways. Have you ever noticed that you run low, but you never run out? One of His ways. Peace in a storm? That’s one of His ways (classic). Joy when you should be sad? One of His ways. Vision and blessings beyond your comprehension? One of His ways. You see, God is creative. He can achieve a goal a million (and more) different ways. Yet, His heart will never change. His heart will always do something to ensure that this works for your good. His heart will always ensure that His word doesn’t come back to Him void. Learn His heart, and you’ll pick up on His ways; pick up on His ways, and you won’t miss Him, because you’ll realize that He’s right there.
Background music: Show Me Your Face - Fred Hammond
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
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