Easter – Jesus Unrecognized

Another aspect of the Easter story that has always captivated me is: why don’t any of Jesus’ followers recognize him?

Mary Magdalene in the garden just outside the tomb looks right at Jesus but thinks he’s the gardener. The disciple who are locked in a room scared out of their wits don’t recognize Jesus until he blesses them and shows them his hands and his side. The two disciples on their way to Emmaus didn’t recognize him. Time and again, the people who were closest to Jesus did not recognize him after the resurrection.

I love this part of the story because it counters so many triumphalist expressions of the faith. ‘Jesus is my friend,’ is difficult to justify when Mary, Peter, John, James, and all the others DID NOT RECOGNIZE the risen Jesus. The Unrecognized Christ gives me hope because while I too may not recognize the presence of Christ before me or within me, I can still hear (just like the disciples) those amazing words: Peace be with you!

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