They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 1At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
John 20: 13-16
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
Luke 24: 15-16
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
Matthew 25: 37-39, 44
Hmm. I am beginning to detect a pattern. The risen Jesus’ closest friends did not recognize him. Which means he looked like someone completely different. Perhaps he WAS someone completely different. I don’t mean that he was consumed by the Spirit of God – a transformed being. If you believe in his resurrection, I think that is a given. But for some reason he no longer looked like Yeshua Bar Yoseph.
Both groups in Matthew’s parable, the good sheep and the bad goats, did not recognize the Lord that they either served or ignored. Both those he praised and those he rebuked never recognized his presence in other people.
Somehow I don’t think that the episode of Mary meeting Jesus in the cemetery garden looked much like the picture above. Mary thought he was the gardener, right? That guy standing there in the picture looks a lot like every corny caricature of Jesus I’ve ever seen hanging in a baby’s nursery. A gardener would be dressed like a…gardener. You know, dirt under the fingernails (and toenails) wearing the 1st century equivalent of Dickies or blue jeans. No white robes – n0 rabbinical tassels -no beatific expression – no halo. A regular working guy.
The gospels seem to be saying that if you are looking for Jesus you need to look at the least likely people you can imagine. Who would that be for you? Certainly not professing Christians. Definitely not pastors or priests. Probably not in church at all. I mean, these folk are pretty likely candidates, right? You would EXPECT to find Jesus there. So where would you least expect to find him?
Christ the Lord IS risen today. Just look around.