Recognizing Jesus; January 28, 2020

John 20:14, 16 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Here we have a clear indication of Mary Magdalene’s emotional state. She’s just seen and talked with two angels, but she’s not even interested! Then, seeing Jesus Himself, she doesn’t recognize Him for all the tears in her eyes. Even when He speaks to her, at first she doesn’t recognize Him. It is only when He speaks her name that it breaks through to her who He is. If we think about it, we should all be able to identify with Mary. We get all caught up and involved with our circumstances and emotions to the point we can’t see past the end of our nose, and God has to do something extraordinary to get us to recognize Him. God speaks to us all the time, but I think the majority of the time we fail to recognize Him because He isn’t appearing in a way we expect. Another risk is that if we have strong preconceptions of how God would speak to us, the devil does a counterfeit to deceive us. As Paul said, he can appear as an angel of light! (2 Corinthians 11:14) We need to have our hearts tuned to Jesus to enable us to see Him in our everyday situations, hearing Him accurately and walking in fellowship with Him. The best way to move toward that is to get into a regular habit of reading the Bible with the expectation of hearing from God. Too many people don’t read the Bible at all, or read it only out of a sense of obligation, even though they claim to believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. What a waste! The Bible is given to us, among other reasons, to give us a reliable standard for what God sounds like. He speaks in many ways, but He is not going to contradict what He has already said. When we are thoroughly familiar with the Bible, it is easy to recognize God when He speaks through another person or through things around us, not to mention speaking directly to our heart. The key, however, is not to be so consumed with our circumstances that we can’t recognize Him, the way Mary was.

I’ve been there done that, as the saying goes. I couldn’t begin to count the number of boxes I’ve tried to put God in, as to when and where and how He was going to speak to me. You would think I would have learned better by now! Thankfully, I think I have grown in my listening ability, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. Objectively speaking, my very highest priority is fellowship with my Lord, but in practical terms I am still all too likely to be distracted by something else. I have had Him speak to me in all sorts of unexpected ways, and it’s always refreshing when that happens, but at the same time it makes me realize that I’m almost certainly not recognizing Him much more of the time! I need to walk in full humility, getting rid of all the “boxes” of my preconditions and allowing Him to speak to and use me whenever, wherever, and however He pleases, for His glory.

Father, thank You that You do speak to me and allow me to walk in fellowship with You. Help me get past all the distractions and recognize You in all of life, so that my obedience may be immediate and total, building up the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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