Resurrection: It Takes a Second Look
“Seeing things as they actually are usually takes time. How else are we to explain the fact that no one—no one!—noticed the resurrected Jesus at first sight? Seeing the resurrection requires a second look, another glance. It takes a while for our eyes to adjust to the light of the resurrection, and then all of life looks radically different…Seeing God’s “new thing” is about seeing an old thing in a new way through a new lens. Such is the miracle of Gospel sight—to see what has always been there in such a radically new way that it becomes a new thing. This is always a work of grace, and we can only handle so much of it at once.”
-Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke in Geography of Grace, Doing Theology from Below from Daily Quote, InwardOutward/ Church of the Saviour, InwardOutward.org, April, 30, 2019.
When friends ask what life must be like in the resurrection, I remind them that our only stories are those of the resurrected Jesus. The disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection did not recognize him. Mary Magdalene did not recognize him. The disciples meeting Jesus on the beach were not sure who that was. Jesus came and went through closed doors. The resurrected Jesus gave fishing tips, cooked meals and ate dinner with his friends.
The Easter season is the perfect time to read and mediate on the appearances of the resurrected Jesus on Easter Day and the next forty days (Acts 1:3-8).
We may be more familiar to the four Easter Day appearances of Jesus (Mary Magdalene in John, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in Matthew, two disciples on road to Emmaus in Luke, upper room to disciples first time when Thomas absent in John). There are at least 12 appearances of the resurrected Jesus. This Easter Season is an excellent time now to practice Ignatian meditative practices putting ourselves into the scenes not as familiar to us.
Jesus appeared to the disciples eight days after the resurrection (John 20:24-29) with Thomas present in the upper room. He appeared to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee where he asked Peter to feed his sheep (John 21). Jesus appeared on a hillside in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20) perhaps to over 500 people as referenced by Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6). Jesus was later seen by his brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7). Of course, Jesus’ final appearance was the Great Commission after the disciples returned to Jerusalem and were led out to Bethany at the Mount of Olives. (Luke 24:50-52, Acts 1:9-11). Then we know that Paul also encountered Jesus a few years later on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:8).1
The fact that people have difficulty recognizing Jesus tells us as least two things. The resurrection was so overwhelming that it was almost impossible to believe at first. Second, Jesus looked different in the resurrection.
May we in turn learn from this how it may be for those we love as well as ourselves in the resurrection.
1Msgr. Charles Pope, Blog, April 9, 2012, blog.adw.org
Purchase a copy of A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter from me, email@example.com, from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, or from Amazon.