SERMON TITLE: “Recognizing Jesus”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 24:13-35
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: May 1, 2022, at First UMC
One of my frequent experiences is that I’ll start watching a movie or TV program and I’ll see an actor or actress who seems familiar. Even if their costume, hair color, whiskers, or time in history is quite different from anything I’ve seen with them before—the sound of their voice, a certain mannerism, or the shape of their nose seems like I should know them. If I can’t figure it out right away, it bugs me until I do. Maybe you’ve had that same kind of experience. It seems that we human beings are hardwired to try to recognize other people.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we always succeed. Those of us who have ever gone to a class reunion know that sometimes even little changes can cause us not to recognize people. Weight gain or loss, balding, graying hair, dentures, and glasses are probably the most common changes that throw us off track. A few people might even have gotten a facelift. All those changes can make it difficult to recognize old friends.
With that in mind, now imagine what it would be like to see someone who had been raised from the dead. On Easter morning, just outside Jesus’ tomb, Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener. And, on Easter evening, two disciples on the Road to Emmaus had no idea that they were talking and walking for miles with the risen Jesus himself. Only after they heard him explain the scriptures, and only after Jesus broke the bread, did they finally realize who he was.
If identifying Jesus was that hard back then, just a few days after his crucifixion, imagine how difficult it is for us today. With all that has changed in language and culture over 2000 years, how can we even be sure we’re worshiping the right one? How do we go about recognizing Jesus?