Have you ever been in a situation where you were meeting someone, for the first time and only had a vague description of what they looked like? If you were lucky, maybe they let you know what they were wearing. As Christians, if we are going to follow Christ throughout our lives,, then it would be important to answer the questions, how do we recognize the risen Christ? Looking at the New Testament, that was an important question for the early church. In several passages we read about encounters and metaphors that help us identify how Christ is present in our lives.
Recognition of Christ is sometimes slow in coming. Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They travel for miles talking with Christ without recognizing their friend. Yet, it was only when they broke bread together that they recall, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?” (Luke 24:32). Consider Mary Magdalene, where she is the first to discover the empty tomb and the risen Lord, she does not recognize him, assuming that he is a gardener who has moved the body. It isn’t until he says her name that she truly sees who he is.
Have you ever been touched by the compassion of another? Perhaps the risen Christ was extending you compassion through that person. Have you ever had a profound conversation with someone about suffering, death, and meaning, a conversation that awakened intensity in your thoughts and a general feeling that put your whole life in a richer, deeper, wiser perspective? Perhaps the risen Christ was moving through that person toward you. Have you ever found a community that revealed an abundance of life (John 10:10), a way of living overflowing with grace and delight? Perhaps the risen Christ was moving through them toward you.
How do you recognize the risen Christ? We listen to what is awakened in our hearts through deep conversations. We attend to the voices of compassion we grow to trust. We participate in a community of abundant life. Then we know that Christ is risen indeed! Through this Lenten time, I will be preaching a series called: Encountering Jesus. We will look at several encounters that Jesus had and how they can lift our hearts, empower compassion, and reveal abundant community. Please join us as we Encounter Jesus together!
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)