Today’s Reading: John 20:15-16 (NIV)
15 “Woman,” he said, “Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, [Mary] said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Have you ever been approached by someone who thought you was someone else? Recently, I’ve been the example of a mistaken identity on a number of occasions, most recently at a Perspectives Bible Study class. A woman who was attending the program at Faith Church from Illinois seemed to recognize me from clear across the sanctuary. When she realized I was not the person she thought I was, she said that I definitely have a twin sister living on the other side of the river. Ironically, I guess it could be true! Since I was adopted at birth, I could have a sister out there somewhere. I would love to meet her one day, along with my biological parents. If nothing else, my heavenly family reunion will certainly be a wonderful surprise party for me!
Class reunions and church homecomings are places where we are surprised to see the people we have not seen in literally years. Last summer, Jeff and I made a trip to Texas and arranged to have dinner with several church members from a former student pastorate. When we were in seminary, Jeff and I were very young, ages 20 and 22 respectively. The biggest difference in Jeff’s appearance is his lack of hair. The folks at College Mound were surprised to see their totally bald pastor! I looked nothing like I did before, when I was thirty years younger. Of course, the folks we met with had changed considerably too. It is funny how the lines of time may change our physical appearance, but the things that make us who we are, our character and conviction, remain steadfast. Even though some of my College Mound friends did not look the way I remembered them, I could hear that sweet familiarity in their voice, and I knew them instinctively by their love for each other. Christians can be easily identified by their love.
Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, and if I had been standing there, I probably would not have known Him either. The last time she saw the Lord, He was a bleeding, dying man hanging upon the cross. His flesh had been ripped to shreds. His face was swollen and bruised from the beating He took. His eyes were blood shot and almost swollen shut. Mary saw Jesus die. It is no wonder that she would not have immediately recognized the risen Christ. His physical body had been restored to wholeness. It must have been His voice that she recognized first, when He called out her name. Even when our physical vision fails, our ability to hear and recognize the voice of our Savior remains.
The behaviors that alienate human beings today from a holy and perfect God can keep us from clearly hearing His voice and cause us to misunderstand His message of Truth. Today, I am praying for the ability to hear above the roar of our cultural world view. I want to know Jesus for who He really is, for it is only in Him that I can live forever free. I do not want to experience a sad case of mistaken identity when Christ calls out my name. Father, forgive me for the sins I’ve committed against you and others. I plead the blood of your son, Jesus Christ to cover me, to cleanse and make me whole. Only He can help me hear your still, small voice. I ask this, in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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