recognizing jesus

We don’t know a whole lot about Mary Magdalene. In fact, before we get to the last chapter of Jesus’ story, there is only one clear reference to Mary Magdalene in the gospels. Almost in passing, Luke tells us that once when Jesus was travelling around preaching with his disciples, there was a group of women travelling with him. And among these women was Mary Magdalene, says the text, from whom seven demons had gone out.

We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene. At the same time it’s interesting that when we get to the last chapter of Jesus’ life, Mary Magdalene is suddenly everywhere.

Three of the gospels indicate that Mary was present at Jesus’ crucifixion.

Two of the gospels point out that Mary Magdalene was present when Joseph of Aramathea placed Jesus’ body in the tomb.

All four of the gospels have her among those who discovered the empty tomb.

Three of them have Mary Magdalene as the first witness of the resurrection. Continue reading

the problem of recognition…

It is a peculiar thing that Jesus’ followers don’t recognize him after his resurrection. In the narrative of John’s gospel, think of Mary Magdalene, who comes first to the empty tomb – she turns around and there is Jesus. But she doesn’t recognize him. She mistakes him for the gardener: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him.” Also in John’s gospel, you may remember that the risen Jesus appears to his disciples some days later. It is just after daybreak on the shore of the sea of Tiberius when Jesus appears, but the disciples don’t recognize him.

We could also turn to Luke’s gospel, to the familiar story of two disciples on the way to Emmaus. Jesus comes and walks with them along the road, but they don’t recognize him. He speaks with them about the scriptures and everything that has happened, but they don’t recognize Jesus.

What a peculiar thing that Jesus’ disciples and followers don’t recognize him. Perhaps the problem is that they are so convinced Jesus is dead (and why wouldn’t they be convinced of that) – they are so convinced Jesus is dead that their minds can’t accommodate his presence.

Jesus is dead. This just can’t be Jesus. Continue reading