The theme of recognition just won’t go away! It started sometime around Palm Sunday, with the whole issue of whether any of the people around Jesus as he entered into Jerusalem that day really recognised him for who he was.
Even Jesus’ mother, who’d had revelations from heaven both before he was born (Angel Gabriel appearing in person to tell her) and later, for instance, the two extraordinary prophetic interventions at the Temple when Jesus was eight days old, by Simeon and Anna . On seeing the infant Jesus, Simeon, called into the Temple that day by the Holy Spirit, called out to God, “My eyes have seen your salvation!.. a light for revelation to the Gentiles...”, affirming he was now ready to die. Despite hearing this, Mary reacted just like the mother of any ordinary child when Jesus was “lost” for a whole day. Travelling away from the city after celebrating Passover they turned back in alarm when they realised they didn’t have Jesus, aged 12, with them. There was no sign that she was bearing in mind his unique identity when they found him in the Temple speaking with great wisdom to the learned teachers. She says bluntly, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” (Luke 2:48 NRSV)
His calm reply, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” is commented on in Luke’s Gospel ‘But they did not understand what he said to them.’ Not much recognition at that moment, certainly.
Then, quite shockingly, the account in Mark 3:21 of how, when Jesus was surrounded by pressing crowds and couldn’t get a chance to eat – “When his family heard it, they went to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ “ It’s worth noting that this followed some wonderful healings which Jesus had just done. Where was the recognition of what actually was going on ?
It should make us feel much more compassionate to one another when we fail to recognise Jesus in our lives – fail to see his hand guiding us, his Spirit leading us, and the destiny which he is calling us into. We either forget or get distracted by everything else.
The truth is, Jesus is right in front of us, present and active in our lives. God open our eyes to recognise Him.