“He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.” (John 1:10 HCSB)
This month, we have been studying The Patriarchs by Beth Moore. I have read the story of Hagar many times and never noticed this passage: “Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the waterskin and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:19 HCSB). Hagar was distressed, being in the desert alone with her son, Ishmael. They were out of water, and her son was failing, so she let him rest under a bush, and removed herself from the scene, fearful that she would have to see him die. Can you imagine a mother’s angst? But then God opened her eyes…the water was there, but she didn’t see it before; God was there, but she was oblivious to His presence before.
Throughout the Scriptures, we find passages filled with the many ways that people fail to recognize The Living Water, Jesus. Many things can blur our vision and keep us from seeing Jesus: disobedience, fear, sorrow, hardships, emotional distress, and even ignorance. At times, God, knowing our hearts shields our eyes and minds till we are ready to submit completely to Him.
Sometimes our blindness comes from disobedience. The Scribes and Pharisees, for example, had access to the Scriptures, but when Jesus stood before them, they did not want to believe that He was the “promised one.” The other extreme is ignorance. At Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist declares: “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize.” (John 1:26 NLT). The public ministry of Jesus had not yet begun. He had not revealed Himself.
Between disobedience and ignorance there are many reasons we lose sight of who Jesus really is. Even while Jesus was still on this earth, those closest to Him had trouble recognizing Him and understanding what He was about. One stormy night on Lake Galilee, He came to His disciples walking on water, and they cried: “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). In Mark Chapter 8, the same disciples are concerned about their bread supply, so when Jesus speaks of bread, they fail to understand that Jesus is speaking about The Bread of Life. Jesus rebukes them saying: “Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember”? (Mark 8:18 HCSB).
After the Resurrection, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb: “She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.” (John 20:14 NLT). In her emotional distress and sorrow, she mistakes Him for the gardener. It is not until Jesus says: “Mary!” that she realizes who He is. In the same way the travelers on the road to Emmaus, walk with Jesus and talk to Him without realizing He is the very person they are speaking of. It is not till He breaks bread with them, that they realize who He truly is. And finally, we have Thomas, traumatized by the events of the preceding days, must have sensory proof in order to acknowledge Christ.
Today, we still fail to recognize Jesus, but there is a special blessing for those who do: “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV). And 1 Peter 1: 8-9 (NLT) says: “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
Dearest Heavenly Father,
Thank you for loving us and for sending us your son, Jesus. LORD, keep our eyes, minds and hearts open, so that we will always recognize Him.
In His precious Name,