Weekly Devotion – John 20:14
Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022
By Mike Caton
John 20:14, “At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”
There are two strangers sitting in the tomb that is supposed to hold Jesus’ body, but there is no Jesus. And these strangers ask Mary why she is crying. That ought to be pretty obvious. Then Mary turns around, maybe she is heading out of the tomb, and here is another stranger standing there. It is almost funny for a tomb to have no dead people in it and four live ones.
Maybe we wonder how Mary didn’t recognize Jesus. Remember, the last time she saw him he was a mess, to put it mildly. Jesus had been beaten, nearly to the point of death by the Roman soldiers. Often men who received these floggings died as a result. But the meat would have been shredded on Jesus’ body, probably both his back and his belly side. Often these floggings would expose bone or even internal organs. On top of that Jesus had been crucified, another cruel form of punishment, designed to break a body down. And Jesus didn’t look like that now. I wonder what Jesus did look like. He still looked like himself, I suppose as others recognized him. But he also had the nail holes in his hands and the spear hole in his side, as he invited Thomas to explore them. To be sure Joseph and Nicodemus had washed the body before they buried it, but what about the other wounds? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But why didn’t Mary recognize him?
Maybe a better question is do we recognize Jesus when we see him? Maybe it is Jesus preaching that sermon that you don’t want to hear. Or the one you think you don’t need to hear. Maybe Jesus is the child who is begging for your attention. Maybe Jesus is the one checking out your groceries, the single mom who needs a kind word. Maybe Jesus is your weird and annoying coworker who needs to know someone loves him. Or maybe Jesus is your weird and annoying coworker who is trying to love you. Remember the parable of the sheep and the goats? When did we see you cold or hungry or naked . . . And the reply is what you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me.
Father, open my eyes. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works full time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email firstname.lastname@example.org.