“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.” ~ Luke 24:15-16
There are so many wonders in the world that the eye longs to see. Our eyes are drawn to the rare, the spectacular, the beautiful, the pristine, the picturesque. If it is worth seeing, we want to see it, even if it costs us dearly or requires us to travel great distances. We want to see the wonders of the world. This deep desire to marvel is a great gift, for it is essential to our capacity for surprise, our sense of wonder, and our quest for a beauty worthy of our captivation and a love worthy of our worship. However, one of the ways in which this gift can be abused is that in our obsession with site-seeing, we can lose our capacity for self-seeing. In our pursuit of the things we want to see around and before us, we can become oblivious to what we need to see about and within ourselves.
This partly explains why Jesus hides himself. In fact, our captivation with the spectacular causes us to focus so much on the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after he rose from the dead that we completely miss how much he hid himself from them after he rose from the dead. There is the account of Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Christ face to face, but we miss the fact that before revealing himself to her, he made himself appear as the gardener. There is the account of Peter and company seeing Jesus on the beach while they were in a boat fishing, but we miss the fact that he did not make himself recognizable until he told them where to throw the net in order to catch the fish. Then there is the account of the two young men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, who were “kept from recognizing him” until after he had gone from them. Jesus hides himself before he reveals himself.
Why does he do that, you ask? Well, there is no doubt that seeing the risen Christ would be spectacular and overwhelming, that it would be all we would talk about for days on end, even allowing it to become the defining centerpiece of our relationship with him and allowing it to overshadow any other work he intends to do in our lives apart from showing us the spectacular. And one of the works of grace that can be hindered by the pursuit or appearance of the spectacular is the work of seeing ourselves from Jesus’ perspective. In any way that we do not see in ourselves what he sees, we do not see ourselves as we truly are. And because we cannot submit to Christ for him to change us until we ourselves see what it is in us that is worth changing, Christ is ready to help us see ourselves. He does this by keeping us from seeing other things we are eager to see, including seeing him in his glory. When we are not able to see him clearly, it is not because he has left us in the dark, but rather because he has taken the light off himself and shed it on us to show us what he has come to change. Do you see?
By: Sean Kampondeni