Crossroads: Recognizing Jesus

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Luke 24: 13-35

Your Story

Talk about a time when you saw Jesus in someone surprising.

My Story and the Bible Story

Jesus tends to break into our lives in unexpected ways. Maybe for you, it’s the bully of the school doing something nice for someone else. Maybe it’s the popular kid sitting with an outcast at lunch. However it is, Jesus usually works through surprising people. We find him when we don’t expect to. Through the years, I have found Jesus in very unexpected people, people the world overlooks. When you hear about a homeless person finding someone’s life savings and giving it back to them, you see Jesus. When you hear about people running into burning buildings to save others, you see Jesus.

As a teenager, I was a bit afraid of homeless people. They seemed so different from me, and I was afraid. But one day my youth group went to serve at a soup kitchen. I went because I wanted to help, but I didn’t want to get too close. But eventually I had to go out into the dining room to refill drinks. And as I came to one man and refilled his tea, he was so thankful that he gave me a Christmas card, which was what he sold to make a living. He gave me what he had in order to show me how thankful he was. And suddenly, I was no longer afraid. Instead of me being Jesus to the people I was helping, this man was Jesus to me.

Sometimes we see Jesus in a homeless person, in a bully, in an outcast, in a prisoner, and even in someone who used to kill Christians (Paul). Church isn’t the only place that we can find Jesus. We can see Jesus in the actions of people, and sometimes who Jesus uses surprises us.

Read Luke 24: 13-35. From the NIV: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 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. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

These two followers of Jesus didn’t recognize him. They had seen him only a few days before, and yet, they didn’t recognize him. The story tells us that they were kept from recognizing him, but it also could have been because they weren’t expecting to see him there. Sometimes we miss Jesus because we don’t expect to see him. Jesus is all around us, working in and through the people we meet. But we have to be paying attention to see him. We sometimes don’t recognize Jesus because we weren’t looking for him. These followers were in shock. Jesus had been killed and something strange was happening. The women had told them that they couldn’t find Jesus’ body. They didn’t know what was going on. And while they tried to figure that out, a man came up to them on the road and asked what they were talking about. Surely this man had to know what had happened! Where has he been that he didn’t know what was going on? And so they told him all about it, not expecting this man to get angry with them that they didn’t understand what was going on. Finally, when Jesus broke the bread, they recognized him and suddenly understood everything Jesus had said to them.

When we look for Jesus, when we expect Jesus to show up and work in our lives and the lives of others, we find him. When someone unexpected is nice to us when we are having a bad day, when someone surprises us by doing something to help someone else, that’s Jesus. If we look for him, we will find him. This week, be on the lookout for Jesus. Try to see his face in the people you meet. If you expect to see him in others, you will. But if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss what’s going on, just like those two followers almost missed who they were talking to.

Discussion

• What are some ways that you have seen Jesus in others?
• What are some ways we can recognize Jesus? [If someone does something to help someone else, if someone takes the time to be nice, if someone shares something (food, toys) with someone who really needs it, etc.]

Prayer

Ask God for help in seeing Jesus in others.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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