If you've been around the church of any length of time, you've probably heard something like this: "The reason that Jesus's disciples didn't recognize Him after the resurrection is because He disguised Himself." In other words, He didn't want them to recognize Him. That's why they can look Him right in the face and not know who He is.
What we have here is another one of those "answers" that creates more questions than it solves.
This notion, this idea, is basically saying that the God who has spent thousands of years revealing Himself, the God who met face-to-face with Moses, the God who let His glory pass by right in front of Moses, the God who visited Lot, the God who spoke with Elijah and Samuel and David, the God who crossed all eternity and the heavens and the earth to come to Bethlehem and be born as a human baby, even placing the brightest star in the night sky to lead some shepherds to the very place where He lay...for the first time ever, this God - still here in the flesh at this point, by the way - doesn't want you to find Him.
This notion is suggesting that this Jesus who hangs around at the empty tomb to welcome Mary, who walks with His disciples on their sorrowful journey out of Jerusalem, who stands on the seashore and fries fish to welcome His disciples after a long night of being at sea, doesn't want them to recognize Him.
What we're preaching when we preach this story is that God doesn't want you to just be able to see Him in your world.
Do you get why this narrative doesn't make any sense? It's not consistent with God's nature. It's not consistent with God's story. It is a violent aberration from everything that God is and always has been and has ever claimed to be.
It's just not possible to say that this God who spent His entire history walking right beside you doesn't want you to recognize Him, so He disguises Himself. Like He's doing some magic trick. Like He just wants to fool you. Like He wants to string you along for just so long and then pull off His mask and be like, "Just kidding. It was Me all along."
I think it's more likely that what we were talking about yesterday is the truth - that we know God best by His character, by His speech, by His love in the world and not by His appearance.
And if you need further proof of how it is that Jesus's own disciples could not seem to recognize His physical appearance, just remember that Judas had to show the soldiers of the high priests - the men absolutely bent on capturing and killing Him - which one He was when they got to the garden. The truth about Jesus is that He was so plain that you couldn't pick Him out of a crowd.
But oh, listen to Him speak love.
The moment He speaks, there's no doubt any more which one He is. The moment He calls you by name, you know it's Him. When the smell of that fish hits your nose and your nets are so full, they're starting to break, you don't have to ask who that is. When the Scriptures open up and someone tells you the truth about what's going on, it has to be Jesus.
He simply isn't known by His face. He is, and always has been, known by His love. Period.