40 days

Richard Dawson, 9 May 2016

After Jesus was killed came the silence of the Sabbath and then Mary’s encounter which was the beginning of a 40 day period during which the risen Christ was seen by literally hundreds of people. Some recognised Him immediately. Others, including Mary herself, didn’t at first. Many things about Him were the same; he retained the wounds from his time on the Cross; he could eat; he did look something like he had before but He was also different. Mary mistook Him for a gardener. In Luke 24 though He appears ‘in the flesh’ the disciples doubt that it is He and are frightened to the extent that He must appeal to them saying “Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” On the road to Emmaus two disciples who knew him well walked several miles with Him and still didn’t recognise him. What’s going on!?
One answer comes from the realisation that in these very special encounters the people who meet Jesus are seeing something more than just a body. Rather they are seeing Jesus partly transfigured again into His eternal self and that very aspect of Him hides something of his nature as a human being. Not that He has lost anything human. Rather He is gaining an eternal frame which like the light which is God—is so bright that we cannot fully comprehend it. We are so used to seeing things that make sense that when we see something that is slightly different it confuses our minds severely. God is not the same as anything or everything else. He is significantly and radically other to the extent that we always need to keep an open mind about what God might do and what and whom God might work through. This is both a concern and a joy. We need to be concerned not to confine God to our ‘normal’ and to realise that God can use anything in Creation to reveal and glorify Himself.

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