I can probably name all of the appearances Jesus made after his resurrection. What I haven’t done is analyze the context of his appearances. He didn’t come busting through walls like the Kool Aid man, he never wowed anyone first with a fancy trick, he refrained from personal confrontation. Instead, he did the following:
- He visited his friends. Jesus’ resurrected body was not a apparition or a ghost, he wasn’t around to haunt his enemies or confront those that sent him to death. He preferred to reassure Thomas, reconcile with Peter, and comfort Mary.
- He preferred to be barely noticed. Mary mistook him for a gardener, the friends on the road to Emmaus spent miles with him and didn’t notice who he was, and he tarried in the distance cooking breakfast while the disciples fished.
- The context of his appearances were rather ordinary. Appearing in a garden, walking along a road, preparing breakfast in the early morning, stopping by in an upper room. These were just normal locations in normal settings. There was nothing sensational or amazing about the context of the conversation or the encounter.
Frederick Buechner, our great theologian of the midst of life, states:
In other words, it is precisely at such times as these that Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but…supper time, or walking along a road. This is the element that all the stories about Christ’s return to life have in common….
The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments, the moments which, if we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only… the gardener, a stranger coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other meal. But if we look with our hearts…what we may see is Jesus himself, what we may hear is the first faint sound of a voice somewhere deep within us saying that there is a purpose in this life, in our lives…
I find it reassuring that I am more likely to encounter Jesus as I drive and walk into my workplace than I am in some burst of knowledge or words written in the sky. Also, that Jesus is concerned about the ordinary and even seems to prefer it. He certainly can use the miraculous and the profound but he isn’t above using a meal or some kids running around or an ordinary argument among friends.
We could be missing God’s voice and purposes and direction because we expect something grander and amazing. Perhaps Jesus wants us to recognize “the miracle of one instance of our precious life to the miracle of the next.”