"Who is that man?" The disciples had been on the road with Jesus for three years. They had been virtually homeless. Eating, sleeping, ministering and working side by side, they had become a tight band of brothers with Jesus. How could they not recognize Him?
It's hard to imagine, right? But, after Jesus' resurrection the disciples were confused, and needed time to process, regroup, and even grieve. They needed a break doing something familiar and reassuring; so, as men will do, they went fishing.
Imagine their conversations as they fished. Hashing and rehashing everything that had happened over the past three years, checking their memories with each other to make sure they weren't crazy, reminiscing about the first time they met Jesus. They had been fishing without luck then, too, when a solitary stranger on the shore called out to them. Were they wondering about what had possessed them to follow this stranger's command to 'try again' by throwing their nets off the wrong side of the boat, an action that defied all logic and safety? Remembering how their nets had been filled to overflowing.
Was it true? Did all that really happen or are our memories playing tricks on us? Was it all a lie? They had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried with their own eyes, now they were back fishing again, and their nets were empty. It was like the last three years had never happened.
Then they saw another stranger on the shore, who addressed them as friends and instructed them to throw their nets out from the wrong side of the boat just as Jesus had, and when they did their nets were filled. Their eyes had failed them. They had not recognized the person standing there as Jesus, but they recognized what the person did as Jesus; and they knew that His Spirit lives on!
On another occasion, after Jesus' resurrection, Cleopas and one of his friends dejectedly trudged down the road to Emmaus. Their conversation was probably similar to the one the fishermen had. "Why oh why?" "What for?" "What now?" and "Poor me." Then a stranger joined them. As they walked, He taught them, reminding them of what the scriptures said about the Messiah from the time of Moses on. He even accepted their dinner invitation. But, it was not until He took the bread, broke it and gave thanks, just as He had in the Upper Room, that they realized Jesus was with them. Their eyes had failed them. They had not recognized the man walking with them as Jesus; but they recognized what the person did as Jesus; and they knew that His Spirit lives on!
We are called to be that stranger! We are called to reach out to those in despair. We may not look like Jesus on the outside; but His Spirit lives on in us!
"But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative - that is the Holy Spirit- He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26 NLT