Friday, November 1, 2013

Recognition (part 2 of 2)

So when the reader of Scripture comes across something like “Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him,” he or she is swiftly transported to the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, where there is met two people that are identified as disciples of Jesus (as there were many more than just twelve) that are traveling from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus.  These disciples “were talking to each other about all the things that had happened” (24:14), which was the crucifixion of Jesus, along with the report of His tomb being discovered to be empty.  Luke writes that “While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus Himself approached and began to accompany them (but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him)” (24:16).  Like Joseph with his brothers, who had come to believe that Joseph was dead, Jesus would have recognized these individuals as two of His disciples, though they did not recognize Him. 

In Genesis, after the moment of recognition, Joseph goes on to accuse the men of being spies.  In Luke, Jesus says “You foolish people---how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (24:25)  Joseph’s brothers, taken aback at the accusation, vehemently deny the accusation and declare their innocence of this charge, saying “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers.  We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan.  The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive” (42:13). 

It is not difficult to imagine the response of these disciples of Jesus to His words, not knowing Who it was that spoke to them.  They would have protested in much the same way as Joseph’s brothers, thinking and saying something like “No, we followed Him because we did believe the prophets!  In fact, we just came from Jerusalem, where we were with our brethren, His chosen disciples.  He had twelve of them.  One of them, however, is no longer alive.”  

Later on, Joseph would reveal himself to his brothers at a shared feast that he had prepared for them, just as Jesus would reveal Himself to these two disciples, opening their eyes to see Him when “He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (24:30b).  Genesis records that Joseph’s brothers would quickly return to their homeland to inform their father Jacob that Joseph was still alive---a veritable resurrection!  The Emmaus road disciples are said to have been hardly able to contain their own excitement at their experience, as Luke’s Gospel reports that their first inclination was to go and speak of the risen Lord (24:34), as they immediately returned to Jerusalem to recount these things to His gathered disciples. 

Reading the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of the Resurrection of the Righteous One, just as Israel read their Scriptures in the light of their expectation of the covenant God’s historical intervention on their behalf which would bring about the resurrection of the righteous dead, is the means by which the Scriptures, both “Old” and “New,” gain the fullness of their meaning.  By this, the reader and the believer gains a fuller and far more complete recognition of Jesus---eyes wide open.  Apart from this manner of reading, it may be well nigh impossible to recognize Him.

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