When you envision the Divine, who (or what) do you see? Is it a grandfatherly figure sitting on a throne in the clouds? A young man in Renaissance style clothing with long hair and a beard? A dove with an olive branch tucked neatly in her beak?
Who exactly is our risen Lord?
Apparently, even Jesus’ disciples had a difficult time recognizing their risen Lord. Our Gospel narratives that recount Jesus appearing to His followers all seem to have one surprising theme in common: none of them immediately knew that the man standing before them was Jesus. The Bible does not explicitly tell us why Jesus was not immediately recognizable. Surely, His followers had no expectation that they would see Jesus again, and it may be that our resurrected bodies do not exactly resemble our Earthly bodies. Jesus, indeed, was described in Isaiah 53 in quite unflattering terms, which makes me wonder if His resurrected body is a perfected version and thus unrecognizable to His closest friends. Either way, it is through a familiar action by Jesus that he becomes known, and this is what’s important.
In Jesus’ death and resurrection, God's relationship with humanity is restored. The veil of the temple is torn and now anyone can come face to face with the Divine, not just the Highest Priests after the strictest rituals of ceremonial cleansing. The question is, will we know the Divine when we come face to face with Them? If we are anything like Jesus’ followers, perhaps not right away; but when we do, it will be because of the relationship. Jesus’ followers knew Jesus when He called Mary by name in the voice she knew and loved, when He broke bread with His friends as they did so often together, when He allowed Thomas to touch Him and the shared memory of physical togetherness came flooding back.
We will know God because of the relationship we have with our God. We have a relationship with God because our Risen Lord is a relational God, and They invite us lovingly into Their triune relationship every moment of every day - as we are, just as we are.