Seeing common things in uncommon places can be unsettling. I think that’s why elementary school children are surprised when they discover their teachers don’t, in fact, live at the school. Even adults can completely forget a frequently visited face when that person isn’t at the establishment where they are normally seen.

But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Mark 6:49-50

We will forgive the disciples, then, when Jesus approached them walking on water and they were unable to recognize him. It had less to do with their belief in ghosts and more to do with the sudden and unexpected arrival of their beloved teacher doing something they would have argued was impossible the moment before.

It wouldn’t take long for Peter to decide that he needed to visit Jesus on the water (a good example for us) and then doubt (a reminder of our own weaknesses). But even for those who remained on the boat, they now saw who Jesus was.

When we go into the world and behave in a Christlike manner, we are not only providing opportunities to people to recognize us and our congregations. Even if it takes a moment to catch on, we are helping people to recognize Jesus.

Ethan Kirl