Not Recognizing Jesus

April 24, 2022

David Sorn

Learn 3 ways we often fail to recognize Jesus moving among us.

Not Recognizing Jesus

April 24, 2022

David Sorn

Learn 3 ways we often fail to recognize Jesus moving among us.



Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

About 6 weeks ago I was flying with our church planters to a conference in Florida, and I was going through security at the Minneapolis / St. Paul Airport.

And I was going through, they flagged the guy in front of me for an extra security check.

You know where you have go through the body scanner, and then the rummage through your whole bag?

I think my mind was drifting to all of the things I had going on in life, and I’m sure I was just mindlessly staring at the guy.

Well, I go through security myself, and I’m grabbing my backpack, and this same guy turns around and looks me right in the eye.

And I thought, “Oh no! He must have seen me watching him, and pitying him as he had to have his bag checked!”

Now he’s going to be ask me what my problem is or something!

And he looks right at me, and he says, “David?! DAVID SORN!??!”

And it was one of my friends from High School, who I hadn’t seen in probably 20some years.

And I obviously didn’t recognize him, but as soon as he spoke, I recognized his voice.

And I said, “Joey?! Joey Williams??!”

And we had a fun little reunion there at the airport.


Sometimes in life, we just don’t recognize people right away.

And this morning, we’re going to look at an astounding example of this in the Bible.

Everybody grab a Bible

(Page 722 – Luke 24:13-35)

Last week, we left off at Luke chapter 24, verse 8.

We’re going to jump over verses 9-12 as we covered those verses in great detail at our Easter service in 2021 in a message called “NONSENSE” if you want to look that up on our app or online.

So we are on verse 13.

So grab a Bible. Page 722. Look for the big number 24, and then small number 13.

(Luke 24:13-19a)

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

I love that verse. J

(Not Recognizing Jesus Title Slide)

And so these 2 followers of Jesus are walking 7 miles home from Jerusalem.

They were in town that week for the Passover celebration.

And are now painfully aware (which they’re going to recount in a second) that Jesus has been killed.

And yet, even though they were followers of Jesus, they don’t recognize Jesus walking with them.

And I want to give you 3 reasons today for why they didn’t recognize Jesus

Certainly there is the spiritual reality of God’s timing and what he’s allowing them to see, but at the same time, there are also some significant issues in their own hearts that are impeding their recognition of Jesus.

3 Reasons they didn’t recognize Jesus

#1: They were grieving

In fact, we’re told that they are very sad.

That’s the end of verse 17.

Their faces are downcast.

These are not the faces of people who believe that Jesus JUST rose from the dead.

No, they think that he’s dead…

It’s a long and sad walk home for them.

It’s been said that the longest walk you’ll ever take home is when you walk away from the grave of someone you love.

They’re downcast.

And because they’re grieving, they’re not in the right frame of mind to recognize Jesus.

As much as we look down upon them (seriously, you didn’t recognize Jesus?!), put yourself in their sandals.

Imagine you were just at the funeral of a loved one, and your car runs out of gas on the way home.

And as you’re walking to the gas station, someone pulls up and asks you if you want a ride.

But, they look JUST like your loved one that you just buried.

Your brain would go, “Well, that’s not them…That’s impossible. That’s just their doppleganger…I’m just thinking that because I’m grieving. I’m not crazy.”

(Not Recognizing Jesus Title Slide)

And there’s a parallel here.

How often do we too, in our grief, not recognize Jesus?

I’m not good at that.

In our grief, often all we see…is our grief.

We see only our pain, our sadness, our emotion.

And yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus is walking right there with you.

Maybe that’s where some of you are right now?

If so, would you bravely open your eyes to this truth?

Jesus has told you that he would never leave you or forsake you, but be right there with you.

He IS with you.


Let’s keep reading, and we’ll see another reason they didn’t recognize Jesus

(Page 722 – Luke 24:13-35)

(Luke 24:19-24) – NIV

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

And in this section, there’s a 2nd reason why they didn’t recognize Jesus

3 Reasons they didn’t recognize Jesus

#1: They were grieving

#2: Jesus didn’t do what they expected

In a sense, they didn’t recognize the messiah, because they weren’t looking for the right thing!

So let’s start with verse 19.

How do they describe Jesus? What word do they use?

They’re still focused on the fact that he’s a PROPHET…good with miracles and speaking in public.

But they don’t understand yet that he’s the Savior of the World.

And while they were thinking about a Messiah, even then they were thinking about the wrong kind of Messiah.

Verse 21 is key. Do you see it?

They say, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel!”

We’ve been talking about that almost every week lately!

Jesus’ followers were convinced that Jesus was going to be an earthly messiah that liberated the Jews from their Roman oppressors!

And so these followers miss the significance of what is, THE most important event in history (the death & resurrection of Jesus), because they were too focused on what THEY expected Jesus to do.

“Jesus didn’t conquer Rome, so I guess He isn’t the Messiah after all”

And how many of us have missed what Jesus is doing in our lives simply because of those words.

Jesus didn’t do what we expected.

We thought for sure we’d get a job by now…or be married by now, or our family problems would be fixed by now…so where are you Jesus?

How much of the lukewarmness of our faith is because of this?

We grew lukewarm towards Jesus after He didn’t do what we expected Him to do.

(Not Recognizing Jesus Title Slide)

Some of you in this room have heard us talk about this concept on an International Missions Trip with us before.

Which, a quick aside, I’m happy to announce, we are finally sending out our team that was supposed to go to Rwanda in 2020! We will be going, actually, to Tanzania in Eastern Africa in late June!

And quick aside to the aside: We had a few spots open up on our team this past week, so if you want to share the Gospel with thousands in Tanzania this June, we have room for you to come.

The only challenge is we’re buying flights this week, so you’d have to decide in the next few days.

If you want to do something crazy for Jesus in Africa, talk to Pastor Josh after the service.

Okay, but if you’ve been on an international trip with us before, you know that one of the trip themes we teach is: NO EXPECTATIONS.

Because if you go into a trip with the idea that God is going to do A, B, C, and D… and He’s going to work through ME to do E, F, & G…

…you’re going to miss God!

When we were in Rwanda in 2016, and we had a plan to share the Gospel with 1 to 2 thousand kids during the week at local parks.

But when we got there, the Rwandan schools had decided to be in session another week.

And I was so frustrated.

Don’t judge me. I like to have life to go as planned.

But I remember thinking, “God, what are you doing?”

And a team member said, “NO EXPECTATIONS, DAVID!!”

And guess what, the schools said, “Hey, just come share the Gospel in our schools!”

“Like, seriously, in your schools?” Yeah!

And we shared Jesus with, not 2,000, but probably 20,000 students that week!

But if you insist that Jesus act how you want Him to act, you’ll miss out on what He’s doing.

Let me ask you: Are you Not Recognizing Jesus because He’s just doing something different than you expected?

I just finished the book “Joni,” which is the autobiography of Joni Eareckson Tada, and it’s one of the best-selling Christian books of the 20th century.

And it’s the story of Joni’s life, when, after a diving accident, she became a quadriplegic, losing feeling in her entire body expect from her shoulders up.

And in the beginning chapters, you read (or listen in my case) as she goes to multiple healing services, begging God to heal her.

And she becomes incredibly frustrated that He didn’t move as she expected!

And she asked, “God, where are you?!? Aren’t you with me?!”

I was warming up for a run as I was listening to that particular part of the book, and I just remember stopping and thinking, “What if God would have healed Joni as a teenager?”

I thought, “We wouldn’t even know her name”

And now she travels all over the globe, helping people with disabilities encounter Christ, and her books alone have been read (and encouraged) something like 5 million people.

And where was Jesus?

Right there with her.

But we won’t recognize Him if we are determined to decide HOW He must act!


So watch now as these followers get their expectations corrected.

(Page 722 – Luke 24:13-35)

(Luke 24:25-35) – NIV

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Let me give you now the 3rd reason why they didn’t recognize Jesus:

3 Reasons they didn’t recognize Jesus

#1: They were grieving

#2: Jesus didn’t do what they expected

#3: Their hearts were slow to believe

Verse 25: How foolish you are, how SLOW to believe.

The Greek this was written in actually says, “Slow of heart to believe”

We want so many proofs don’t we.

We say, “God, if you’re real, then do this.

And even when God in the flesh is right in front of them, it’s not enough.


It’s not because they don’t have all of the facts!

Their hearts are slow to believe.

And my friend, that’s just part of the challenge of being a sinful human being.

So what do we do about this challenge?

Really, there are 3 things here that help to open up their eyes.

Do you see verse 31, where it says, “Then their eyes were opened!” ?

There are certain things that will open our eyes more than others

Just like I didn’t recognize my friend from High School at first, but it was his VOICE that triggered all of my memories.

Let me put these “spiritual eye-openers” on the screen for you, because these are 3 things you need often in your life to keep your spiritual eyes from blurring out Jesus

3 Things That Open Your Eyes Spiritually

#1: Christian Community

The first thing that begins to soften their hearts or open their eyes is that these two friends are talking about God.

Jesus himself tells us in Matthew:

(Matthew 18:20) – NIV

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

And isn’t that a cool fulfillment of that verse?

2 have gathered, speaking of his name, and THERE HE IS (literally!) among them!

This is why one of our new core values is: We know our faith thrives in community but struggles without it.

If you get in a House Group with other Christians, and the more you get there, and start talking about Jesus, the easier it is for your faith to THRIVE and for you to recognize Him.

Jesus will move among you!

3 Things That Open Your Eyes Spiritually

#1: Christian Community

#2: Good Bible Teaching

Look at verse 27 again:

(Luke 24:27) – NIV

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Jesus is teaching them how the Old Testament points to Himself.

This was the best Bible study in the history of Bibles Studies.

And it’s the Word of God that begins to open their eyes.

This is why we say WE PUT GOD FIRST.

We prioritize the hearing of the Word on Sundays in our lives…and the reading of on our own, every day.

Because God’s Word keeps our eyes open to recognize Jesus among us.

3 Things That Open Your Eyes Spiritually

#1: Christian Community

#2: Good Bible Teaching

#3: The power of God

And finally, what opens their eyes is the power of God.

They have this spiritually powerful moment, where Jesus begins to give them the bread, and “A ha! They see! It’s Jesus”

Maybe it was even his nail scarred wrists handing them the bread.

But God moves, and their eyes are opened.

I sometimes think of these 3 “spiritual eye-openers” in this memorable way.

Our Children’s Pastor, Hannah Sommer, who has a faith I deeply respect, taught this next thing to me a few months ago, and it’s really stuck with me. She said:

As Christians, we need:

The People of God

The Word of God

The Spirit of God

And if you begin to leave any of those out in your life, it will be harder and harder for you to recognize Jesus moving.

But when these are in your life, rather than your heart being SLOW TO BELIEVE as this passage says, your heart will become QUICKER to believe.

And you’ll recognize Jesus walking with you more than ever.


(Not Recognizing Jesus Title Slide)

And let me take a minute to speak to those of you who are maybe just starting to recognize Jesus move in your life for the first time.

If that’s you, look at that incredible verse, verse 32 again:

(Luke 24:32) – NIV

32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They’re saying, “Didn’t we know? Didn’t we know it was Him, but we just couldn’t quite recognize it…or admit it…or surrender to it.”

Maybe that’s you.

Maybe you even came last week and you heard me talk about how Jesus Christ is God’s Son.

And how God sent Him to die for your sins.

That by dying on the cross, what He’s doing, is dying in your place.

Taking the justice that you deserve.

And that if you believe that He died for you, and you turn your life over to Him in faith, to make Him your leader, your faith will forgive you.

And make you right with God.

And maybe your heart even burned with you as I talked about it.

Or maybe this past week, it’s been burning with you

Maybe that’s why you’re back today.

If that’s you, the best thing you can do right now is to surrender to Him.

He’s calling you to Himself.

Trust Him. He is Good.

He’s been there all along.

He loves you.

If you need to surrender your life to Him for the first time today.

To “Accept Christ” as we call it.

That means to accept that He did die for you, and to receive Him in as leader of your life.

To open your eyes, and see His love for you.

If that’s you, let’s do this right now.

Let’s just have everyone close their eyes and bow their head for a second.

In just a minute, if you need to make that decision, I’m going to ask you to stand up

No one’s going to be looking at you, that’s why we had everyone close their eyes.

But sometimes in life, we just need that moment…to take a first step.

To say, “It’s me. My heart has been on fire. I believe you love me. I believe you’re there. I want to follow you!”

If that’s you, and you need to tell God for the first time today that you do believe, and you want to follow Him and be forgiven.

Then I invite you to stand where you are right now.

The Bible tells us that in this moment we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.


As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you standing up, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.

You won’t walk out there alone.

There are many others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you

And I, and our follow-up team, for just a couple of minutes, are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life (and then you can sneak back in the service).

If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.

All right, I’m going to pray, and you can go as I pray.

Go ahead. Let’s pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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