Are you capable of recognizing Jesus when you see Him? Even Jesus’ own followers didn’t recognize Him after His resurrection on the third day, at first thinking He was a gardener or a ghost.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” John 20:15

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. Luke 24:36-37

It may seem amusing that the disciples, who had been with Jesus throughout His ministry, failed to recognize Him when He appeared before them, but can you recognize Jesus for who He really is?

They Didn’t Recognize Jesus

Have you ever been reunited with a close friend or family member after a long time apart and found it difficult to recognize them? It’s natural to feel this way, considering that your loved one has aged with time. It’s also possible that they’ve undergone a major makeover, both in terms of their hair and their wardrobe, and that you simply wouldn’t recognize them suddenly.

When Jesus first appeared to the disciples, they didn’t know who He was. It’s acceptable if they were just scared by someone who died and then reappeared in front of them. But it wasn’t just anyone; it was Jesus! Furthermore, He has foretold His own death and promised His followers that He will rise again. In her grief, Mary Magdalene confused Jesus for the “gardener” who had come to tend to His body at the tomb. It was only when Jesus called her name that she realized who He was.

How Can You Recognize Jesus When He Returns?

The disciples recognize Jesus by His acts rather than his appearance. Mary was able to identify Him because He called her by name. When He blessed them with a huge haul of fish, John immediately realized it was Him.

Peter and the disciples went fishing. In the morning, Jesus appeared to them, but they didn’t recognize Him. He tells them to throw their nets to the right side, and they take in a large catch of fish. It gets a bit chaotic, but they make it to shore. As they are with Jesus, they wanted to ask Jesus who He was, but they didn’t because they knew it was Him. John 21:12 

So, how do we know Jesus when we see Him? Simply through getting to know Him, and the Bible is the best tool for doing just that. The more we study the Bible, the more likely we will be to recognize Jesus in our daily lives.

Recognizing Jesus in Your Daily Life

The Lord Jesus does not desire to be an objective figure whom we worship from afar. He purchased us with his blood and breathed new life into us so that he might permanently reside inside us and sustain us. Because Jesus is in us, He becomes, in our subjective experience, all-encompassing. Jesus could be found in a hug from a loved one, a random act of kindness, or an unexpectedly gorgeous sunset. You need only be more self-aware to experience God’s palpable presence.


Those who have never seen the Lord in person may have a hard time recognizing Jesus. In fact, not even His closest companions could immediately recognize Him. Jesus is not just alive but also physically among us. The best way to identify God is to get to know Him better through prayer, study of the Bible, and an increased awareness of His presence in your life. Do you find it hard to recognize Jesus right now? If you’re looking to grow in your relationship with God, the Bible Portal has a wide variety of passages and messages to help you along the way.