Have you noticed that when Jesus appeared after the resurrection he was often not recognized by the disciples? They did not recognize him on the road to Emmaus and failed to recognize him on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when he prepared breakfast for them. Even at the tomb Mary Magdalene did not at first recognize Jesus when he appeared to her.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Why would Jesus not be immediately recognizable? Well, the risen Jesus is by definition different than he was prior to the resurrection. While he had a body, it was not a body exactly like ours since Jesus was no longer subject to death. In that sense, it makes sense that his physical body would look and sound somewhat different.
Another possible reason that Jesus may not have been immediately recognizable might have been that his appearance may have been intentionally different to teach the disciples a lesson about their need to see Jesus in others. This is an important teaching for all of us. Can we see him in the people in our lives?