Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Seeing" Jesus

I was recently touched by a meditation I read in one of my devotionals, "Our Daily Bread." The meditation was written by author Philip Yancey. I have been a long time fan of Mr. Yancey's books. He is very down to earth and transparent about his own personal struggles with Scriptural concepts. In this particular meditation, Mr. Yancey noted how many times human beings both in the Old and New Testaments were told not to be afraid as they were in the presence of some angelic being. For example, Daniel needed reassurance after receiving a disturbing vision. (Daniel 10:12) After Christ's resurrection, the women who came to anoint His body were reassured by an angel after seeing the stone rolled away. (Mark 28:5) Mary's reaction to the announcement that she would give birth to the Messiah required the angel to calm her fears. (Luke 1:30) Even, the apostle John needed a word of comfort when he saw a vision of the exalted Christ. (Rev. 1:17) Before Christ came to earth it was understood that no one could see God face to face and live to tell about it. Moses asked to see God's glory but was shielded in the cleft of a rock as the Lord passed by. Moses was able to see God's back but was told by the Lord that he could not see His face, "You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live." (Exodus 33:20) God in denying Moses' request to see the Lord face to face was not an intentionally cruel gesture but rather God's merciful compassion, for He knew His glory was too overwhelming for any human being to experience. After the birth of Christ, the angels calmed the fears of human beings, the shepherds in the fields, when the angelic hosts appeared in the night sky. The beautiful grace of God is that with the coming of Christ, for the first time ordinary people from kings to shepherds could look upon the face of God without fear of death. From Christ's parents, to rabbis, to a poor widow, all peoples from all walks of life could touch God's hand, ask Him questions, walk beside Him, hear His voice, look into His eyes, eat with Him, hold conversations, and even debate with Him. Jesus did not have to first announce, "Don't be afraid." Scholars and theologians can debate forever about the reasons God took on human form but the simple truth is that God loved us so much, He wanted to draw that close to us. Do you realize that every experience that Christ had as a human being was a first? Prior to becoming incarnate Christ reigned in glory with the Father. He did not experience need or lack anything. Hunger was not an issue, sleep was not necessary, pain and suffering did not exist, sadness, rejection, isolation were not part of Christ's experience prior to His coming to earth. And some day, when He returns, we will know what it is like for the first time to experience freedom from the difficulties of this fallen world. At the end of the meditation is a quote from F.B. Meyer, "God incarnate is the end of fear." Jesus Himself reassures us, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3) So, fear not!
Shalom,
Pastor Sheree

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