This week I’ve been overcome by waves of joy that have seemed to visit me out of nowhere. Simple things like seeing a neighbor working in her garden, watching another neighbor walking her dog . . . we’re a community of people doing everyday, mundane things, but for some reason I have been seeing love everywhere.
My daughter is enjoying a special time in her life — a new someone has come along, could be “the one” … Love is in the air.
I can’t help but think about the love Jesus brought everywhere He went. This story is the next segment of the devotional eBook I’m working on making my way through the Gospel narratives of his life. In case you are new to this blog, the book is titled “Come and See” and this particular chapter fits it to a T.
Hope you enjoy! Please pass it along to your email friends who might want to subscribe to email notifications.
8 – The Unveiling Begins
“Come and see.”
When Jesus First Showed Up
From the heights of glory
to the desert valley of human need
and to the river of our troubles
came our God.
In full stride,
in power and authority,
the Holy One from heaven not only came to us,
He stayed with us,
And will always be one of us.
John son of Zebedee …
One of my favorite memories of Jesus is the moment he turned around, looked at Andrew and me, and asked, “What do you want?”
His eyes held mine in that tiny span of time. This made my heart leap; he looked at Andrew the same way—expectant and glad.
Andrew and I glanced at each other, both of us tongue tied. I looked back at the Baptist, who stood on the other side of the stream, happily watching us. We’d just left his side to chase after the man he’d pointed out to us, for the second day in a row, saying, “Look, the Lamb of God.” We had no idea what he meant. We learned though, three years later, exactly what the prophet’s utterance involved. But, when first meeting Jesus, we knew nothing.
It felt like minutes passed after Jesus posed his simple question, though it took a little more than a second before I managed to blurt out, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
First of all, he’d never taught anyone yet. I had no idea why I called him, “Rabbi.” But I would be his disciple and follow him anywhere if he’d have me.
I know it’s typical to ask what somebody wants when that person comes up to you directly. But Jesus’ question to us held more than that. It is his way with words and everything he does. With him, what seems typical or ordinary, never is. Of course, it’s taken me awhile to come to that. No, with him, one needs to pay attention, ponder, and reflect. Otherwise you miss what he’s about and the wonders he manifests.
He knew how much I wanted to be with him that first day. He knew it more than I did. I was made to desire him, little did I know it then. The twinkle in his eye, the look on his face—he certainly knew it upon first sight of us. When he asked us what we wanted, he knew it was him, would always be him, forever.
He smiled, turned on his heel, and the words “Come and see” trailed playfully behind him.
He brought us to his place in the village where he was staying and where the three of us spent the rest of the day. He opened our eyes and hearts to heaven and we were never the same.
The next day, Simon Peter joined us, and soon Philip and Nathanael—this was the beginning of the beginning. The Word of God had come to show his face to us. In his presence, we became our truest selves: made to know him and enjoy him.
Nathanael, a disciple of Jesus . . .
When the Lord appeared at the banks of the Jordan River, his heart was full of secrets he would soon reveal. But the most wondrous thing that he showed us—the greatest mystery of all he’d come to disclose, that most desired treasure—was himself. The face of God humankind had always longed to see, suddenly appeared before us.
No one knew who Jesus was that day John the Baptizer introduced him to a couple of men, saying, “Behold , the Lamb of God . . .” He also called Jesus the “Bridegroom” who had come from Heaven.
John knew about Jesus because the Holy Spirit told him, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”
After Jesus’ testing time in the desert, he returned to the Jordan where he had been baptized forty days earlier. Upon seeing him then, the prophet John announced, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God . . . He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” And, although no one knew what he meant, the veil between God and humankind began to fall away. Jesus came to let us clearly see God for the first time.
In fact, Lord Jesus saw me before I saw him.
He saw me while I was praying beneath a fig tree. But the strange thing is, he couldn’t have seen me with his physical eyes because I had been on the other side of town when he “saw” me.
Philip had come to my house and banged excitedly on my door, interrupting my time of prayer in the courtyard of my house, which was in a walled-in garden area with fruit trees.
I hadn’t seen Phillip in weeks, and now here he was at my door, his rapid, breathless words flying at me. “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
I shook my head. Was my friend out of his mind? “What?” I said, wrinkling up my entire face, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
“Come and see.”
Philip took hold of my sleeve and dragged me out of my house and brought me directly to the man Jesus.
What I encountered upon first sight of the True and Living God will always remain a vivid memory. He said to me, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”
Was he being sarcastic? I still don’t know.
I sized him up—surely he was not the one Philip took him for—he didn’t look like much. “How do you know me?” I asked him.
“I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
He grinned with the words, so full of divine knowing, so full of joy, so full of secrets, so beyond anything I could imagine or hope for…. In that instant I wanted to worship him.
With one sentence he turned my world upside down, or perhaps I should say right side up.
Oh, Heaven! That is the invitation into the mystery, the glory, and the wonder of our God.
Our hearts beat faster now. Our eyes see clearer now. God smiles on us, just as Jesus smiled at nearly everyone he met, including me. For truly, God himself had come to give his eternal blessing to those who would be his own.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you;
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26, High Priestly Blessing
God wants to shine his face toward us—to smile at us. He gave this blessing to Moses to give to Aaron with which to bless his people. And when Jesus came, this became the most wonderful reality. Jesus came to shine the face of God upon us! This was the unveiling—the beginning—of God’s love and redemption made known.
What a wonder . . .
The Scriptures so intimately describe the day Jesus stepped into the public eye, ready to begin his ministry, ready to make himself known to the world. Immediately, he had followers. They were ordinary men, not the learned and educated. He welcomed them with joy.
“The next day John saw Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ . . .”
Let this moment come alive in your heart. If you were there, what would you have thought? You would have looked at the man being pointed out. Of course you would. You would have sized him up in your mind and heart. What is his demeanor like? What is he doing as you look at him? Why is he at the Jordan, returning there day after day? Was he watching John, listening? Waiting? He wasn’t right beside John, he was apart from him, but nearby.
When you see Jesus, you might think … He’s just like the rest of us. What is the meaning of the Baptist’s strange words, you wonder. You are a person who has grown up in the tradition of animal sacrifices. How many countless lambs have been offered up to God for the peoples’ sins over the many years? And, so, you ask, how can a person be a Lamb of God?
This name by which the Baptist called Jesus had tremendous significance—for it held the clue to the purpose for which the Son of God had come to earth. After the Passover meal with his disciples and the new covenant in his blood was established, this title would mean more to those who had heard John’s first announcement about Jesus as the Lamb of God.
Jesus was God’s own atoning sacrifice for sins—once and for all.
Today we have the benefit of hindsight. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, giving us the revelation of John’s testimony about Jesus. Those at the Jordan that first day did not because it was just the beginning of God’s unveiling.
Scripture says that when Jesus returns, riding the clouds of heaven, the hem of his white robe will have been dipped in blood. On earth, during his reign in the Messianic Age, the lion and lamb will peacefully lie down together. No more blood, or pain, or sorrow. All this is a wonder, when we view God’s Larger Story. How we long for the days of Eden restored. How deeply our souls long for the fullness of intimacy with God to be ours again.
John the Baptist testified about Jesus’ identity and directed the people to behold him. Just like Jesus’ first disciples, we want to follow him and be with him. Jesus invites each of us to daily “Come and see.”
Just imagine . . .
Do you see Jesus excited and delighted to be with John and Andrew? Can you imagine them sitting with Jesus all afternoon and evening, maybe late into the night, conversing with him? What things do you think they talked about? Afterwards, Andrew went to his brother, Simon, and said, “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew’s response after one day with Jesus was that he believed he was the long-awaited Hope of Israel. He couldn’t wait to bring his brother, Simon Peter, to him.
Try to imagine these events and enjoy the experience. Can you see their enamored faces? Can you see Jesus talking with his hands, using Scriptures to draw their hearts in? Can you imagine Jesus facial expressions, his voice, his intense feelings, his laughter? This was the first time God spoke about himself face to face as humans do, about himself and what he wanted to do on earth.
How is it these two men so quickly hoped he was the Messiah? Jesus refrained from personally disclosing this until much later, and when he did tell his disciples, he told them it was a secret they must keep until he was ready to send the Holy Spirit. He told only one person he was the Messiah, and her story is coming up soon.
Journal Exercise . . .
What was it like the time you first met Jesus? Sometimes we come to know Him as a process of experiences and learning, but is there one time that stands out when you can say you saw him “face to face” and it felt amazing? Relive it in your memory and describe the experience in your journal. Invite Jesus to share this memory with you. What do you think it was like for Him? Ask Him.
What do you think it will be like when you see Jesus for the first time in heaven? Will you feel “familiar” towards him, because you’ve known him already? Will you be afraid, falling at his feet, overcome by his glory? Knowing him, what do you think he’ll want your shared first face to face experience to be like? Food for thought and prayer.