Seeing Jesus

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My friend gave me her JESUS sign for me to use as an illustration in a  Vacation Bible School class. The story was on the Bartimaeus, a blind man, whom Jesus heals.  Once he is healed, the first person he sees, is Jesus.

None of the kids had ever seen this optical illusion.  Every age group loved the moment that their eyes allowed them to see the word “JESUS.”  “Oh! I see it!” they would say.  “I see it! I see it!  I see Jesus!”  “Do you see it?  Here let me show you…so you he can see him too!”

Vacation Bible School was a month ago, and JESUS is still  in my car.  He’s a quiet passenger, listening in on conversations.

He has driven with me all around town, He has been with me as I have talked on my phone, talked to myself, talked to the radio, and talked to my kids.

He is with me as I leave an early morning Bible study, and hear on NPR that my brothers and sisters in Christ in South Carolina have been murdered, while studying the Word and being in prayer, and tears run down my face, and my only words are “Dear Jesus…”

He is listening in on conversations as I pick my children up from their week of church camp, and I ask them what Bible verse they learned and they tell me that the theme was on Wearing Love and the Fruits of the Spirit, and I think about their spiritual formation and how their formational theology is the message that Christianity is above all about love and acceptance. As I drive them home, sun-kissed and weary from a week of prayer, play and fellowship, I hear them list the Fruits of the Spirit and talk about wearing love, compassion, and kindness, I wonder if they will ever need to defend their beliefs to other card-carrying Christians.  I wonder if some day they will be told that their theology of grace and love is insufficient for their salvation.

I look over at JESUS, and I wonder what he sees.

He is with me as I hear the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage and I hear the radio use the word Christian, and I pray, “Dear Jesus, once again we are divided.” I lament that I cannot see how Christians will ever be one in the Spirit and one in the Lord.

I look over at JESUS, and I wonder what he sees.

Could it be that when we look at each other, we have not quite trained our eyes, because if we could look beyond black and white,  we would see JESUS?

I realize there is only way for us to see Jesus. It’s Grace. Not flimsy, cheap, pithy grace, but deep, abiding, amazing grace, that sees our wretched, sinful, violent selves and saves us all despite of ourselves.

Dear Jesus,

Help me to see grace. Help me to see grace in myself and in others. Help me to lean into grace. Help me to be an example of grace to others.  Help me to see you in the daily.  So often I cannot see you, because I am too judgmental, or angry, or afraid. Sometimes in the wake of violence, I doubt if you are really there.  But then I see grace, and I believe.   Give me the eyes to see you. Give me the joy of a child when you reveal yourself to me. Give me such enthusiasm, that I cannot wait to exclaim, “Oh! Now I see Him!”

Amen.

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One thought on “Seeing Jesus

  1. Yes, it is bedeviling that Jesus can on the one hand seem so close to us, and at the same time, be so apparently far away from the events that crowd into our days. Jesus is most often close when we are hearing the Word being proclaimed, or when we are in prayer, or when we are singing great hymns of the faith, or when we are listening to young people tell us that a week of service to others was the best week of their life, or hear another young person testify that he never knew it could be so much fun to help others. But where is Jesus in the conflicts over gay marriage in which Christians line up on both sides of the issue? where is Jesus when ISIS launches an attack upon worshiping Shia in Kuwait? or when a hate-crazed youth shoots down nine Christians engaging in Bible study in South Carolina? These are situations in which Jesus seems so distant.

    And then we have to remind ourselves that the revelation of God in Jesus in not just about grace, nor is it just about all of the events that bring us to discouragement or tears, nor is it just about suffering and death. It is above all about HOPE. This hope is not grounded in wishful thinking, or in the idealistic worlds that we sometime imagine. No it is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus. After Jesus had been defeated by both the religious powers and the secular powers of his age, after he had been beaten, rejected, crucified, and buried, then God said “No!” to the whole course of events. He proclaimed “This is not how the story ends.” And on the third day, Jesus was not only alive, but appearing to his followers, and sharing with them the message, that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even our feelings of forsakenness, nor all of the evils that the world can bring against us. The presence of Jesus to his disciples and to us is itself a proclamation that death is not the victor, that the power of God deprives it of its strength, and in the presence of Jesus there is hope that life triumphs over death, and grace is more powerful than evil.

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