Nearly four years ago now, the whole world was sent reeling from the intrusion of a silent invader. Daily activities came grinding to a corresponding, silent halt. Populations stopped still in their tracks and stared blankly in an effort to take in what was occurring all around them. As new health-safety guidelines were set in place, masks appeared out of nowhere, offices and businesses shuttered, schools and restaurants closed. There was global panic. Certain personal tissues disappeared off shelves, caused by a hoarding public. Then, distant- learning and working became a ‘thing.’ Online platforms sprang up overnight, sending the masses to their computers. Virtual meetings were the new format for work and study. Without realizing what was happening, relationships lost two dimensions and the world came to see people as flat images on a screen. Later, meeting those individuals in person was a strange experience. No longer just talking heads, seeing the embodied reality, with dimensions completely other than those pictured from the screens, made those same people almost unrecognizable. It was almost like characters in a novel coming to life and interacting with live voices and three-dimensional bodies. An overall jarring experience!
God is ‘met’ through the reading of His Word. But no one actually saw Him. If they almost saw Him, they fell down as if stricken dead. So, like us, the Israelites ‘pictured’ Him as they supposed He might be. Over time, that picturing morphed to fit current circumstances, sometimes enlarging Him to provide a sense of bravery, sometimes reducing Him to eliminate the fear factor. By the 1st Century AD, God’s deliverer of His people, the Messiah, had taken the supposed form of a conquering warrior, prepared to wield the sword and drive Rome from the sacred, Promised Land of Israel and re-establishing the much-longed-for sovereignty of a bygone era. The Messiah would arrive on the scene, powerful and regal, amass an army, and declare war on all invading peoples.
Then Jesus, the Messiah, arrived. A human. An infant. No public fanfare. When he went public with his ministry, his country bumpkin upbringing in a small backwater village, raised not a few eyebrows. Joseph’s son? The carpenter Joseph? From Nazareth? The homespun clothing, the Galilean accent, the lack of education, the unknown credentials, all were causes for ridicule among the in-crowd in Jerusalem. His men, the disciples, too, had been taught to expect just such a conqueror. But with Jesus, the man, their friend, they were most confused watching him heal, do miracles, raise the dead, walk on water, be transfigured.
Once, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus responded that, if they’d seen him, they’d seen the Father as he and the Father were one (John 14:9). Pastor/Author Brian Zahnd says: ‘God is just like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. We have not always known what God is like – But now we do.’ Imagine! The hall of heroes written about in Hebrews chapter 11:
“ . . . did not receive what was promised. That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.” Hebrews 11:39,40 VOICE. Does any joy accompany our seeing, in these last days, the completion of the Promise? PD