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What Jesus’ Disciples Didn’t Know PDF Print Write e-mail
Friday, 19 September 2014 19:57

God is not mute: the Word spoke, not out of a whirlwind, but out of the human larynx of a Palestinian Jew. 

Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus the first moment he sat around with the circle of his disciples after they had finally become friends?

We all know what it is to get acquainted with new people, the awkward pauses and measured words as people get to know each other. Certainly the disciples went through that with Jesus. Just who was this Teacher and Miracle-worker and who were these other men who decided to follow him?

It might have happened during a conversation after a meal, or walking together on a road, but at some point they found themselves safe enough with him and each other to let down their guard. No longer measuring words or trying to impress each other, they slipped into the fruits of their burgeoning friendship—the freedom to be honest, to laugh, to ask the seem­ingly stupid question, and to relax in each other’s presence.

What must that have felt like to Jesus? Had this been what he had always wanted?

For the first time since that cruel day in Eden, God was sit­ting down with people he loved and they were not cowering in fear.

For centuries men and women had stood at a great distance from God, shamed by their sin and intimidated by his holiness. With only a few notable exceptions, people wanted nothing to do with the immediacy of God’s presence. When Mt. Sinai shook with thunder and earthquakes, the people begged Moses to go to God for them. God was a terrifying figure and feeling safe with him was unthinkable. But God had never thought so. His plan to restore the fel­lowship with humanity that Adam and Eve had lost in their fall was unfolding. In Jesus, he was able to sit down in the company of those he loved and they were comfortable enough to engage him in a real conversation. What an incredible moment that must have been for Jesus, to be with people who were not so awed by him, that they could not enjoy his presence.

Of course, it only happened because they had no idea that it was God who stoked the fire as they sat around and laughed. For although we now know that Jesus was God incarnate on earth, they had no idea and that made all the difference. 

GOD IN DISGUISE

I like arriving early at places I’m supposed to speak so that I can meet the people who’ve invited me and still have time to mingle among the gathering crowd. I introduce myself only by my first name and never let on that I’m the speaker. Surprisingly few people ever figure it out and so I get to engage in real con­versations with the people before I speak.

I’ve learned that people treat me differently before they learn I’m the speaker or the author from out of town. They are so much more themselves, and willing to talk freely about their lives and their aspirations. Once they find out who I am, all of that changes. They are far more self-conscious and inhibited, preferring to focus questions on me and my work. Finding out who I am destroys the level of fellowship I enjoy most with people.

Admittedly it might be a bit misleading. I’ve watched people near me cringe with embarrassment when I’m finally intro­duced. Some even come up after and apologize for not realizing who I was and for “going on” about their children or their work, as if those things have just become trivial because of who I am. But I remind them that I was the one who asked and wouldn’t have done so if I wasn’t interested.

Once people put me in the guest-speaker box, it is hard for me to climb out. It usually takes a long time for people to relax and let me be the brother in Christ I really am. As confining as the guest speaker role can be for me, I suspect the God-box into which people put God is vastly worse for him. So I understand why he had to take on a disguise to have the relationship with people he had always desired.

The disciples were with the physical presence of God, and were completely unaware of it. They knew he was a man of God, of course. Who could watch his miracles and listen to his wisdom without knowing that?

On at least one occasion they identified him as the Messiah, but there was nothing in the first-century Jewish hope of the Messiah that said he would be God incarnate. They expected him to be a man, empowered by God as was Moses, David or Elijah. But the idea that God would take on human flesh and live that way on the earth would have been unthinkable.

How could the holy God live among sinful people and engage them face-to-face? Their history told of such moments when God’s presence came to his people. Even the most righ­teous had fallen on their faces in fear and some of the most evil had died. They thought that’s what God wanted, but as we’ll see their response had far more to do with how sin reacted to God than how God wanted to be known. 

THE UNVEILING

So God disguised himself, first as a baby in a manger, then as a young boy growing up in Nazareth and finally as a young man walking the hills of Galilee. No one had any idea God had come to live among them; and because of that no one cowered in fear or acted awkwardly with him.

For the first time since he walked the garden with Adam and Eve, God was among people the way he had always wanted to be. Broken lives were drawn to him, not repelled. His followers were secure enough in his presence to be genuine, even when that revealed their lust for power or their arrogance over others. Now God could experience the relationship he’d always wanted with his people.

Not even in the last day of his life before he was crucified had the disciples figured out who Jesus really was. Jesus said as much during the last meal he ate with them. “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” When the disciples questioned him on it, certain they had no idea who his Father was, he got even clearer: “Don’t you know me even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:7-9).

But now he wanted them to know. The disguise was about to come off. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” In a few hours he would be taken from them, tried, tortured and executed. The next time the disciples would see him he would be the resurrected Christ. There would be no hiding who he really was.

How would the disciples treat him then? Would they resort to cowering away in terror of his majesty? Jesus didn’t want that realization to destroy the relationship he’d cultivated with them, but to make it grow even stronger.

His words in the upper room were designed to help them move the relationship they had experienced with Jesus in the flesh to the Father they didn’t yet know, to the post-resurrected Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. Instead of being with them in the flesh, however, God would come and dwell within. But not only could the relationship continue there, Jesus told them it would be even better than they had already experienced with him.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

JOHN 14:20

Read those words again. Having just told them that he and the Father were one because the Father was in him, now he invites them into that same relationship. You will be in me and I will be in you.

In these simple words Jesus reveals what God’s desire had been from the first day of creation—to invite men and women into the relationship that God has known with himself for all eternity. It is as if they could no longer keep to themselves the joy, love, glory and trust that they had always shared together. Their purpose in creating the world was to invite us as mere cre­ation to share the wonder of that relationship.

TENDER IMAGES

The friendship Jesus shared with his disciples was the model for the relationship he extends to you. He wants to be the voice that steers you through every situation, the peace that sets your heart at rest in trouble and the power that holds you up in the storm. He wants to be closer than your dearest friend and more faithful than any other person you’ve ever known.

I know it sounds preposterous. How can mere humans enjoy such a friendship with the Almighty God who created with a word all that we see? Do I dare think that he would know and care about the details of my life? Isn’t it presumptuous to even imagine that this God would take delight in me, even though I still struggle with the failures of my flesh? It would be if this were not his idea. He’s the one who offered to be your loving Father—sharing life with you in ways no earthly father ever could.

Don’t relegate this invitation to an abstract spiritual plane. When Scripture talks about the relationship God wants with us he borrows the most tender images of our world. He calls us young children beloved by a gracious Father; the bride of an expectant bridegroom; friends dear enough to die for and little chicks rushing under the protective wings of a hen.

He is obviously serious about the intimacy and security of a relationship with him built on love and trust. Many shy away from such thoughts, feeling they demean the transcendence of the Almighty God. To be honest, their fears are often fulfilled in those who feign a chumminess with God that distorts who he really is.

But we must not let an abuse of others keep us from the real thing God offers us. As we shall see finding a true friendship with the Living God never demeans who he is. It doesn’t reduce him to our level and allow us to treat him tritely; it only defines his Fatherhood in ever-more grandeur.

The fact that my earthly father extends to me his friend­ship does not diminish his fatherhood. It only defines it more clearly. Just because I’m his friend, doesn’t mean I don’t also give him respect as my father. He wants us to so trust his love so that we can be secure in his presence. But it is still the presence of the Living God, which makes this friendship all that much more incredible.

To experience it, however, we need to appreciate just how much we are loved. That isn’t easy for a generation of believers who have been invited to know him, not because he is so over­whelmingly wonderful, but because we were scared to death by the threat of an eternity in hell.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

—JOHN 15:15

For your personal journey

Spend a few moments thinking about your relationship with God. Do you see it growing in closeness and sensitivity, or does it feel abstract? Is he more real than your closest friend, or a dis­tant presence that rarely seems to engage the real issues of your life? If your relationship with him isn’t what you want it to be, ask him to help you grow to know him better and to recognize his presence throughout each day.

Wayne Jacobsen

Excerpted from the book He Loves Me

http://simplechurch.com.ua/en/resursy/knigi-materialy.html?start=6

 

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