Sometimes Jesus appears in unlikely places.
Sometimes when we least expect him, Jesus is there. Have you ever seen Jesus? I’m not talking about in a bodily form walking on the road with us and I’m not talking about seeing him in a near death experience like the boy Colton, in the movie, Heaven is for real. I’m talking about seeing Jesus in the world around us or in times of worship and prayer or in the words of scriptures or in those we serve or in those who love and serve us. Have you ever seen Jesus or felt his presence so powerfully that you just knew he was there by your side?
The day of my Grandmother’s funeral all our family and friends gathered at her beach house in Connecticut. It had rained all day but when late afternoon came the skies cleared just enough for the sun to appear as it was setting. The sky filled with spectacular color and we all went outside and stood to watch the most amazing sunset. It was a sure sign that Jesus was with us. We had seen him in the setting of the sun. I have heard Jesus in the words he has spoken; words of comfort, words of challenge, words that were directed to my heart and life at just the right moment and words that have shaped my faith and life. I have heard the voice of Jesus in the prayers of my friends. A few years ago many of us saw Jesus in the presence of a Mama Maggie Gorban. From the moment she walked on the stage at the Leadership Summit to the haunting stillness and power of her words, there was a sense that we were seeing and experiencing Jesus. So, I’ll ask again, where and when have you seen Jesus?
For the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t really see Jesus when he came up and began walking with them. Their hearts were heavy with sorrow and it says their eyes were cast down so maybe they didn’t look into Jesus face or eyes. Because of their confusion and fear kept them from thinking he could be alive and so they certainly didn’t expect to see him along the road. Even when Jesus tried to teach them the truth and how he promised to die and rise again, the words didn’t open their eyes, it wasn’t until Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and gave it to them that suddenly their eyes were opened and they saw Jesus.
This simple act of taking, blessing and breaking bread opened their eyes because they had seen Jesus do this so many times before. When Jesus fed the multitudes it said he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave to the crowds. At the Passover meal Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his friends. Probably at every meal, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them – so when Jesus does this once again, the familiarity of the actions, the words, the phrases, maybe the smell of the bread finally brought things into focus and their eyes were opened. They were seeing Jesus.
We often see Jesus when we experience something that reminds of who he is, what he has done or what he has said. When my family saw the amazing beauty of the sunset I was reminded that Jesus has power over all of creation. He can walk on water and calm the storms so moving some clouds to allow the sun to shine through would be easy. So in that action – we saw Jesus. In moments of prayer with my friends I remember how Jesus prayed with his friends and how those prayers were simple and faithful, so when I heard them pray with simple faith I knew I was hearing Jesus. When we saw Mama Maggie Gorban walk on stage and knew that she was a wealthy accomplished woman who gave up everything to rescue children and families from the garbage dumps of Cairo, I remembered how Jesus, the accomplished all powerful son of God, gave up his life in heaven to come to this place and walk among the poor villages of Palestine in order to rescue and save the world. In her we could see Jesus.
So we see Jesus when we see or hear something that takes us back to who Jesus is and what he said and what he has done and if we are willing to open our hearts and minds we can see him. This week in times of prayer, reading God’s word, saying grace at a meal or serving those in our family or community we will have opportunities to see Jesus and sometimes all it takes is asking God to open our eyes so we can see him.
Now as soon as the disciples saw Jesus in the breaking of the bread, it says that Jesus disappeared and so the disciples ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others that they had also seen Jesus. So what they do is go from seeing Jesus to now being Jesus. Just like Jesus did a few hours earlier, they are now the ones sharing the good news of Jesus resurrection. They are sharing Jesus’ words and communicating his joy and passion so that others will also see and believe. What this tells us is that it is not enough for us to see Jesus, we also have to take that vision and start being Jesus so that the world can come to see him.
The call to be Jesus in this world was made by Jesus himself. He calls us to be salt and light which means sharing with the others the truth and love of God. Jesus calls us to take the love he has shared and given to us and find ways to share it with others. He calls us take to his word of forgiveness and hope and power to those living in shame, despair and weakness. We are also called to be the body of Christ. This doesn’t just mean we come together as one body or group of people but that together when people in the world look at us – when they encounter the church and all that we do that they are seeing Jesus.
So how and when and where can people see Jesus in us as a church and how can they see Jesus in us personally? It’s my hope that in a few weeks the people of Moore OK will see Jesus in us as we send a group of people to go and help rebuild people’s homes and lives. When we serve those in need Jesus said that we will see him in them, but they will also Jesus in us. I know there are people in Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi are seeing Jesus this Sunday as they receive support and love from Christians around them and around the nation.
We all got to see Jesus last week as we served people in our own community. People of Bellefonte could see Jesus weeding gardens, raking leaves, washing windows and cleaning gutters. The hands and feet of Jesus were out there and people could see it. People see Jesus every time we stop thinking about ourselves and starting thinking about what might be good for others. When we give our time, energy and money to the Faith Centre and food bank people see Jesus. When we wash cars for those who serve in the community, people see Jesus.
But it’s not just serving others that people can see Jesus in us, they can also see him and hear him when we come together to listen to and talk about God’s word. Think about how most people in Jesus day encountered him, it was through his teaching and preaching. Today people can see and hear Jesus in us when we come together to talk about the truth and relevance of God’s word. When we share what we know about the Bible and how we have seen it lived out in our hearts and lives then we are being Jesus in a way that helps others see him
We also have the opportunity to see Jesus every time we gather for worship. There is something about being together and having our hearts and minds focused on Jesus that helps us see him. We can see him in a song or in a prayer or in his word or in the presence of God’s people around us. Just like those disciples who ate with Jesus, we can also see Jesus when we break bread together in communion. The bread is the body of Christ and this cup holds the blood of Christ and so when we come to this table we can once again see Jesus – but then we have to allow this meal shape us so we can go out and be Jesus.
One of the things that we have to remember is that communion isn’t just a meal to feed us spiritually, it is a time for God to shape our lives. When we share in the bread we are saying is that we want our lives to look like Jesus who was willing to give himself for others. And when we share in the cup we are saying that we want our hearts and lives to be poured out so people will see Jesus in us. This meal needs to be a time of shaping and reordering of our lives so that when we leave here today people can see Jesus in us.
Seeing Jesus helps us be Jesus and being Jesus helps the world see Jesus and that is what our world needs today and every day – to see Jesus.
Seeing Jesus ~ Being Jesus
1. Document the times you have seen Jesus?
• In the lives of others
2. Where would you most like to see Jesus? Ask God for open eyes and an open heart to see Him there.
3. Like the disciples in Luke 24, share with others the times you have seen Jesus.
4. Pray that the people who have been devastated by tornadoes and floods this week see Jesus in the lives of others and the Church (the Body of Christ).
1. Where do you think you have been the presence of Jesus in the lives of others?
2. How can you “be Jesus” for someone this week?
3. Commit to praying for our Oklahoma Mission Team as they prepare to “be Jesus” on our behalf.