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Come and See!

Come and see! Come and see!

An excited (ok, extremely excited) voice calls out. Something new has been discovered by the voice, or perhaps something old has been seen in an entirely different way and has captured their heart and their imagination. Something monumental and previously thought to be impossible has been accomplished.

Whatever it is, you can be sure it is absolutely wonderful and that it’s an experience that just has to be shared. And so the voice rings out, “Come and see! Come and see!”

Our response is absolutely critical to the voice. What will it be?
Not now, I’m really busy.
In a minute.
See what?
Maybe later.
Just a second.
As soon as I finish this.

Do you remember a time when the voice was a child’s? Did you see or hear the whoosh of enthusiasm disappearing as you burst their balloon of excitement with your pin of indifference?

No go back and re-read this, imagining that the voice is God’s. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the same whoosh of enthusiasm disappearing. Look carefully, and you’ll see the disappointment of a joyous gift missed.

God is constantly calling to us. He desires to share so much with us. The wonder of creation, the light in a human spirit, the tenderness of love. Miracles abound. We miss them because we don’t come when He calls.

Come and see! Come and see! Come and see what God is doing!

Come and see! Come and see! The tomb is empty! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Come and see!

Before Christmas

“Father, it’s a breathtaking galaxy You’ve designed and created, but I feel it’s not yet complete.  Something’s missing.”

“Yes, I know exactly what You mean, and I have an idea.”

There is silence as the plan unfolds before Him.  Father closely watches the Son’s reaction, occasionally looking up to see the Spirit’s expression.  Jesus’ face is like a kaleidoscope – amazement, wonder, joy, deep sorrow.  In the Spirit’s face He sees total acceptance and notices that He now looks to Jesus for His response.  Spirit is already interceding, already strengthening and helping.

Jesus takes a deep breath.  “I only have one question – why?”

Father looks intently into the face He loves, and replies with a single word.  “Love”.

Jesus takes a deeper breath.  “Father, it’s a beautiful planet You’ve designed and created, and the animals are wonderful, but are You sure about creating people?  I realize they are in Our image and they certainly start out well, and some are very promising, but…”

Father doesn’t answer right away.  He continues to watch the kaleidoscope before Him.  After a while, He gently and quietly whispers, “but?”

“But the people are flawed and everything You’ve designed and created is perfect.  I can see the possibilities for great joy and fellowship, but You know there will be conflict with Satan.  He will hurt them.  Satan has already brought You great pain.  The people will cause You even more.  Are You absolutely certain about the people?”

“We have so much beauty in the universe We have created.  We should share it.  We have more than enough love within Us to be able to bear the pain.”

“Yes, but We are holy and these people…  There would always be a barrier between us.”  Jesus looks intently into the face of His Father.  “Couldn’t we do something to remove it so the relationship would be as perfect as the rest of creation?”

God returns the intense gaze for the longest time.  His face is not a kaleidoscope, but it clearly shows He is weighing a matter.  Very quietly He replies, “Yes, My Son, there is something We could do.”

The Father lays out the plan.  The Spirit audibly sucks in a startled breath and returns to watching the Son and praying.  The Son looks into His Father’s face.  “Incredible!”  The Father waits.

“An embryo?  I would become an embryo in an unwed mother?  A baby?  I would be a baby and have to learn everything I already know?   I would be a toddler who learns to walk, a child who learns to obey, a teenager who learns to relate to people, a carpenter who earns a living, a teacher they don’t understand, a Savior they don’t want?  I would have to leave You and perfection for more than thirty years?  The betrayal, rejection, scourging, crucifixion?  The resurrection.

“Will it be hard?”

“Yes, my Son, it will.  You will need to be truly one of them in order to bridge the gap between us.  You will need to struggle as they do, to experience everything they experience, every joy, every sorrow, every anguish.  But We will help You and strengthen You.

Jesus returns to deep thought.  After a long pause, He murmurs, “It is the best way.”  He looks up again.  “But Father, so few will believe, so many will reject Us.  Are You absolutely certain?”

“Everyone will be able to choose whether or not to believe.  Everyone will have the opportunity for perfect love and relationship.  We have more than enough love for all.  I’m certain.  It’s up to You, Son.  Are You willing?”

Once again, the Spirit holds His breath.

Jesus’ smile is bittersweet.  “I will miss Our oneness, but yes, I’m willing.”

“I’m proud of You, Son.”

“Father, how long will they have to wait for Me to come?  How long will it be until My return?”

“Don’t worry, my Child, the timing will be perfect.”

 

Doubting Thomas?

Thomas was chosen by Jesus to be one of His disciples.  He was also known as Didymus (the Twin).  Apparently his twin was not of the same spiritual fabric and wasn’t chosen to be a disciple. 

Thomas is best known as doubting Thomas because of the events just after the resurrection.  For some reason, Thomas wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them (John 20:19-24).  The disciples excitedly tell Thomas about Jesus’ appearance, but in reply, he utters the words that made him forever famous:  “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (John 20:36).  At that moment he’s christened Doubting Thomas.  But is he really?

The eleven were hiding in the upper room on Resurrection morning.  The women came and told each and every one of them that Jesus was alive, but none of them believe (Mark 16:11).  John and Peter have to see the empty tomb for themselves.  John sees and believes, but Peter marvels and wonders (Luke 24:12), not necessarily believing.  Not until Jesus appears and eats something do the other nine believe.  (Judas Iscariot is dead, John believed at the empty tomb, Thomas is absent.)

The disciples tell Thomas what they have experienced, but it’s not good enough for him.  I don’t think it was simply doubt. 

Thomas was apparently a deep thinker.  Look at John 14:5.  Jesus is in the midst of His last conversation with His disciples.  To comfort them, He tells them He’s going to prepare a place for them.  Their minds haven’t been opened by the Holy Spirit yet, so Thomas asks the question no one else dares to.  “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?”  He wasn’t just listening, he was absorbing and trying desperately to understand. 

Look at John 11:16.  Lazarus has died.  Jesus is going there – right into the heart of enemy territory.  Jesus has repeatedly told His disciples that He would be betrayed, be crucified and rise again on the third day.  Thomas is the only one who gets step two (and perhaps step one in not wanting to abandon Him).  “Let us go also, that we may die with Him.”

If Thomas got that part, perhaps he also understood Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:4-5.  “See to it that no one misleads you.  For many will come in My name, saying. ‘I am the Christ’, and will mislead many”.  He must have known Proverbs 14:15-16 as well.  “The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.  A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil.”

I admit there was doubt in Thomas, but perhaps not as much as we blame him for.  Perhaps Thomas was just making sure that no one, not even his fellow disciples, was going to mislead him. 

The Lamb of God

There He stands before me; patiently, lovingly waiting. I have followed Him for many years. But the Father wants me to go deeper. So now Jesus awaits my approach.

According to the Law, I am to lay my hand upon the head of the sacrifice offered to atone for my sin (Leviticus 1:4). This is the Son of God I approach. I have come to know Him and love Him (as much as a finite human mind and heart can come to know and love an infinite, unfathomable Being). I approach tentatively, partly because of who Jesus is, mostly because I know what I am and what I’m supposed to do.

I have no problem in admitting I’m a sinner in need of a sacrifice, but the closer I come, the more of my sin I see. I have tried to not sin, but I fail miserably at times with my harsh tongue and even harsher thoughts. When I see someone else’s sin, deep down a part of me knows I could do the same and worse without much prompting.

Another struggle erupts within me. I have always fought to save innocent life, from the teenage couple considering an abortion, to the butterfly trapped in a puddle. Jesus is so innocent, so perfect. I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve also known the pain of being unjustly accused and suffering for someone else’s mistakes. I don’t see how I can reach out and put my hand on the head of one I have come to love, knowing the agony He will suffer because of me and my sin. On the other hand, my selfish, sinful self doesn’t want to die the horrible death that awaits Jesus. Part of me knows that I would reach out my hand in a heartbeat to avoid that death and let Someone else do it for me. What a wretched soul I am!

The closer I come, the harder I cry. I’m drawn to His kind, gentle loving face, but I’m repulsed by the ugly sin and conflict within me and I keep looking away. Then I hear His quiet voice, “You are the butterfly trapped in a puddle.” I gasp sharply and look up. Our eyes meet. I hear familiar words, like the ones spoken to John the Baptist at His baptism. “Let it be so now. Let us fulfill the Law, for this is why I came.”

The love in His eyes and the tenderness in His voice draw my trembling hand up to the top of His head. I rest it there a moment, and then gently draw it down to the side of His face. I whisper, “I’m so very sorry.”