Jesus appeared to me, nearly forty-five years ago. Once I invited Him in, the tangible expression of God to my twenty-one year old heart, continued unabated for months. To “appear” is to come into sight; be obvious and clear. My new found clarity was facilitated through a co-worker, who emanated what I now know to be the “fragrance of Christ.” It was a classic silent witness of the gospel. Words came later, backed up by the character I had observed in my now lifelong friend, Ronnie. God’s arrows were finding the bull’s eye of my desperate heart.
Seeing the Evidence
I was recently pondering the appearances of the resurrected Christ to his disciples. Peter and John were the first to see inside the tomb. John looked in, while Peter entered in. Seeing the evidence was enough for John. Jn. 20:8 The strips of linen and the head cloth were not unwrapped from Jesus, like they were with Lazarus. This was different, and proof positive of what Jesus had told them would happen. Still in formation, was the framework of Scripture that would encase their new experience. Jn. 20:9 If only we could mix our abundance of current Bible study resources with the first hand experience of those early disciples! Or is that what we actually ARE doing?
The Emmaus Road story tells of two disciples discussing the recent events of the crucifixion, when Jesus joined them on their walk. Not recognizing who he was, plus Jesus feigning not to know about their topic, led to their giving him an account of the recent news. After awhile, Jesus broke in with some Biblical exegesis. “’How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Lk. 24:25-27 No recognition yet, but their hearts were burning.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Lk. 24:30-32 The great news, is that we have a faithful journey mate who loves to fellowship with us, evident when Jesus appeared again a few decades later. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Rev. 3:20
On the Beach
As I compose this blog, I am participating in a season of fasting here in our church body. Strange how mention of food in the Bible draws my attention! When Jesus appeared to several disciples on Galilee’s beach, He had a meal prepared for them; cooked fish and bread. Jesus said to them, “’Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Jn. 21:12-13 Following the meal, there was an intense time of ministry to Peter, and Jesus inviting Peter on a walk, followed by John. Jesus would have a future visit with John, in a setting not quite as comfortable as the beach on Galilee.
Patmos was like an Alcatraz Island in the Roman Empire, with most prisoners doing forced labor in the rock quarries. After sixty years of ministry, the Apostle John most likely assumed that his current role as an inmate was the final chapter. I think we’ve all had to traverse at least a few “long curves” on the journey, wondering when, and if, the road will straighten again. “I, John, am your brother and companion in tribulation, the kingdom, and the patience that are found in Jesus. I was exiled on the island of Patmos because of the ministry of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit realm on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice sounding like a trumpet, saying to me: Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches.” Rev. 1:9-11 (TPT) Everyone occasionally lands on a “Patmos” of sorts. Never by choice, but by suffering tribulation. The deepest revelations are mined here.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, his heart was heavy and he had a sobering word for the Jewish people. “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Lk. 19:43-44 History tells the fulfillment of those words – Roman armies destroyed the city in 70 A.D. But there is a very clear inference, that perhaps it could have been averted. The enemy will always attempt to construct embankments against us. The battle turns on our level of recognition.
Grace to you today – to discern God’s visitation, to perceive His appearing.