“We know where this man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from” (verse 27).
How often we mistake God when He comes to us!
The Gospels contain a litany of mistaken attitudes towards Jesus Christ.
Some who followed Jesus turn back. I guess you could say they repented from following Him. Things get too tough or too confusing (such as Jesus’ teaching about the Bread of Life).
Some who followed Jesus shrivel up over the years. Their relationship with God decays day by day until He has evaporated from their life.
Some treat Him with contempt because they do not recognize who He truly is. They cannot believe that the One before them is in fact God.
Some, of course, see Christ for who He is, a threat to their own rule and kingdom, and they hate Him.
Some are intrigued because they’ve seen something interesting. But they may be interested for the wrong reasons.
Some entertain a variety of ideas about Him, never wanting to have to make that fatal, final decision about Who He Is.
Each of these is an attitude we, today, might also wrongly embrace. If you’re reading this devotional, then you have most likely embraced a more faithful attitude towards Christ.
But not perfectly.
You, like me, are probably all too aware of the subtle ways in which God comes to you each day and in which you ignore Him, perhaps the most common attitude we have toward the presence of God.
Many of the Jews of Jesus’ day rejected Him precisely because He was too familiar. How could Jesus be anyone special, much less the Messiah, when we know where he comes from? Everyone knows he’s Joseph the carpenter’s son. Everyone knows He comes from Nazareth and that nothing good can come from Nazareth. After all, those Galileans are nothing but a bunch of uncultured hicks!
Aren’t we like this more than we care to admit? How many times each day do you think God is present in your life and you don’t recognize Him? Like the Jews of the first century, we have very specific requirements for our own personal Jesus.
I once wrote an essay on what I’d like in a future spouse. Along with all of the truly essential things I desired in my wife (such as her love of the Lord) I included such factors as that she be sufficiently attractive, well-educated, willing to live on a teacher’s income, a Calvinist, a supralapsarian, like Three Stooges, and be willing to eat blue pancakes and green and pink cakes and listen to the Blues Magoos and Thirteenth Floor Elevators. I figured by the time I met someone who had all of these qualifications I would have virtually eliminated any possibilities at all.
How many times will Jesus come to you today, and you won’t recognize Him? I believe that God is with His people all day every day and that He comes to us in many ways and at many times.
He comes in the very situation we find ourselves. Where are you living, with whom, doing what, and for what purpose? He’s there in all of that. Even when you think you’ve made a mistake in where your life is at, He’s still there, waiting to minister to you. But we believe that we got here by accident or by our own wisdom and special awesomeness.
He comes in the people you meet every day, ready to bless every word of every conversation, and ready to speak to you through parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees. He even speaks through the donkeys of your life, if you listen closely enough!
He’s there in your suffering and pain, and He’s there in your fatigue and confusion. In fact, He either speaks more loudly at such times or I’m listening more attentively, because it’s at these times that I often Him.
He’s there in you wonder and joy, and He’s there in the noise and the silence. He’s there in your labor and your leisure, and He’s there in your room before you even wake up and after you fall asleep.
But these are all common and lowly things. We think we know Christ and that when He comes He’ll come with trumpet voluntaries and shouts of angelic acclamation.
But what if He’s already come, but He comes in these humble forms?
Open your eyes and unstuff your ears and go and find your Lord where He may be found today. Behold: He is here!
Prayer: My Lord, help me to see You in all of the ways You come to me today. Teach me not to despise any of the forms in which You come to me as being too common, humble, or ordinary. Wake me with Your presence in the morning and tuck me into bed when I sleep. Labor with me in my work today, and cause my leisure today to lead to thanksgiving. Speak to me through the people You have ordained for me to meet today, and speak even through this donkey of a servant which is myself. In better and worse, in sickness and health, and in richness and poverty reveal Yourself to me that I may receive whatever blessing You have chosen for me today. Through Your Son and by Your Spirit, Amen.
Points for Meditation:
1. What are some humble ways in which Jesus may come to you each day without you recognizing Him.
2. How might you be more prepared each day to meet God whenever He comes to you?
Resolution: I resolve to prepare to see and meet You today in 2 specific ways today.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson