Jesus said to his disciples, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
(Opening a bag of Cheetos and starts looking inside, shaking the bag to shift the Cheetos around)
What am I doing? Why, I’m looking for Jesus, of course! Isn’t everyone?
Well, sure, most people wouldn’t expect to find Jesus in a bag of Cheetos! But just recently a youth group minister in
For centuries, people have claimed to see images of Jesus in all sorts of ordinary objects.
In 2005, people in
In the same year, a man in
Another Ebay member claimed miraculous intervention occurred in his life because the face of Jesus appeared on his grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
As entertaining as all this is, I don’t think that it is at all what Jesus meant when he said that he would reveal himself to those who love him and keep his commandments.
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus tells the disciples that he will be leaving them and the world will see him no longer. But because the disciples believe in him, they will see him. But the world will not see him, because they do not believe. While most of us have heard the phrase “seeing is believing” in this case, it should be “believing is seeing.”
Jesus outlines the steps for moving from believing to seeing. First, you love Jesus and you keep his commandments. Then Jesus will send you an Advocate, which is the Holy Spirit or the spirit of truth. And when the spirit of truth dwells with you, Jesus will reveal himself to you.
If that seems a little complicated, you are not alone. Wouldn’t it have been easier for God to just show up one day and say, “Here I am…now you know that I exist and you don’t have to worry about it any more”? My guess is that God is all too aware of how the human mind works. Josh McDowell, Christian apologist, explains it this way in his book Answers to Tough Questions:
“People refuse to believe that which they don’t want to believe, in spite of evidence. When explorers first went to
Upon their return to
God knows that there will always be people who do not want to believe that he exists, in spite of evidence to the contrary. There are many examples in biblical history of this. God lead the people of
In the book of Deuteronomy, God speaks to the Israelites through Moses saying:
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.”
Obviously, God is aware of our tendency to deny him in spite of evidence to the contrary. And this problem grows worse as we grow older, which is why Jesus said that in order to come to him, we needed the faith of a child. The older we get, the more we think we know. The more we think we know, the harder it is to take that leap of faith that is required to pass from believing into seeing. So how do we do this?
Alexander Maclaren was a famous 19th century Baptist preacher. He wrote:
“Important lessons are given by this alternation of the two ideas of faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience. Disobedience is the root of unbelief. Unbelief is the mother of further disobedience. Faith is voluntary submission within a person’s own power. If faith is not exercised, the true cause lies deeper than all intellectual reasons. It lies in the moral aversion of human will and in the pride of independence, which says, “who is Lord over us? Why should we have to depend on Jesus Christ?” As faith is obedience and submission, so faith breeds obedience, but unbelief leads on to higher-handed rebellion. With dreadful reciprocity of influence, the less one trusts, the more he disobeys; the more he disobeys, the less he trusts. “
As you come to know Jesus, as the Holy Spirit guides you to a deeper relationship with him, you probably will not see Jesus physically. In fact, I think that many people waste a lot of time trying to see Jesus physically, when instead they should be seeking him elsewhere. Have you ever noticed that none of the authors of the gospels ever described Jesus physically? We don’t know what he looked like, simply because what he looked like was not important. It was the spirit of God manifested in Jesus that was the important thing. So if we aren’t looking for the image of Jesus, how can we see Jesus these days?
The key actually lies in the reading today. Jesus says, “keep my commandments”, which surely refers to the admonition to love one another. After all, Jesus told us that the greatest of all the commandments is to “love God with all your heart and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.” By loving our neighbor as ourselves, we will see Jesus.
No one epitomized the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves better than Mother Teresa of
She also said, “If now we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten how to see God in one another. If each person saw God in his neighbor, do you think we would need guns and bombs?”
So let’s look around and see Jesus. He may be in the person in the next pew, in the driver in the car beside ours on the freeway, in the waitress taking our order at the restaurant we visit, in the nurse taking our blood pressure at the doctor’s office or in the homeless person just looking for a warm place to sleep. Sure beats looking for him in a bag of Cheetos, doesn’t it?