Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Manifestation of Christ

John 14:21-24

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

I want us to take some time and focus on this manifestation that is promised to all those who have and keep Jesus’ Word – the manifestation that is given only to those who love Christ and not to the world.

There are two simple questions:

What does it mean that Christ will manifest Himself to those that love Him?

What must we do in order for Christ to manifest Himself to us?

Let’s look at the first one:

What does it mean that Christ will manifest Himself to those that love Him?

This is a manifestation of Christ – a revealing of Christ that is special and given only to those who are Christ’s – not to the world – we see that in the question that Judas poses, it is not to the world – it is only to the ones who love Christ, and keep His commandments and be in God’s loving favor and to whom Christ will manifest Himself.

But what type of manifestation is it? Does it mean that Jesus will come in person, in the flesh and visit these chosen ones?

It is not that Christ will come in person – for He no longer lives among us. He no longer says what He said to Doubting Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." (John 20:27)

For in that same passage it is clear that there are those who will not have the benefit of sight or touch and we are blessed for it, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29). Beyond that, we know that while Jesus was on the earth, many saw Him who did not love Him – in fact the ones who killed Him saw Him – therefore this manifestation that Jesus is talking about is not one of Him coming in the flesh, face to face – but something else.

If not in the flesh – what of visions and dreams? It is clear that this manifestation is not one of mere dreams or visions. For we know that even those who do not love God at times receive visions and dreams from God. Laban was warned by God in a dream not to say anything good or bad to his nephew Jacob (Gen. 3:24) – and yet there is no indication that He even was trying to follow God, quite the opposite – it seems that he was consumed by greed and did everything he could to gain the upper-hand. Another, even more clear example is that of Balaam. God came and spoke with Balaam (Num. 22:9), and yet we know he was, “a man who loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Pet. 2:15) and, “one who practiced divination” (Jos. 13:22). Visions and dreams, while, extraordinary are not exclusive to believers – but when God wills, are given to the unbeliever. Therefore visions and dreams cannot be the manifestation spoken of by Jesus in this passage, for this manifestation is exclusive – given only to those who love Christ.

I believe this manifestation is one that is given in the heart of those who love Christ. For seeing Jesus with your physical eyes, or having a dream, vision or hearing the voice of God do not necessarily change you – for many saw Jesus, many have had dreams, many have heard the voice of God – and yet they still remain in darkness – many are in hell who have had those privileges.

But there is a manifestation of Christ that is special, and given only to those who believe.

I read of a man who lived in the late 1800’s named Mr. Tennant. One evening he was about to go to a small church to preach but thought he would take a short walk in the woods before he headed over. As he walked along in the woods he felt the overwhelming power of the presence of Christ, so much so that he knelt down. The time came for him to preach at the church and when he didn’t show up some of the church members in the small town went looking for him. They did not find him until a few hours later, and when they did find him – he looked like a man who had been with Jesus – his face shining with joy. Mr. Tennant said, even to his dying day, that he should never forget that communion he had with Christ – for though he could not see Christ, Christ was there, in fellowship with him, heart to heart in such a sweet way.

What a wonderful thing fellowship with Christ is in our hearts when we love Him. And you must know something of it, if you do in fact love Him.

It is a manifestation as the one Job experienced – Though there is no indication that Job saw God with his physical eyes – he says in Job 42

Job 42:5

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;

This “sight” is unexplainable to the unregenerate – to those who are yet dead in their sins. Trying to explain it is as trying to explain what a rainbow looks like to a blind man. And yet, all who have seen and experienced the rainbow themselves can easily talk to each other and relate to one another for they have experienced the same manifestation.

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

In what other ways is this manifestation unique and separate from other manifestations? It is unique in that it since it is a manifestation to the heart it changes the one who has received it. It produces humility. If someone says, “I have had such high communion with God – I am a great man!” that person has never had any communion with God at all. For God does not come close to the proud, He does not reveal Himself to them,

Psalms 138:6

“Though the LORD is exalted, He takes note of the humble; but He knows the haughty [or the proud] from afar.”

It produce holiness in the life of the recipient. A person who is not holy has never taken part in this special manifestation. Some people talk a lot about their experiences and their enlightenment – but do not believe them unless their lives mirror what they say. God is not mocked – He will not show favor to the wicked – He will not respect and evil doer.

This manifestation causes us to see the surpassing beauty and glory of Christ – causing us to lay aside all else, so as to better take in the beauty of Christ – it causes us to lay down all hindrances all sins that entangle, so that we can just behold Him.

So we see that this manifestation is special – given only to those who love Christ and that it is a inward manifestation – heart to heart.

But what must we do in order for Christ to manifest Himself to us?

The answer is quite simple – if you desire Christ to manifest Himself to you, you must love Him.

Christ asked Peter, after being raised from the dead, “Do you love me”.

What is your answer? Do you love Christ?

If you do not, than these verses and the privileges that are contained in them are not for you.

Do you love Christ? Do not just gloss over this question – but seek to answer honestly in your heart before the Lord. It is not enough to say you Love Christ – for some make their profession loudly, and yet they are hypocrites for their conduct tells everyone that in fact they are haters of Christ. Do you love Jesus with your whole heart?

If there is any question in your mind – do not pass over this question – but seek until you have a definite answer.

But remember this – if you do love Him, he loved you first.

John 17:6

"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

All those who belong to Christ keep God’s Word – all who belong to Christ love Him.

But He loved you first for He knew you were His before even the world was created. You were created to be His, you were created for Him.

Before time began you were loved by him. Even though you are a sinner, though you were an enemy and a worker of evil – He loved and still loves you. And think of Christ – who stripped Himself of all His glory, descended from a throne of infinite glory to a manger made to feed animals – will you not love Him who became flesh for you? He lived a life of poverty – no where to lay His head, a life of rejection, for even His own countrymen did not receive Him – a life of pain, for He bore all ours – a life of dishonor, for the world hated Him.

Think of the tears He cried in the garden – will you not love Him whose tears fell to the ground like blood, and who groaned, pleading with God in His final hour? What of the blood that flowed as they beat Him and whipped Him – tearing and cutting into His flesh. What of the jeering of the crowds as they mocked Him while He hung on the cross. Do you see Him suffer? Do you see Him hanging on the cross – and all this for you?

Do you love Him? He loved you first.

Beyond his death – Now He is risen, and He is in heaven with the Father – and there what is He doing? He pleads your case before the throne, He is preparing a place there in heaven for you – and He will come again a second time, to take you with Him.

Think on all these things and love Him! Love Him with all that you are.

Do you love Christ?

Do you know and keep His Word? That really is the same question – for all who love Him keep His Word and all who keep His Word love Him.

Do you treasure His Word? Are His words worth more than gold? Do you treasure His Word above all earthly things?

Do you try and know His Word – do you diligently study – searching the Scriptures – is His Word your daily bread? Do you live by it?

Is your life different from the world? Are you like Christ? Do you live as He lived?

Do you seek to keep His word in your hearts?

To keep means to obey. Obedience flows from the heart. In every Christian there is an passionate, and steady longing to do what God wants – to walk as He tells us to walk in His Word. Some might have this longing stronger than others, but it is there!

Think of Peter – He denied Christ – and not just denied Him once, but three times. Not with a sword to his throat, but to the question of a servant girl!

Christ is risen, and He meets the disciples on the beach – let’s read it together: John 21:1

John 21:1-17

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.
Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No."
He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.
Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.
This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Three times Peter answers, but the last time there is something different about his plea.

Each time before Peter said, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

But the third time – he says, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

When I read some of the passages in the Psalms that say things like, “Search me O God and know my heart…see if there be any grievous way in me…test my heart and my mind…I walk in faithfulness” I quiver – Do I really want God to look into my heart? There is so much evil there! I am so far from perfect!

But listen to what Peter says – listen to how he pleads with Christ

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

It is as if Peter is saying, “I know my denial of you contradicts me love; my fellow-disciples have good reason to wonder if I really do love you. But you know my heart, you know that I do love you and that I desire to do what you command with all of my heart!”

He pleads before Christ – “Look into my heart, though there is sin there, though I am imperfect, look to my heart, for deep down my whole being groans within me with longing to do Your will”

When we love Christ – there is sorrow when we disobey. When we know that we have grieved Christ – we can not help but mourn as Peter did. But following that sorrow, there will be repentance and earnest pleading with God for the grace to enable us to do what He has asked us to do. There will be a pleading from the bottom of our heart – “Lord! You know that I love you!”

Do you desire for Christ to show Himself to you? Then love Him – do what He has commanded – and by the Grace of God, though you fail, He will manifest Himself to you.

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