Mine eyes have seen the glory: A blog by Daniel Jones

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Growing up as a pastor’s son, I can remember sitting in a pew on countless Sunday mornings, listening to my dad preach. But out of all those sermons, out of every passage that came from the pulpit for the morning message, there was one sentence that commanded my attention like none other.  There was no part of Scripture that was so chilling, so mindboggling terrifying then the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21-23. The passage reads: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” It’s pretty easy to see why the sentence “I never knew you,” coming from the mouth of Jesus made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Honestly, what could be more frightening? The image has always been so disconcerting: a person who thought they were a believer meeting the Son of God face to face and looking Him in the eye and hearing Jesus say in effect, “Do I know you?” As a Christian what could be more sobering then that? But there is another possibility that I hadn’t considered that Christians face. It may sound silly, but what if, rather than Jesus not recognizing us, we didn’t recognize Him? What if a believer stood face to face and looked God in the eye, but didn’t know Him? The idea seems impossible, and admittedly I hadn’t even considered it until I read John 14. But in reality it did happen. In fact, it not only happened to a follower of Christ, but to one of the twelve disciples! The Lord’s Supper had already been served. Jesus had already washed the disciples’ feet in the ultimate act of servant-hood. Judas had already ventured out into the night to sell out Jesus in the ultimate act of betrayal. Jesus had just laid out his plan, predicting He would come back and take the disciples to heaven.  The words of Jesus, confirming the disciples knew the Father had JUST left Jesus’ mouth. And then Philip pipes up. “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered him by saying “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say ‘Show us the Father’?” Jesus had lived a life of 33 years. For the last three years, Jesus had been active in His ministry and teaching the disciples. And just then, Philip wants to see God. Jesus looked at Philip and said, “Don’t you know me?” The trouble wasn’t that Philip hadn’t seen Jesus; it was that he didn’t recognize Jesus for who He truly is. He saw miracle upon miracle, sat by Jesus’ feet and heard the words of the Almighty God, but it didn’t all add up for him quite yet. He didn’t realize how each of these instances demonstrated the person of God the Father. If it happened to Philip, it can happen to us. In the same way, we often “see” God moving but we don’t recognize it at the time. It’s difficult to be cognizant of the spiritual war going on around us, especially when things can seem so difficult or drawn- out at the time. The title of this blog takes its name from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The words were scrawled out during the darkest period in American history. Civil war had turned the country inside out, and violence and bloodshed were everywhere. As the song says, Christians took up arms to “die to make men free.” But amidst the pain; amidst the grisly realization of W.T. Sherman’s statement, “War is hell,” a woman by the name of Julia Ward Howe was able to pen these words in the song’s opening line: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The blog posts to follow will be centered on this theme. Through a weekly message of encouragement and exhortation, I hope that you can be reminded of who Jesus really is, even in the most unlikely of settings. I hope that these blogs help you to see how He will come “like the glory of the morning on the wave.” And maybe next time we see Jesus, whether in a church service or in a less expected place, we might recognize Jesus and truly “know Him when we see Him.”
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