Seeing Jesus

The issue is not physical sight or intellect, but that of our blindness to Jesus’ value.

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A sermon preached on 1 Peter 1:8-12

The Beauty of Faith

A well-known atheist and author, Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion), was interviewed by CNN about his views on science and religion.  He was asked the question, “If you were to die and meet God, what would you say to him?”

  • Dawkins says this, “Which god are you? Are you Zeus, Mithras, or Yahweh? And why did you take such great pains to conceal yourself?”

I think some of us have maybe heard the remark that if God would show himself to me, I would believe him, or convert to him, etc.  It almost seems like Dawkins is saying something like that.

  • If you didn’t hide yourself, it would have been easier or clearer for us to believe you and trust you.
    • Friends, this is the argument that we so often throw towards God – that he has not done enough, that it is his fault, and that what he has done is insufficient.

 Transition: But we can’t see Jesus physically today, so now what?

Seeing Jesus

If you have read the New Testament you will soon see that the people Jesus was around, though they saw him perform miracles and speak, still did not believe him.

  • In John 12 a day after Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead (and he did!), that same crowd John tells us followed Jesus – and John comments this about the crowd, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him.” (v.37)

We could go to Judas who knew Jesus intimately and betrayed him, we could go to Matthew 28 where Jesus gives his final words to his disciples where some still doubted him, or we could go to James, Jesus’ brother, who ate, grew up with, and bunked in the same room as Jesus yet he doubted and did not believe until he met the resurrected Christ.

  • The issue is not physical sight or intellect, but that of our blindness to Jesus’ value due to our love and desire for the darkness of sin and rebellion.
    • Our hearts do not shake in awe of his power, we do not explode with worship at his wrath-absorbing death, and we do not fall in love with his breath-taking humility by God becoming man.

In verse 8, Peter tells these suffering Christians that though they have not seen Jesus (as Peter has!), they love him.  We covered in verse 7 that God designs trials and suffering to build and strengthen our faith – and now we see a piece of that.

  • We do not see Jesus physically, and neither did these suffering Christians, but they loved Jesus.
    • We have not seen Jesus as Peter did, but God has granted to us the ability to see Jesus better than those who physically saw Jesus but didn’t see him.

Friends, God appeared on the earth as a man – Jesus Christ – he claimed to be God, he raised the dead, cast out demons, controlled the weather and diseases, and performed many other miracles.

Thousands and thousands of people saw him, heard about him in the area; thousands ran to him, were witnesses to his miracles – some were neighbors of the people Jesus raised from the dead, some were partakers in his miracles, many of them traveled miles and miles just to see or be touched by him.  Many believed in his name, but also many did not.

  • Though they saw him, they did not love him.
    • Their hearts were darkened, they loved what Jesus could offer but not who he was.
    • They valued his works, but not his supremacy.
  • If you are a lover of Christ and have been changed by the work of his Spirit – it is because God has been merciful to you.
    • According to his great mercy, he caused you to be born again to love and see Jesus though you do not see him in the flesh.

Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ closest disciples who saw and experienced things that nobody else would see or understand – but God has inspired those writers to give us the glimpses that they saw!  God has been amazingly gracious to us!

Also in verse 8, Peter says that without seeing him we also believe in him.  Christian, you have a trust in Christ that is unshakeable because it has granted to you by God.

  • God has opened the eyes of your heart to love Jesus, not just what he offers.
    • He has given you a heart to love him, not just love what he can do.

Seeing and trusting Jesus is not something that happens at random or at the ‘luck of the draw.’  We can read the parable of the seed sower where the seed (the gospel) is cast to different types of soils (human hearts).  In 3 of the 4 soils, the seed grows quickly or poorly, and then dies.

  • But the last soil, receives the seed of the gospel – it roots into the soil, grows, and produces fruit.
    • This is not the luck of the draw or because of the person’s qualities they possess.
      • This is by the pure, free grace and mercy of God to change and till the soil of our hearts.
    • The Spirit of God caused your heart to see and love him, though you do not see him.

Transition:  Do you see the value of Jesus?  Do you love and trust him?  If so, how then should you live?

Inexpressible Joy, Full of Glory

All of us find great joy and praise things we love – and all of do what all people naturally do: the higher the value, the higher the joy and praise we give due.  Let me explain:

  • Let’s say you love baseball and you got free tickets to the local miner league team here, the Southern Illinois Miners.
    • They are in the Frontier league which means they have zero involvement with the MLB or Minor league teams.
      • You would be fairly happy to see them play I’m sure, it’s fun!
    • But what if you got free tickets to see Game 7 of the World Series?
      • You would be outstandingly (hopefully) happy and your praise would be exploding moment by moment leading up to this game.

What changed?  The intensity, or weight, of the object – both free tickets, but different worth.

In verse 8, Peter tells us that our response from seeing Jesus’ worth and loving him should cause us to rejoice in ‘inexpressible joy filled with glory.’

  • Do rejoice in Jesus in inexpressible joy over your version of Game 7 seats?
  • Is there a praising in your life of who Jesus is and what he has done for you, more than receiving your version of free playoff series tickets?

In Philippians, Paul tells us this, “I count everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…to depart and be with Christ is far better.” (3:7; 2:21)

  • I am not saying that enjoying things highly is wrong, nor am I a joyless person when it comes to free playoff tickets, beautiful landscapes, or great singing voices – but what I am saying is that we – though we have had our eyes opened to Jesus’ worth now – still do not see him for who he is.
    • And if you are in Christ, you will spend an eternity discovering the infinite beauties and joys of your treasure whom you have longed to see and have!
      • It will forever be glorious, increasing in beauty, and inexpressible gladness and praise to the infinite power!
    • Take heart, you are forgiven for dismissing his loveliness, but rejoice in that you will spend an eternity searching and discovering the beauty and worth of our King Jesus.

Transition: And that is where Peter takes us next, the reward of our faith in Christ!

 The Wages of Faith is Life

In Romans 6:23 we read this, “The wages of sin is death…”

  • For your sin, you have earned, you have obtained the outcome of your willful rebellion to God and his Son – God’s justice in hell for eternity.

God is good, and because he is infinitely good he immensely opposes evil – the bible actually says the word hates and abhors.  The justice of God who come swiftly upon those who have raped, those who have sexually abused children; he will perfectly punish those who have committed school shootings, kidnappers, and those who have performed numerous, violent abortions on women.

  • But God’s justice goes further because he is perfectly just and infinitely good – it goes to those who have sexually sinned in will, and in their hearts who think they get away with it.
  • He also gets us who have not murdered but have called someone an idiot in the anger of our hearts.
  • He goes perfectly just and draws the line at perfection: all liars, those who have stolen, he will take the swindlers into account – all who have not loved their neighbor as themselves or who have not loved God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
    • The perfect justice of God should cause you to tremble when you see your far imperfections and shortcomings of God’s perfect standard.

In verse 9, Peter says that the outcome of our faith is the ‘salvation of our souls.’  The wages of sin is death, but here Peter tells us that the wages of faith is life.

  • Picture these suffering Christians under the cruel dictatorship and rule of Nero.
    • Their friends are being burned alive, fed to lions, torn in half, burned alive in oil, and beheaded – yet they are rejoicing with joy that is inexpressible, filled with praise towards God.
      • Why? Because the outcome and reward of their faith is eternal life.
        • The intensity of the value of Jesus is immensely worth it.

As a Christian, you’re position in Christ is that you are saved in Christ – provided that you endure to the end and cling to Jesus.  You are saved and being saved, and will be saved.

  • If the outcome far and greatly outweighs the means, isn’t it worth it?
    • Do you believe that to die is gain?
    • What does it profit you to gain all that the world has to offer – yet forfeit your eternity for a handful of decades filled with frustrations, sickness, and some money to show for it?

Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of the apostle John in the second century, who was as history has it, converted at the church in Ephesus.  He never made a dent in history until the days leading up to his martyrdom where he wrote letters to encourage the churches; he wrote this weeks before his death by wild beasts in Rome:

“May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me. I pray that they would be found eager to rush at me, and I will also entice them to devour me speedily and not deal with me as some, whom out of fear they have not touched. If they are unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me; I know what is to my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. Let no one, of things visible or invisible, prevent me from attaining to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocation of bones; let cutting off of limbs; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the evil torments of the devil come upon me; only let me attain to Jesus Christ.”

  • To die is gain, to be with Christ is far better, we suffer only for a little while, our pains are only momentary – but we all must follow the course of our Master.
    • Thorns before the throne, suffering before safety, pain before fame.

Transition: this salvation began even before Jesus descended to the Earth.  This has been God’s design before the ages began.

 The Prophets, Angels, and You

God has been so kind since before the creation of the world that he predetermined to create and save sinners for our everlasting enjoyment and his eternal glory.  Since Genesis, God has been revealing bits and pieces of what would happen at Golgotha; here are some glimpses from the OT:

  • Genesis 3:15 tells us that someone from the line of Eve will crush the Serpent, yet in pain.
  • Exodus 12 shows us that the blood of a perfect lamb saves from God’s wrath.
  • Isaiah 9 says he will both be born and called Mighty God.
  • Daniel 7 says all nations will worship him and his rule will last forever.
  • Micah 5 says he’d be born in Bethlehem.

Jesus has been the theme of the bible since the first book, even the first verse!  All of the prophets spoke of Jesus.  And in verses 10 and 11, Peter tells us that the prophets spoke and earnestly searched in the scriptures to find out more of who they wrote and read of.

  • They looked forward to him and hoped in his work to be accomplished.
    • Friends, we look back to him and hope in his work that was accomplished.

God has ordained that you live in the wake of the prophets to enjoy the full revelation of his Son in the fullness of the gospel.

  • We first wished we saw what Peter saw, but now we read that the prophets would have wished to see the fullness of the gospel like you see it.

And I think it’s important to mention that the prophets were spoken to by the ‘Spirit of Christ’ about his sufferings and subsequent glories.

Jesus, the God-man – perfectly righteous, holy, and obedient fully to the Father.  The only man to walk the planet whose life would obtain the wages of faith – eternal life.

  • And yet, he suffered and died for the joy that was set before him, the author of Hebrews tells us.
    • Jesus set his hope fully on the Father and the promise of the reward; the prophets spoke of he who they did not know, and set their hopes on him and the coming reward.
      • And we, with unveiled faces set our hopes fully on the fullness of the gospel revealed to us – and we suffer here a little while to obtain the outcome of our faith in Christ.

How precious is this gospel, you may ask?  Peter says in verse 12 that the angels long to look into it, they try to peak and see what we receive and experience – but they cannot grasp, receive, or understand fully the grace of God revealed in the sufferings of Jesus and his glorious ascension.

  • Angels take interest in what God has taken interest in – the gospel.
    • They served God in the OT, announced the birth of Jesus in the NT, and stood in the empty tomb.
    • The angels marvel at the gospel, but don’t experience the gospel – they have no need of repentance, trust in Christ’s work, or salvation.

But friends, we do.  We are in great need to not only marvel at the gospel, but to experience it personally.

  • Are you grateful for having eyes to see Jesus? We need to praise God for his grace he extended to us freely.
  • Some of us need to ask for forgiveness from God and repent for our yawning at the Lord Jesus in all his beauty, worth, and splendor.
    • He is infinitely valuable, and we overlook him. Enjoy Jesus as your treasure.  Ask God to forgive you, and pray that he will enlarge your heart by his Spirit and word.
      • All of us need to see Jesus more and more.
    • Some of us, maybe, flat-out like Richard Dawkins, have zero interest in the gospel, surrendering to God’s word, and trusting in Jesus’ work on the cross.
      • I would like you to go away thinking that, if the angels care about these things, and if the angels study them, it is time that you did the same. I hope that you are not so foolish as to think that you know more than the angels.
      • Often times people, perhaps like Dawkins, speak out fanatically against the bible and have never read it to see who Jesus truly was.
        • So, I urge you to read the Word. Taste and see if the Lord is good.

So, as the holy angels desire to look into it, look into it for yourself, and may God grant you eyes to see Jesus, and all who look unto Him shall be saved forever.

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