In the last post, we talked about knowing Jesus being the supreme goal of every Christian. We are continuing today with a related topic which I felt that the Holy Spirit was highlighting to me.
It Takes Humility To Recognize Jesus When He Comes!
Isaiah 53:1-4 (NRSV) Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
Everything about Jesus was offensive to religious pride. He was unimpressive. There was nothing in his appearance to attract people to him. Yet the broken and humble recognized him as the Messiah.
Matthew 21: 1-9, 14-17, 31-32 (NRSV) When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?” He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there….
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
For the most part, the scholars, the learned, and the religious leaders of Jesus’s day rejected him. They boasted in appearances and in outward things but Jesus had nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. They boasted in their wealth yet Jesus was found gleaning fields with his disciples. The children and the sinners received him. It is still true that the prostitutes and sinners are often quicker to receive Jesus when he comes than the religious leaders are.
Truly, many people say that they want revival but they don’t receive Jesus when he comes to them. So often I’ve seen families of unbelievers, even those involved in witchcraft, receive Jesus when he came, yet the churches will not. I have seen a greater manifestation of the spirit of Christ and more miracles in the house of unbelievers willing to receive prayer than I have seen in many churches.
When You Receive Who Jesus Sends, You Receive Him!
Jesus still comes to us humble and riding on a donkey. He offends religious pride and nobody is able to receive him without humbling himself. He often comes riding on a donkey that has a different doctrine than we do. He comes to us in the form of people who are of a different culture, a different social status, who are unknown and unimpressive. Several years ago I share the story of how Jesus came to the pastor of a church in NYC through a little boy and healed his head.
Matthew 10:40 (NRSV) Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
John 15:20-21 (NRSV) If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
To reject who Jesus has sent is to reject Jesus. To receive who Jesus has sent is to receive him. The people from Jesus’s hometown didn’t receive him, because he was just a commoner to them, nobody special.
Mark 6:2-4 (NRSV) On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
Many people reject Jesus because he comes in the form of those who are familiar to them. God has put his spirit in the church and scripture teaches so clearly that God’s intention is for all of us to act as the body of Christ, never a one-man show. If we fail to receive, honor, and make way for the manifestation of Christ’s spirit through the various members of his body, we fail to receive Christ. Religious spirits of hierarchy, control, and tradition cause many church leaders to reject Jesus when he comes to them. This grieves Jesus because he wants to come and bless and heal people, but they all too often do not recognize him and reject him when he is in their midst.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NRSV) Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
When Jesus Comes In A Form You Don’t Recognize
Luke 24:13-17, 25-35 (NRSV) Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
…Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The disciples only realized they had received the resurrected Christ after they invited him to stay with them! He would have gone on.
Jesus has often come to me in such a way that I needed to humble myself to receive him. I used to have such a thing against rap music. But Jesus came to me in the form of Christian rappers who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their lyrics were overflowing with praise, scripture, and the gospel. I repented and humbled myself because I really wanted to know Jesus. Then I saw young people spreading the gospel in Central America through hip hop and dance, and I came to love Christian rap, especially in Spanish!
In my older teen years and early twenties, I frequented long prayer meetings at a Charismatic Episcopalian church, often getting home at three in the morning. Jesus has come to me in Baptist churches and other traditions. Two pastor couples who are good friends of mine are in the Brethren in Christ denomination. In Lancaster, we have seen the Holy Spirit move among the Amish and gathered with born-again Amish who began ministering healing and seeing Jesus do miracles. (Many of them have been excommunicated but still, have the traditional Amish dress and many of their customs.) I might have different doctrines and the traditions of another group or culture might not be “my thing,” but if Jesus is there, I want to see him, honor him, and receive him!
If You Love Jesus, He Will Come To You!
Let’s finish with a promise from Jesus himself:
John 14:23 (NRSV) Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
If you love Jesus, he will come to you! He will certainly to those who really want to know him, and only the humble will receive him. May your eyes be open to see him when he comes!
As many Christians say they want revival, the church has often rejected Jesus when he comes to them. Revival history shows that the most prominent religious leaders have often persecuted those who received Christ when he came to them!
But I want Jesus! Knowing him is worth everything, and if I have to give up my pride to see him, so be it! If I have to be offended, so be it! If I have to climb a sycamore-fig tree like Zaccheus did, OK. I want to see Jesus!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Go to Heaven Now!