As we imagine Bible stories in our minds, most of us construct images in ancient dusty scenes that are nothing like today. Unfortunately, that fosters a “That was then; this is now,” mentality that discounts God’s hand in our present day lives. What if the Father’s timing had sent His Son to earth in 2015? Would Jesus be wearing a robe and sandals? Would He speak the Aramaic language? … or would He speak King James English? 🙂 Hmm, probably not. No matter where He was sent, Jesus would wear contemporary clothing and talk in a way ordinary people could understand. How can I be so certain? Isaiah prophesied that Jesus wouldn’t stand out by His appearance.
“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” (Isaiah 53:1-2 NASB).
Was Jesus the man with the halo and the shining face? No, I don’t think so. In our minds, we imagine that it was easy for the people of Israel to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. That wasn’t the case at all. In Luke 3:22 we read that John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus and heard the voice of God declare Jesus as His Son. If anyone should be thoroughly convinced, it should be him. Yet, even with supernatural confirmation, John was plagued with doubt and had to ask if Jesus was the Messiah.
“The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ ” (Luke 7:18-19 NLT).
Recognizing the Messiah
Why do I mention Jesus’ appearance? Have you considered why the Disciples turned away from their daily lives so effortlessly when they were called? We can easily fail to appreciate the miracle of their transformation. Jesus dressed like them; He spoke like them. Yet, when He passed by and called them, they dropped their fishing nets and followed Him without the slightest hesitation. In contrast, if Jesus walked through the hall outside my office, would I know Him? What if He leaned in my doorway, peered over my computer monitor and spoke, “Follow Me”? How exactly would I know this man was truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God? I certainly wouldn’t know by His appearance.
Jesus likely passed many people that day by Galilee, but He gently called four fishermen. These may have been uneducated men, but they were spiritually thirsty for something only God could provide. Peter, Andrew, James and John each knew Christ’s voice because the Father had prepared them in advance. In the Book of John, Jesus explains to the Jews that were questioning Him,
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44 NASB).
When these men were invited to follow Jesus, not one of them said, “Who are you?” They didn’t ask, “Where are you going?” None of them shouted, “Why would we follow you?” All the natural human questioning had been settled in advance by the revelation God had placed in each of their hearts. When Jesus was with His Disciples in Caesarea Philippi, He enquired what they believed.
“Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.’ ” (Matthew 16:15-17 NLT).
Asking the right questions
God responds to those who are asking the right questions. There are many people in this world whose minds are made up; they know how things are. They’ve figured it all out and don’t have anything to learn. Ironically, this is the definition of a dead religion, whether it is Christianity, another religion or no religion at all. If you have no genuine questions, you’ll hear nothing from God. A genuine question is an honest search for the Truth. Humility is the ability to ask a question and listen without presuming the answer.
When the people of Israel were told of their eventual deliverance from captivity in Babylon, God made them a simple promise. He told them that if they were willing to ask sincerely, He would answer.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NASB).
When I was an unbeliever, I occasionally asked questions of God in an accusatory manner. Not surprisingly, I never received answers. One day, I sat in a Chemistry class at Indiana University. The discussion turned to the details and interactions of particles much smaller than atoms. Although I can’t explain it, my mind shifted and I saw that our universe had an architect. I was immediately convinced that it took less faith to trust in God than to embrace a world created by nameless chance. In my mind I spoke, “God, I believe. If You have something to say to me, I’d like to hear it.” I began asking God questions in a different way. Within thirty days, I was a Christian.
Connecting with God’s Call
I don’t believe my story is unusual. God meets each us where we are if we are willing to honestly turn our thoughts toward Him.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT).
So go ahead; ask God a question. When you ask, believe He hears you and listen for an answer. He’ll meet you wherever you are.
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