JOHN 1:29-34: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. ” NLT
OBSERVATION: Today, on the church calendar, we celebrate Maundy Thursday. While many churches do not recognize the traditional name that has been used over the centuries, they do recognize the events of this day. These events are recorded in John chapter 13.
- “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” John 13:1-5 NLT
On this final night before Jesus was crucified, He washed the disciple’s feet and then celebrated the Passover meal with them. It was after this that He would be betrayed, taken into custody, and rushed through a sham trial so He could be crucified before the Sabbath. What does all of this have to do with John the Baptist and the question – “Do I see Jesus?” Everything!
John the Baptist grew up with Jesus. He was only about 6 months older than Jesus and was a near relative. We do not have any Biblical record of their interaction. However, one could postulate that Jesus traveled with John and their extended family when He was young as they pilgrimaged to Jerusalem for the feasts. Jesus grew up to be a carpenter. John grew up to be a prophet. Everything seemed very ordinary until the day John looked upon Jesus approaching the Jordan river and declared,
- “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.”
What happened at this moment? John knew Jesus. Yet, on this day John saw Jesus for the very first time! God gave John the revelation of who Jesus was. He was not merely a relative, a carpenter from Nazareth. Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world! We know this was a revelation from God because John says,
- “I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. ”
Now we come full circle to this Maundy Thursday as we commemorate Jesus’ last celebration of the Last Supper with His disciples. Here was the Lord, the Messiah, standing before them as a common servant. A towel tied around His waist, kneeling before them to wash their feet. An unlikely picture of the Messiah they were looking for. It was so unusual that Peter blurted out,
- “…No…you will never ever wash my feet!” John 13:6-8 NLT
Peter did not see Jesus. The disciples did not see Jesus. And, Judas Iscariot surrendered to Satan and planned to betray Jesus. Later that evening they would all desert Jesus as He was arrested and taken to the Sanhedrin. Peter, the rock, would deny Jesus three times. They would look upon Jesus as He hung on a cross and die right before their very eyes. And, they would retreat in defeat and doubt as all of their hopes were crushed and the Messiah they believed in was buried.
On Sunday morning all of that would change! The stone was rolled away and Jesus was alive. Yet, it still did not change the way some saw Jesus. There is one section in the Gospel of Matthew that always troubles me. Jesus, risen from the dead, stands before them as He prepares to give them final instructions and return to heaven. As they listen to Jesus it is recorded,
- “…When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!” Matthew 28:16-17 NLT
How could some still doubt? How could the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the risen Lord, stand before them and some still doubt? The answer is they could not see Jesus. They saw Him with their physical eyes, much like John the Baptist saw Jesus all of his life. Yet, unlike John the Baptist, they did not receive the gift of revelation to see Jesus as the Lord of life. Without this revelation, the events of the last week of Jesus’ life are merely a story, to some a fable, unless they receive this revelation from the Father!
Everyone has doubts. Thomas, who walked with Jesus for three years had doubts. He did not believe the reports of Peter and the other disciples. He was adamant,
- “…I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” John 20:25 NLT
Jesus met Thomas at his point of doubt. Jesus said to Thomas,
- “…Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:27-29 NLT
John the Baptist was unsure of who Jesus was. The eleven disciples, even after three years, struggled to understand who Jesus was. Judas Iscariot never discovered who Jesus was. And, some, who even saw the risen Lord doubted who Jesus was. Yet, for everyone who looked upon Him in faith, God the Father opened their eyes to see Jesus!
John the Baptist would die knowing that he had prepared the way of the Lord. The eleven disciples would be persecuted and most of them martyred for their unfailing faith in Jesus. Something happened when they saw Jesus! Their lives were forever changed. They stepped from death into life. There was nothing that could separate them from the love of God. And, they live eternally with Him in heaven.
Who do you see on this Maundy Thursday? Are you confused when you look at a humble servant? Do you struggle over His words during the Last Supper? Do you look at the cross and see defeat and doubt the empty tomb? Or – through eyes of faith – do you see Jesus?
The gift of revelation is not given to us because we are better than others. The gift of revelation is given to those who understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior. The gift of revelation is when we come to the cross, lay down our burdens and sins, and ask the risen Lord Jesus into our hearts. Revelation is the gift of faith and it is available to everyone!
- “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:12-13 NLT
- “In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Romans 10:8-11 NLT
As we commemorate the historical events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday, what will you see? My prayer is that – YOU WILL SEE JESUS!
In Jesus Name!