Monday, March 29, 2010

Will we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today?

"When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages[a] would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"

Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself"(John 6:5-15).

Would we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today? If someone performing signs and miracles were to suddenly appear would we know for sure that it was Jesus?
If Jesus again walked among us, recognizing him would present a problem: The scriptures warn us that the working of signs and wonders mean absolutely nothing, because the Devil himself can duplicate these signs and wonders. The scriptures warn that even those who are called leaders in the Church will be deceived. Thus, the scriptures teach us that we are to ignore signs and wonders, and we cannot depend upon our religious leaders to recognize the return of the Christ.

This means the modern believer is confronted with a very serious problem that each of us must come to terms with. Once we acknowledge that we can neither rely upon either signs or our religious leaders, we are then left solely dependent upon our own wisdom and perception of the Word of God, which ultimately means, we must use the same exact test as did the Jews to recognize the true Messiah when he comes. This presents a problem, in that, the only valid test which is ordained in the scriptures is to look for the one who will inaugurate the Kingdom of God.

In the realization of this fact, every Christian should ask himself what they would do today if we were confronted with the same exact problem as were the Jews at the beginning of our Common Era? What if a great teacher came and claimed to be the Messiah, performed miracles and signs, healed and raised the dead, and yet he failed to fulfill the most important prophecy of scripture, and inaugurate the Kingdom of God upon the earth? Would we open our arms to him; hear his message; and alter our lives in accordance with his teachings? Or, would we point to the warning of the scriptures, and like many of our Jewish brothers say: If you are indeed the Messiah, the Chosen One sent by God, then fulfill the scriptures, and inaugurate the Kingdom as the Bible foretells. But what comprises the Kingdom of Heaven? How will we recognize that sign? What should we look for in the person who claims to be the returning Jesus?
All of us would like to say that we would recognize Jesus. Probably most of the Jews thought the same thing.
I think something to keep in mind is the distinct difference between Jesus and other religious leaders and miracle workers.
Jesus didn't ask for anything for himself. Jesus didn't ask for power, money, or fame. He didn't destroy, he built. He did not condemn, he forgave. He did not judge, he loved. He only healed, he did not harm. I suppose if someone who possessed all those same characteristics would seem to fit the pattern of Jesus. However, I believe that we as his followers will know him in our hearts and souls. We will recognize him by his love, his caring, his compassion, his acceptance of all who are forgotten.
Feeding the multitude was a sign of the power of Jesus while he walked the earth, but the bigger sign I think is the fact that he cared that the people were hungry and he cared about feeding them. He was concerned about the entire person and their needs. Jesus will feed both our bodies and our souls. We will know him by his love for us.

Peace and love,

"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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