Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Recognizing God ................ Parables 598

June 2, 1998

Dad “works better” with Mom around. They have been partners for nearly sixty years. Together they are much stronger than they are apart.

This is particularly true in the past few years. My mother has Alzheimers and my Dad has legs that will not work. He has been her mind and she his body. Now, both are struggling. Although they need each other, neither one is much help, either with memory or physical activity.

Since February, Dad has been separated from Mom because he needed nursing care. It is only across the street from her senior’s lodge, but life is frequently confusing for him. His memory plays tricks. Some days he thinks he sees my mother but it is someone else. Does he forget what she looks like? I don’t think so. When she visits, he recognizes her instantly. Whatever goes wrong when she is not there seems to work just fine when she is with him.

Their situation is sad, yet they enjoy small delights and are always thankful. They remind me constantly of things God is teaching me. Like them, I do better with others around, most of all God. He has been a faithful partner, even when my mind and body do not do whatever I want them to do. There are days when I am unsure of His presence, but others when I recognize Him instantly. No matter what goes wrong in my life, I know He is always close, whether I sense it or not. Because of Him, I enjoy small delights and am thankful.

For myself and others who believe in Christ, recognizing God is not a problem, yet it was for people in the first century. When Jesus came to earth, the Bible says, “the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

Odd that His own (referring to the Jews) would not know Him. Their relationship with God went back several centuries. Didn’t He act like the God they thought they knew? Didn’t He look familiar? Or were they having problems with their eyesight?

At that time in history, the Jewish people were under the thumb of Rome, humiliated by both military and economic defeat. The Romans tolerated their presence but life was not easy. For years, God had promised a Messiah, a great deliverer. Most people were certain He would come as a man of war.

However, Jesus was anything but that. Besides, He didn’t act like the God of the Old Testament who helped them battle their enemies. How could this Jesus be God? If He showed anger, it was not against Roman oppressors but against self-righteous Jews.

Once He made a whip and drove them from the temple, accusing them of greed and turning His Father’s house into a “den of thieves.” He even accused them of violating the laws of God, pointed out other sins but mainly condemning them for not believing God had sent Him to redeem them. A few realized who He was and followed Him. Those who refused to admit their sin and rejected all that Jesus offered them were the same people who did not recognize Him.

According to Scripture, these rejecters had “eyesight problems.” They were blind to the identity of Jesus because their sin kept them from seeing reality. Their lack of vision was correctable. All they needed to do was acknowledge that Jesus was no ordinary man and seek His true identity. If they admitted they were sinful, God would have cleansed them and opened their eyes. In refusing to do this, they missed their opportunity to know God through Christ.

For all who want to know Him today, the same principle applies. We too must acknowledge our sin, admit our helplessness, and keep our eyes open. God will reveal Himself. He will forgive and cleanse our sin. He will give us a new understanding of reality. And when He does, we will never forget what He looks like.

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