TEXTS: John 20:1-18; 1 John 1:1-3
It’s a glorious day, isn’t it? There’s no holier day—and, for me, anyway—no more exciting, no more joyful day in the church year, than Easter Sunday.
I want to begin with a story …
A little boy, frightened by a violent thunderstorm, called out one dark night, “Daddy, come here. I’m scared!”
“Son,” his father replied, “God loves you, and he’ll take care of you.”
“I know God loves me,” the boy answered, “but right now I want somebody who has skin on!”
That’s a perfect description of Jesus. He was “God with skin on.”
Many of us wish we could have walked the dusty streets of Jerusalem with Jesus while he ministered on this earth, or sat at the table with him when he broke bread and blessed it. But we can’t. Or can we?
The apostle John, who personally walked and talked with Jesus, says that we can know him. No, we cannot reach out and touch him right now, but he is here just as powerfully as he was with his disciples some 2,000 years ago. He wants to speak to us, guide us, protect us, and develop a close friendship with us.
In the First Letter of John, chapter one, the apostle writes: “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life … what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3).
According to a commentary I looked at, the phrase translated “seen with our eyes” could more literally be rendered “to view attentively, to contemplate, to gaze upon as a spectacle.” Imagine what it must have been like to see God in human form. Imagine what it would be like to hear his voice with our own ears!
People often ask, “What did Jesus look like?” But you know, the apostle John—who spent several years with him—never mentions his appearance; not once, even in passing. Yes, John spent hours gazing at Jesus, but evidently not because of the Lord’s striking physical appearance. It seems that Jesus was rather ordinary in the way he looked.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus took the resurrected Christ to be an ordinary man. At the empty tomb—as we read in the 20th chapter of John’s gospel—Mary mistook him for the gardener. Certainly, no Bible passage tells us he wore a permanent halo. Judas told the enemies of Jesus that they could identify the Master when he would kiss him on the cheek. Now, if the Lord looked as striking as we might imagine him to look, he would have been easily identified—without a kiss from his betrayer. “He’s the guy who looks like a king,” Judas could have said. But he didn’t.
Why doesn’t Scripture give us a physical description of Jesus? Because it is not important. Though he looked ordinary in his outward appearance, John and the others had never met anyone like him. The disciples spent practically every waking hour in the presence of Jesus, enthralled—and sometimes unnerved.
Scripture tells us that John would often lean his head on the chest of Jesus so as not to miss anything (see John 13:23); that way, he could hear even a whisper. All of the disciples watched Jesus carefully, hung on his every word, and scrutinized his every move. And John says that this Jesus can be known today!
We might not be able to walk and talk and eat with Jesus in person as the disciples did, but we can have fellowship with him nonetheless. Jesus himself said, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Rev. 3:20).
That, my friends, is a big part of the message of Easter. This Jesus whom we worship as God, whom we revere as Saviour and Lord, really is alive today—and he really does want you to know him, and have a relationship with him.
Are you ready to walk with the Saviour? Are you hungry for the food he has prepared for you? Are you anxious to spend some quality time with him, listening to his counsel and committing yourself to his plan for you? Then I invite you—in the days ahead—to get acquainted with him.
How can you do that? Well, reading the Bible is one very good way to start. Oh, I don’t mean you have to read the whole thing from cover to cover (not right away, anyhow). But you could begin by reading the first four books of the New Testament. After all, the gospels were written so that we might come to know Jesus through the eyes of the disciples who lived and ministered with him.
Another good way to get to know Jesus is by devoting some time every day to prayer and meditation—to both speaking to God and listening to God. By all means, tell the Lord what’s on your mind. Ask him for the things you need. Pour out your heart to him. You’re even allowed to complain, if you want to! But then—and too many of us forget about this part—remember to take time to listen for the Lord’s response.
And a third thing I would suggest to you is this: Don’t be a stranger in God’s house! The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that it’s important for believers to spend time together. In chapter 10, he says: “… let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another …” (Heb. 10:24-25a). Scripture tells us that we should expect to meet the living Christ in our midst—and in one another.
So there, my friends, is my very short Easter blog. Short—but, hopefully, to the point. If you want to get to know Jesus personally, there are three important things you should do to start with: read the Bible; pray; and come to church.
Actually, don’t just come to church on Sunday mornings, but make time for fellowship with other believers during the rest of the week, as well. Maybe it could be at a Bible study. Maybe it could be at a church supper or bazaar or movie night. But it could also be in somebody’s living room, or at Tim Horton’s, over a cup of coffee—or even on the telephone.
That’s how it works. If you want to get to know Jesus, come join his family! And I guarantee that you will find him there—not just on Easter Sunday, but every day. Thanks be to God. Amen.