Some days I just need to know that God is near. That he is here. That he sees, and hears, and knows.
Like Hagar, desolate and alone one moment, and in the next moment comforted with this revelation: “You are the God who sees me” (Gen 16:13).
Or like Jacob, dreaming of angels climbing up and down the ladder to heaven. He woke and declared, rubbing sleep from his eyes, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Gen. 28:16).
Or the Israelites journeying on endlessly around the same mountain, led by the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire. What mercy, to reveal his presence so constantly and his leadership so faithfully (Ex. 13:21-22).
The Apostle John went to great lengths to express the doctrinal truth that Jesus was a real man, one with hands and feet, and a voice, and eyes and ears, and thoughts and feelings. Jesus was very much as we are, except without the sin part (Hebrews 4:15).
He could be experienced:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4).
The completion of our joy is tied to the belief that our Savior is absolutely real. Not WAS real, IS real. Because if only the apostles who knew him in the flesh could have this fellowship experience, how could John invite others into it after he’d left the earth?
Because of the resurrection. He still is here. He is still near. He is still here, in the Holy Spirit he sent to live within and among us (John 16:7).
There were some in John’s day who were teaching a philosophy called Docetism. This philosophy asserted that Jesus Christ did not have a physical body, but only an “apparent and phantom one” (Encycl. Brit.)
No, John demands! He is real! I touched him. I rested against his chest and heard his heartbeat. I ate fish with him on the beach. He washed my feet.
John reports that Jesus said he had to go away, but that he would send an Advocate, a Comforter, a Spirit that would lead us into all truth. This friend would teach us his word, and strengthen us from within, and empower us to do great things in his name.
And once we encountered him we would never, ever be alone or apart from him. And life would never be the same, thankfully.
This is what I need to remember on days like today. He is closer than my breath.
Thank you Lord that you are near, that you are here, and that you see, and hear, and know all about it.