To this day, she believes that it was Jesus. My mom was the children’s librarian in a small, rural library which occupied the old savings and loan building. Her desk was located by a large, glass window which faced main street in the little town in which I grew up. While working one afternoon, she quickly glanced outside, and was literally stunned. Staring back at her from across the street was a man in a flowing white robe. He had long hair, a big smile, and piercing eyes. My mom had this feeling that she was looking at Christ himself. After a moment of composing herself, she literally ran outside to get a closer glimpse of this enchanting figure, but he was nowhere to be found. She looked up and down the street to no avail. I’m sure many would question or doubt my mom’s description of this person. No, she wasn’t having a hallucination. In her heart she truly believed that it was Jesus himself staring back at her, as this encounter has brought her years of hope and encouragement.
So, where do we encounter the living Jesus? Where do we seek his presence? Where can we be assured that he will be around as promised? In Holy Scripture there are specific references to Christ’s guaranteed being. In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” When we come together for worship, prayer, discussion, encouragement and comfort in God’s name, we know for sure that Jesus is with us. The Lord tells us in Matthew 28:20, “I will be with you always until the end of the age.” Christ promises his presence when the church is making disciples and sharing the Good News of Jesus locally, regionally, nationally and globally.
Another place where Jesus can be encountered is with those hurting, struggling, poor and in great need. Matthew 25: 37-49 says, “Then the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’”. Many years ago, I picked up a guy on the side of the road who had run out of gas. I know that we’re told to be cautious about doing those kinds of things, but I had a feeling. And I’m sure glad that I did. During the short drive to the gas station and back, this man literally shared Jesus with me. I felt that I had experienced God.
A final way that we can encounter the Savior is by loving him. In John 14:23 it is written, “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” God chose to create us all very differently. He chose not to make us robotic where we would be forced to love the Lord. Instead, God has provided us free will. And there is nothing sweeter then freely loving Jesus with our own hearts. In my first congregation I came to know an individual named Clara. Clara was an older woman who was so filled with the love of Christ. You could see it by the smile on her face. You could see it by the joy that came out of her heart. You could see it by the enthusiasm she exuded in worshiping and serving others. And you could see it by her passion for the Word of God. Clara’s love for Jesus was magnetic and the same is offered to us. Because when we cling to Christ and come to know him, our love for him will grow.
In John 12:21 some Greeks asked the disciple Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” And I hope our request is the same. May we be open and ready to encounter the living Christ.