Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
I WANT TO SEE JESUS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
11 MARCH 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Kings 18:4
2 Corinthians 6:11-18
Preparation Verse: (Isaiah 6:10)
10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Lest they see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed."
The title of today's sermon is "I want to see Jesus."
So as a place to get started, I think I had best ask, "Have any of you seen Jesus?"
Where did you see Him?
And then we also must ask, "Where do we go or how do we look in order to see Jesus?"
Perhaps we should sing about seeing Him as in the hymn, Open Our Eyes, Lord.
Hymn: Open Our Eyes, Lord.
Are our eyes open?
Do we see Jesus?
Maybe we have to open up more than just our eyes in order to see Jesus.
Maybe we have to open up our hearts and our ears also, as Paul told the Corinthians in his second letter, 6:11-13.
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:11-13:
11. Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is open wide.
12. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.
13. Now in a like exchange – I speak as to children – open wide to us also.
Paul was trying to show Jesus to the Corinthians, but they were having trouble seeing Him.
They wanted some way to reach out and touch Him, just as we also sang our own request to do the same.
They wanted someone to show them God's physical presence.
And in so doing, they were going astray of the truth, and Paul is reminding them that they have to go back to the basics.
All peoples of the world came from someone who knew the Lord; and as time went on, they lost sight of Him.
Even today we can see this loss of vision in but one generation; and then in another generation, even the one after that, the children may return to the Lord.
This rollercoaster effect of believing in and following God, and then of not believing in God and seeking our answers in other places, has been with us since the beginning of recorded time.
Israel was having the same problem, and the Lord cautioned the people, through Moses, not to be like others in the world that had fallen away.
In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, listen to the words that Israel heard while still in the wilderness.
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 18:9-14:
9. "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
10. "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
11. or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
12. "For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.
13. "You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.
14. "For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.
God had performed many and great miracles, and had even shown His presence in the form of smoke and fire and thick clouds with lightning and thunder.
He even spoke to them.
Yet in all of this, they looked to Moses, for he was a human being like them
that they could physically see and touch and feel and communicate with them in
ways that they couldn't imagine doing with God.
Yet Moses did communicate with God in that very way, and probably so could they have, if they truly sought God.
And we are not just speaking of the Israelites; we are also talking about most of the people today, even most of the people in our churches.
So the people would very quickly turn from God and seek their answers in other areas, or they would just complain when things didn't go the way that they wanted them to go.
Now, we aren't like that today, are we?
We, who call ourselves Christians, would never think of looking at a horoscope to see what the day holds for us, would we?
We would only seek our answers from God, through prayer, wouldn't we?
If we need water, we would seek the Lord's help in locating it, wouldn't we?
We would never think of seeking out a diviner to locate it for us, would we?
Because we don't seek God directly, we are weak.
And this is what the Lord was reminding the people about.
For if we continue to seek our answers in places and from people, and not from God, we begin to think that our only sources of answers are these worldly sources, which God tells us not to seek.
And because we seek them in other places, we actually end up with less, particularly in the area of love and peace.
Also remember that love and peace and Jesus are never found in worldly violence and the suffering and shedding of blood of humans or animals, for He is weeping with those who suffer, and over the hardness of heart that caused it.
If we truly want to see Jesus, then we have to start looking in the places God tells us to look, and with the same intent of God.
Let me give you an example of something that is going on today that began 3,500 years ago when the Israelites were in the wilderness and complaining.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Numbers 21:4-9.
Scripture reading: Numbers 21:4-9:
4. Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey.
5. And the people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loath this miserable food."
6. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
7. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people.
8. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live."
9. And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
Did you notice that the Lord didn't take away the fiery serpents? He just provided the way of healing.
The people were complaining about the Lord and what He had given them, for they wanted more.
But when faced with death, they would settle for even less, just to be able to look upon the bronze serpent upon the staff so that they might be healed.
But over time, the people began to lose sight of the fact that the bronze serpent was but a symbol of the Lord to remind the people that they were to repent of their sins against the Lord and thus be healed.
And copies of this bronze image are still with us today. They are used by the medical profession as a symbol of the healing that they render.
But Israelites began to worship the bronze symbol itself, as we are told in 2 Kings 18:4, as Hezekiah began his cleansing of the land to remove all idols that the people and corrupt leaders had set up.
Scripture reading: 2 Kings 18:4:
4. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.
Nehushtan means "a mere piece of bronze."
Hezekiah broke it in pieces to show the people that it wasn't the piece of bronze that could heal them; it was the Lord their God who could heal them.
Jesus presented this same symbolic description of Himself to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15.
Scripture reading: John 3:14-15:
14. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15. that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
Just as the Israelites of Moses' day, the Israelites of Nicodemus' day had sinned and rebelled against the Lord their God.
Jesus was telling Nicodemus, and us as well, that if we turn away from our sinful lives and turn to the source of our forgiveness and healing, we would be likewise healed and that He, Jesus, was Messiah and that through Him this would come about.
As further proof of this, He would even suffer death upon a cross, to be lifted up even as the serpent was lifted up.
Today, don't we have pictures and statues of Jesus that may or may not look
And don't we also have crosses of all shapes and sizes, and even some with
Jesus hanging upon them?
And there are people who feel that they are not near God unless they are also near one of these symbols.
Some people even make these symbols a substitute for Jesus and for repentance.
This is when it begins to turn into idol worship, and this is when it is even harder to see Jesus, for we are looking in all the wrong places.
So where do we look for Jesus, that we might see Him?
First and foremost, we don't look for Him among the ungodly things of this world.
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and listen to Paul's words as he points us in the right direction.
Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:
14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
15. Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
"I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
"And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18. "And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,"
Says the Lord Almighty.
The answer to all of Paul’s questions is: “nothing.”
If we are truly Christian, then we should have nothing in common with lawlessness or spiritual darkness or with the devil or with unbelievers, and we should have nothing to do with idols.
Then what are we to do if we are to see Jesus?
We are to be the temples of God so that He would dwell in us.
So if we clean up the temple of our life, and wash the windows and sweep up the floor, God will feel welcome and abide with us.
And we can all do this!
If we do this, where will we see Jesus?
We will see Him in each other.
This will happen if each and every one of us allows the Lord to truly open our eyes.
And this happens when we truly open our hearts to Him.
Hymn: Open Our Eyes, Lord.