He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 4: God in Disguise
The disciples were with the physical presence of God, and were completely unaware of it. They knew he was a man of God, of course. Who could watch his miracles and listen to his wisdom without knowing that? On at least one occasion they identified him as the Messiah, but there was nothing in the first-century Jewish hope of the Messiah that said he would be God incarnate. They expected him to be a man, empowered by God as was Moses, David or Elijah. But the idea that God would take on human flesh and live that way on the earth would have been unthinkable.
How could the holy God live among sinful people and engage them face-to-face? Their history told of such moments when God's presence came to his people. Even the most righteous had fallen on their faces in fear and some of the most evil had died. They thought that's what God wanted, but as we'll see their response had far more to do with how sin reacted to God than how God wanted to be known.
So God disguised himself, first as a baby in a manger, then as a young boy growing up in Nazareth and finally as a young man walking the hills of Galilee. No one had any idea God had come to live among them; and because of that no one cowered in fear or acted awkwardly with him.
For the first time since he walked the garden with Adam and Eve, God was among people the way he had always wanted to be. Broken lives were drawn to him, not repelled. His followers were secure enough in his presence to be genuine, even when that revealed their lust for power or their arrogance over others. Now God could experience the relationship he'd always wanted with his people.
Not even in the last day of his life before he was crucified had the disciples figured out who Jesus really was. Jesus said as much during the last meal he ate with them. "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well." When the disciples questioned him on it, certain they had no idea who his Father was, he got even clearer: "Don't you know me even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:7-9).
But now he wanted them to know. The disguise was about to come off. "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?" In a few hours he would be taken from them, tried, tortured and executed. The next time the disciples would see him he would be the resurrected Christ. There would be no hiding who he really was.
How would the disciples treat him then? Would they resort to cowering away in terror of his majesty? Jesus didn't want that realization to destroy the relationship he'd cultivated with them, but to make it grow even stronger. His words in the upper room were designed to help them move the relationship they had experienced with Jesus in the flesh to the Father they didn't yet know, to the post-resurrected Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. Instead of being with them in the flesh, however, God would come and dwell within. But not only could the relationship continue there, Jesus told them it would be even better than they had already experienced with him.
"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
Read those words again. Having just told them that he and the Father were one because the Father was in him, now he invites them into that same relationship. You will be in me and I will be in you. In these simple words Jesus reveals what God's desire had been from the first day of creation-to invite men and women into the relationship that God has known with himself for all eternity. It is as if they could no longer keep to themselves the joy, love, glory and trust that they had always shared together. Their purpose in creating the world was to invite us as mere creation to share the wonder of that relationship.