WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – We all want to be more like Jesus. Through study and spiritual disciplines, we’ve made some progress, but we really wish it was more.
In today’s passage, John reveals a key principle of spiritual growth that can help: At the end of our lives, God will complete whatever is lacking in our transformation into his Son’s image, and he will do so in one moment and by one method:
“Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
To see Jesus is to become more like him. Really seeing him for who he is transforms us into his image more than any other spiritual discipline we can exercise.
It was so for Peter, Paul, and other disciples, but let’s look at Thomas. After following Jesus for three years, he was zealous (“Let’s go too so that we may die with him” John 11:16) but still tentative (“If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands…I will never believe” John 20:25). Then, the risen Christ faced Thomas directly and invited him to a more profound contact than ever before: “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe” (John 20:27).
The effect was instantaneous. Thomas made more progress in that one moment than in all the years before: A follower of the hoped-for Messiah became a worshiper of the Son of God: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus explained the transformation: “Because you have seen me, you have believed” (John 20:29a).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Few of us will have a visual encounter with the risen Jesus as Thomas did (I haven’t). All of us can learn to come into his presence and see him by faith. And he promises a special blessing on that: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29b).
There is a vast difference between understanding Christ and encountering him. The former is helpful; the latter is transforming. Here are several ways we can see Jesus every day:
- In prayer – Talk to him in plain words that express your heart. Know by faith that he is listening and then listen for his answer. Extend prayer beyond your devotional time. Keep a running conversation with him throughout the day. Tell him what a great job he did with the sunset. As you drive home, ask him what to do to bless your family when you get there.
- In his Word – Always read the Bible as a love letter from its author. Look first for a Person, not just a principle. Go to the written Word to meet the Living Word, and he will not disappoint you. Tell him you’ll do what he’s telling you and explain where you need his help. As you read the gospels, tell him how you love the way he handled things and ask him to help you “go and do likewise.”
- In our circumstances – Notice the tender ways he protects and provides for you, often before you recognize a danger or a need. Look for the opportunities he gives you to serve him and to bless others. Jump at those opportunities and listen for his, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
However many years we have left, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:1-2). That’s the key. The more we look at him, the more we become like him.