A Series of Questions about Jesus with very short answers (non-scholarly, explaining -- not defending -- the positions)....................................................
Contains 3 similar questions:
· Have you ever seen Jesus?
· Have you ever talked to/with Him?
· How do (would) you recognize that person in front of you is Him, the Jesus?
1. Have you ever seen Jesus?
I have not seen the physical body of Jesus.
It is in heaven at the present time. He is sitting on a heavenly throne at the right of God the Father's throne. They are one being, since they share the same spirit, but they are separate personalities or voices within that one spirit. I visualize them as having two thrones, but I know that that is just an image--I do not know how it looks up in the actual heaven.
Stephen, one of the early Christian disciples, saw Him as the disciple was being killed for his faith:
"When the Jewish leaders heard this, they became furious. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at Stephen. But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right side. He said, “Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at God’s right side.” Then they shouted loudly and covered their ears and all ran at Stephen. They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him. And those who told lies against Stephen left their coats with a young man named Saul. While they were throwing stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After Stephen said this, he died." (Acts 7:54–60.
I will see the body of Jesus when He returns to the earth. He will come with the angels to purify the earth and set up an earthly kingdom.
Jesus has appeared physically to others in history--mostly to the apostles when His followers were only a handful of believers. But I have not seen His body, nor has anyone I personally know.
However, Jesus said that my trust in His love, in His divine authority, and in His work to take me to heaven was BETTER THAN seeing Him!
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, He appeared to his disciples at various times. They did not believe it was Him at first, but they soon realized that it was. One of the followers--Thomas--was not with the others when He first appeared to him, and here is the story of His encounter with the Risen Lord (The Gospel of John 20:19-31):
On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together. They had locked the doors because they were afraid of the Jews. Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, “May peace be with you!” Then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were very happy when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “May peace be with you! The Father has sent me. So now I am sending you.” …
Thomas was one of the Twelve. ... He was not with the other disciples when Jesus came. So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “First I must see the nail marks in his hands. I must put my finger where the nails were. I must put my hand into his side. Only then will I believe what you say.”
A week later, Jesus’ disciples were in the house again. Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, “May peace be with you!”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in front of his disciples. They are not written down in this book. But these are written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. If you believe this, you will have life because you belong to him.
Most of the early followers of Jesus did not see his body before He went up to heaven, but that does not stop us from knowing and loving Him. The apostle Peter--who lived and walked with Jesus while He was still on the earth before He died, was raised from the dead, and went up to heaven--wrote this:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you. God’s power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time. This makes you very happy, even though now for a short time different kinds of troubles may make you sad. These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. And you are receiving the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls." [1 Peter 1:3–9.]
2. Have you ever talked to Him yet?
I talk to Him when I pray to God. But I do not see Him physically when I pray. And my ears do not hear Him if He speaks. He normally answers my requests by doing things instead of speaking out loud to me.
When I just pray to "GOD", I am addressing all three of the Persons who are inside GOD.
Sometimes I address only one of the three specific Persons in the being that we call "God".
Sometimes I pray to God the Father, sometimes to God the Son (the Lord Jesus), and sometimes to God the Holy Spirit.
All three of these persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) are inside the being with the title "GOD". We have no good ways to describe this, because GOD is truly beyond our full understanding.
But somehow--and we claim this ONLY because God revealed this in His Word, the Holy Scriptures--there is a divine substance or divine being that shows itself as containing three (and only 3) distinct persons.
Each of these three persons is described in the bible as being divine, and having divine powers, and being worshipped as the only God.
In the bible, God's apostles and prophets spoke of the three persons as being God, and yet always stated that there is only ONE GOD.
Jesus Christ is called "God" by the apostle Paul in the book of Romans (9.5) while also describing Him as having a human body too: … and from the [Hebrew] race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever."
In the book of Acts (20.28), the apostle said that God had 'blood'--which could only refer to the body of Jesus: "…care for the church of God, which he obtained with His own blood"
And yet he can say in the book of First Timothy (2.5): For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the main Christ Jesus" and in the book of First Corinthians (8:6) "yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist."
I have written much about this already to you--and you have read and learned much about this already, so I will not repeat myself here again. But to remind you of where it is:
But you cannot really pray to just one of the persons within God, because they are all united. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father.
Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”
Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don’t come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. (Gospel of John 14:6–11)
And God the Holy Spirit is known as "The Holy Spirit", "The Spirit of God", "The Spirit of the Son", and "The Spirit of Christ". He is also said to come from inside the Father:
But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ (Ro 8:9)
Paul and those with him went through the areas of Phrygia and Galatia since the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the Good News in Asia. 7 When they came near the country of Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not let them. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went to Troas. 9 That night Paul saw in a vision a man from Macedonia. The man stood and begged, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we immediately prepared to leave for Macedonia, understanding that God had called us to tell the Good News to those people. (Ac 16:6–10.)
Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, “Father.” (Ga 4:6)
I will send the Friend to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth, who comes out from the Father [Jesus speaking, in the Gospel of John 15:26.]
Who knows the thoughts that another person has? Only a person’s spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts. It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God [1 Co 2:11]
Sometimes, I pray specifically to Him addressing Him as the "Lord Jesus", but most of the time believers pray to "God the Father".
But I do not physically see Him with my eyes, though, even He sees me. He sees everything from heaven.
· I do not hear a verbal sound if He speaks in heaven like a person does (He has done this in the past, though, speaking to the apostles from heaven--but not very often).
· If I ask questions, His answers come in various ways--but I do not hear a voice.
· If I ask for His actions, His actions may take different forms, come in different times, and will always be 'best' for the requested action (if my motives were good)
But this is the same as with God the Father. He answers prayers and requests for guidance, but never verbally out loud to me.
God--Father, Son, and Spirit--spoke to prophets in the past in words (to give us the scriptures) but we do not know if those words were actually heard by their ears or only by their minds.
I do know that Jesus hears me and answers through other people, through situations in my life, and sometimes just through my own thoughts.
He will make His answers known to you when you talk to Him. There is often a delay between your questions or requests, and His answers or provision, but you will know it is from Him.
Jesus used the example of sheep that recognize the sound of their shepherd's voice.
The sheep do not understand the words most of the time, but they can know that it is the Good Shepherd's voice. And they know enough about what He is telling them, so that they can follow His leading--to water or to pasture or to travel.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the person who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The one who guards the door opens it for him. And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them. When the worker sees a wolf coming, he runs away and leaves the sheep alone. Then the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. The man runs away because he is only a paid worker and does not really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. The Father loves me because I give my life so that I can take it back again. No one takes it away from me; I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”
The Good Shepherd will make His heart known to you.
3. How do you recognize that person in front of you is Him, the Jesus?
Since I don’t expect
to see Him in bodily form for a while (until He returns), I don’t 'look for Him' among people.
If someone told me that they were Jesus, I would not believe them because Jesus warned His followers about this in the Gospel of Matthew 24:
"Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his followers came to be alone with him. They said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that it is time for you to come again and for this age to end?” Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one fools you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will fool many people. … At that time, someone might say to you, ‘Look, there is the Christ!’ Or another person might say, ‘There he is!’ But don’t believe them. False Christs and false prophets will come and perform great wonders and miracles… “If people tell you, ‘The Christ is in the desert,’ don’t go there. If they say, ‘The Christ is in the inner room,’ don’t believe it. When the Son of Man comes, he will be seen by everyone, like lightning flashing from the east to the west… They will see the Son of Man coming on clouds in the sky with great power and glory. He will use a loud trumpet to send his angels all around the earth, and they will gather his chosen people from every part of the world."
He is supposed to stay in heaven until a certain time. The apostle Peter taught this in one of his first messages to the Jews of his time (after a miracle of healing a man in the crowd):
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, gave glory to Jesus, his servant. But you handed him over to be killed. Pilate decided to let him go free, but you told Pilate you did not want Jesus. You did not want the One who is holy and good but asked Pilate to give you a murderer instead. And so you killed the One who gives life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses to this. It was faith in Jesus that made this crippled man well. You can see this man, and you know him. He was made completely well because of trust in Jesus, and you all saw it happen!
Brothers and sisters, I know you did those things to Jesus because neither you nor your leaders understood what you were doing. God said through the prophets that his Christ would suffer and die. And now God has made these things come true in this way. So you must change your hearts and lives! Come back to God, and he will forgive your sins. Then the Lord will send the time of rest. And he will send Jesus, the One he chose to be the Christ. But Jesus must stay in heaven until the time comes when all things will be made right again. God told about this time long ago when he spoke through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will give you a prophet like me, who is one of your own people. You must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to that prophet will die, cut off from God’s people.’ ”
When HE returns, every eye will see Him and there will be no question of identity
When the Son of Man comes, he will be seen by everyone, like lightning flashing from the east to the west… They will see the Son of Man coming on clouds in the sky with great power and glory.
The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels
The first apostles recognized Jesus by His wounds from the cross and from His voice. But after He ascended to heaven, His body changed into its glorious form. That form would be terrifying and blinding if He appeared to us in person. For example, when He appeared to His disciple John in the Book of Revelation, this is how it was described and how it affected John:
"I, John, am your brother. All of us share with Christ in suffering, in the kingdom, and in patience to continue. I was on the island of Patmos, because I had preached the word of God and the message about Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard a loud voice behind me that sounded like a trumpet. The voice said, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
I turned to see who was talking to me. When I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands and someone among the lampstands who was “like a Son of Man.” He was dressed in a long robe and had a gold band around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like bronze that glows hot in a furnace, and his voice was like the noise of flooding water. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword came out of his mouth. He looked like the sun shining at its brightest time.
When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He put his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the One who lives; I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and to the place of the dead. So write the things you see, what is now and what will happen later.