Sometimes it takes me forever to “get it.”
I had to travel to Colon, Panama for work last year, and it was probably the hottest and most humid place I’ve ever been in my life. It was an extremely long month of extremely long days, and I missed my wife and son so much it was like a physical pain. I had a routine, though, and it kept me going.
I read my bible for about 15 minutes—usually a chapter of something or a few Psalms. Then breakfast at 0630 in the hotel restaurant. After that, head out to the test—hoping the line at the canal wouldn’t be too bad. Also, I’d listen to worship music on my mp3 player anytime I got a chance. It wasn’t much, but it helped me to get through things away from my family and my church for 28 days.
But even with that, there were many things to take me away from my time with the Lord.
It had been a long day, and I was tired.
I had to get up early.
Or the guys wanted to do something that night, or that morning—it could have been any number of things.
Sometimes I would skip part or all of my devotional time, and I really felt it when that happened.
I had no one to blame but myself. So I just did my best to keep my “stuff” together and do my work. I knew the time would pass one way or another.
Two days before we left Panama, we were all in the van driving to work. I had my headphones on, as I usually did. It was great because we would inevitably get stuck at the canal for almost an hour, and also because it drowned out my annoying coworkers–and believe me, they would annoy Mother Theresa. Like usually happens, God knew better than me what I needed.
On this particular morning, the first song that came on when we stopped at the canal was this TobyMac song called “The Slam,” which is one I usually skip over. I never really thought much about listening to it: I didn’t care for his spoken intro.
This time, I stopped and listened to the words and this particular verse about John the Baptizer kept repeating in my head:
They came from the cities and towns all around
To see the longhaired preacher from the desert get down
Waist high in water, never short on words, he said
Repent, the kingdom of heaven can be yours
But he stopped in the middle of his words and dropped
Down to his knees and said, behold the Lamb of God
He’s the one, the slam, don’t you people understand?
You’re staring at the son, God’s reaching out his hand
God is reaching out to me. As He was to the people he interacted with during the three brief years of His ministry.
John the Baptist was really an amazing person. To start with, he fearlessly proclaimed the word of God, regardless of potential consequence. He also foretold of the coming messiah, the thongs of whose sandals he was not worthy to untie.
What I was thinking about was that not only did John recognize that a messiah was coming and the kingdom of Heaven was near, he recognized Jesus when He came. Not everyone did. Think about it. When Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized by John, he probably had to walk through a crowd of people that had come to hear John. There were almost certainly Pharisees among them. But Jesus ventured through the throng, and was baptized by an obedient John.
Behold the Lamb of God.
I wonder, how many of us would recognize Jesus if He came in such a way today?
Think about it, just for a minute.
What if you were at church? What if your pastor was right in the middle of a sermon, and then dropped to his knees in the pulpit when some scruffy looking guy in jeans and a tee-shirt came in?
Would you recognize him, too? Or, to steal from Brennan Manning, would you think your pastor’s cheese was sliding off his cracker?
I wonder what I would do? I like to think I have enough discernment that I’d be able to recognize
the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world
but I really don’t know. Of course, as a believer, I know how Jesus is going to come the second time. It won’t be like the first (see John’s Revelation if you want details).
My point is this:
I don’t know about you, but it’s my tendency to stare through people sometimes. Especially people I don’t want to see; like the people at the Jordan river that long ago day did not want to see some Nazarene carpenter.
I stare through people that want something from me I am not prepared to give them.
People that are hard to look at for various reasons.
People that annoy me.
But here is the truth: Jesus came for those people just like he came for me. He came for the old, for the rich, for the poor, for the ugly and annoying. He came for the beautiful.
He came for the dirty, smelly guy outside the Chevron who follows you to your car to beg for change.
And He also came for me.
Should I not, as a follower of His way, be prepared to treat those people the same way He would? Should I not recognize them for who they are in the same way He recognized me for who I am when I asked Him to be part of my life?
Should I not see them as His children? And with that recognition, in seeing a person just a little bit of the way God sees them, am I not seeing His face reflected?
Am I not recognizing Him, and being recognized?
Am I not at last becoming the person God had in mind when He made me?