The First Seeing of Christ

When we first meet the Lord, He makes Himself quite irresistible to us. He wins us over with His charm. He conquers our hearts with His unconditional love. He draws us near to Himself by His passion, and we fall in love.

If we come into a higher vision of His purpose, we get connected with other believers. We then begin to know Him with others. We pursue Christ corporately. But there is a danger in receiving a greater revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, one that moves from shallow waters into the depths. It’s the peril of allowing our first seeing of Christ to shape the way we recognize Him for the rest of our lives. (Please read that sentence again.)

I’m going to make this shockingly pointed: The Lord Jesus Christ will end up coming to us in a way that makes it easy for us to reject Him.

If we are pressing on to know the Lord, He will eventually come to us in a way that makes it easy for us to ignore Him, dismiss Him, and even reject Him. I’ve watched this happen repeatedly among Christian groups that felt they had a corner on knowing the Lord.

I believe this is God’s way of trying to keep us humble and open, like a child.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Do you recall the way He came into the earth?

Consider the situation. For centuries, Israel had waited for a political Messiah. They expected Him to break the yoke of Roman bondage and liberate God’s people from Roman oppression.

But how did the Messiah make His entrance into the world? He came in a way that made it easy for His own people to reject Him. He entered the planet as a frail baby, born in a feeding room for animals. The King of the universe was born as a weak human being in the ill-starred town of Bethlehem, in the midst of the stain and stench of animal manure. And His parents? A poor Jewish couple.

There He was. The promised Messiah who was expected to overthrow the mighty Roman Empire and set Israel free from Gentile oppression. A needy Nazarene born in a manger.

Interestingly, none of the Bible scholars who had the Old Testament memorized and knew the prophecies about the Messiah’s coming were present at Christ’s birth. The only people who were present were those who were led to Bethlehem by revelation. All of them happened to be shepherds and pagan astrologers, not Bible scholars.

When Jesus grew up, He ate and drank in their presence, and He taught in their streets (Luke 13:26). He was unassumingly modest, of humble origin. A mere carpenter; the son of a carpenter.

He grew up in the despised city of Nazareth, fraternizing with the despised and oppressed. But more startling, He befriended sinners (Luke 7:34). As such, the people of God didn’t recognize Him. Why? Because He came in a way that made it easy for them to reject Him.

And what about the disciples? Read the story again. Jesus continued to break out of their expectations. He couldn’t be pinned down, figured out, or boxed in. The Twelve were constantly confounded by Him. His teachings were offensive. His actions scandalous. His reactions baffling.

But the greatest offense of all was the cross. It offended everyone—both Jew and Gentile. The only crown the promised Messiah-King would accept was a crown of thorns. Look at Him again. A suffering Messiah, a defeated King. Boy, it’s easy to reject Him.

One of the Lord’s most faithful disciples teaches us this principle well. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. Do you remember what she did as soon as she recognized Him? She grabbed Him, and she wouldn’t stop clinging to Him.

Jesus responded, “Stop clinging to me.” Why did Jesus tell Mary to stop clinging to Him? Because He had somewhere to go. He was on the move. Jesus was poised to go to Galilee to see the other disciples and then to ascend to His Father.

Note the principle: He was moving forward, but she was clinging to Him.

Jesus was in effect saying to her: “Mary, stop holding on to me. There’s a new way to know me that’s different from what you’ve experienced thus far. Let me go, for I must move on.”

Excerpted from Revise Us Again by Frank Viola