The Power of an Encounter

I have been listening to Doug Jacoby’s podcasts on worship.  I just heard one on seven confessions statements in the book of John.  I LOVE this!  Jacoby talks about seven people who encounter Jesus and clearly see that he is the Son of God, the Messiah.  It is encouraging to realize that all manner of people could see this about Jesus.  It was not this obscure philosophical thing.  He wasn’t just thought of as a good teacher who the masses were attracted to.  People who interacted with him could tell there was something profoundly divine in him.

  • 1:34   John the Baptist:  “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
  • 1:49   Nathanael: “Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.'”
  • 4:42   Samaritans: “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'”
  • 6:69   Peter: “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’  … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'”
  • 9:38   Blind man:  “Jesus said to the blind man,  ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ . . . ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’  ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’  Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”
  • 11:27  Martha: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
  • 11:50  Caiaphas: “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. . . . Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation…”
  • 20:28  Thomas: “Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Reading these verses is great because I can start to think it is hard for people to come to faith.  These passages show it is not.  When I was flying to Oregon on vacation, I sat next to a woman who insisted that if someone reads the Bible, they will believe.  She grew up not knowing much about God.  But she was given a Bible and when she started to read it, she began to believe.  We had someone over to dinner last week who told us his conversion story.  Ten years ago he didn’t have much use for God.  He started coming to church and studying the Bible because his wife was doing it.  He told church members straight out he wasn’t interested.  But as he began to study, he began to come to faith.

An encounter with Jesus, either in person or through the word of God, is powerful.

You know, I was praying this morning that God would forgive my intermittent discontent — seeing a nice spacious house and wanting it, seeing people who are successful and wanting that.  People who encountered Jesus didn’t struggle with discontent.  They gave up everything they had and followed him.  There was no allure in material possessions, no allure in accomplishment.  This is what an encounter with Jesus does.  We realize that he is HUGE.  It rocks our world.  We see something that will fill that barren empty spot inside.

And now, every answer is in Christ.  He fills everything in every way.  (Eph 1:23)  Cradled in him, we will bear much fruit.  (John 15) Nothing can separate us from his love.  (Romans 8)  We can bask in him, revel in him, confide in him, converse with him.  He is there to give us guidance and wisdom.  (John 14)  He wants to bear our burdens and give us rest.  (Matt 11:28)  He believes in us and has vision for us. He sticks to us like glue.  He strengthens us.

Jake preached yesterday about how people forget that Jesus is GOOD NEWS.  As the Samaritans proclaimed, he is the Savior of the world.  How can we live our lives in a mundane way?  We are saved, forgiven, walking in the light.   And as for me, I don’t have to feel insecure, ineffective, or impotent.  I have a purpose.  I am never alone. I have hope.  I offer hope to others.

An encounter with Jesus changed lives.  A series of encounters with Jesus changed history.  Encountering Jesus today, and every day, will change me.  Bringing others into an encounter with Jesus will change their destinies, and ultimately, change the world.


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