Believe and see

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, replied, “Lord, by the time the body will have a bad smell, because he has been buried four days.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?”
John 11:39-40

Martha was a woman just like any of us, fickle in our belief. In one moment, she stands in agreement with Jesus’ powerful declaration of Himself and announces her belief in Him (John 11:25-27), but when she is placed before the tomb, her unbelief is revealed so clearly (John 11:39). Jesus couldn’t have been fooled that Martha is concerned about the smell or hygiene issues. To translate what Martha is truly saying, “Lazarus has been dead for four days and is most surely and truly dead. Opening the tomb will do nothing more than release the stink of decomposition.” Jesus can’t possibly resurrect a decomposing body… can he?

Jesus then makes a powerful statement, “if you believe, you would see the glory of God”. Believe and see the glory. What did Jesus mean see the glory? Was it just seeing the miracle?

For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn to me, and I would heal them.
Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him.
John 12:39-41

Jesus later spoke about those who did not believe in Him and contrasted them against Isaiah who “saw Christ’ glory”. Here, seeing the glory of Christ was the same as believing in Jesus as Christ cymbalta generic. Think about how Jesus helped the unbelieving father to believe – he healed his daughter. Think about how Jesus helps unbelieving Martha to believe – he resurrected her brother. Seeing God’s glory isn’t just seeing the miracles, it is believing in the person and mission of Jesus Christ.

But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.
John 10:38

Jesus is the glory of God (John 1:14). To see God’s glory is to see Jesus as Christ. But not just as Christ the saviour of the world, but Christ who is capable of resurrection and life – the one that death has no hold over. When Jesus prays “Father, glorify me at your side…” (John 17:4), He speaks of being raised from death and being in God’s presence – not by removing His humanity, but glorifying His humanity. Jesus speaks of His bodily resurrection as His glorification. It is the confirmation that Jesus is Christ – that death has no hold over Him (1 Corinthians 15). Lazarus resurrection was a demonstration of Jesus’ power over death and foreshadows His own resurrection/glorification… and ours (Romans 8:18).

This is big news. When we believe, we see His glory and we possess His glory. We possess His resurrection. The confirmation of life eternal is founded in the glory and glorification of Jesus Christ.

He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:14

Behold to transform

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Every marketing and advertising guru knows this: you are what you see. This works by establishing strong neurological pathways through constant exposure to a brand, product or idea. They can literally imprint a brand, product or idea into a person’s head. So the use of multiple channels of advertising is important – radio, television, print media, social media, internet… etc, the more a person sees and hears, the more the person’s behaviour (and attitude/ideology/person) is changed.

This is not a new discovery. Jacob transformed his flock of sheep by exposing the desired outcome before their eyes (Genesis 30:25-42) and God commanded that the Israelites put the Law on their hands and before their eyes, to recite them daily, to tell them to their children, to recite it when they wake up, before they sleep and when they sit or walk (Deuteronomy 11:18-21). Talk about constant exposure! This principle is perhaps as old as time: behold to transform.

But beholding isn’t just glancing or looking, it is reflecting. It is a mirror looking intently at what it is placed before and reflecting the same image back. The mirror is beholding. The mirror is seeing, capturing, savoring and reproducing that image back. That is the same way that we reflect God’s glory. We behold His glory. We take it in to reflect it back out. In a simple way, we become what we see.

And that is how transformation takes place.

Breaking of Bread

Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:19-20

We have communion on most Sundays and every Easter, we partake of the communion. It becomes such a habit that it is taken without consideration of what it actually means for us. Although I don’t entirely agree with the Catholic’s view of the Eucharist, there is so much more to communion that Protestants make it to be. There is something spiritually significant about the bread and the cup that symbolises Jesus’ body.

Communion means “sharing in common”, from the Greek word κοινωνία (koinōnía) in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The participation in communion is a gathering of believers sharing a common meal and fellowshipping together as a reminder of Jesus, who lived and died a perfect and sinless life of love towards mankind and obedience towards the Father. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; See also Isaiah 61:1-2). We are reminded not just of all the benefits we have in the cross because of His work, but also of the solemn truth that Christ, the one and only Son of God was hung on the cross for us. Every time we partake of communion, we look upon the cross again.

When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Didnt our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:30-32

The Road to Emmaus is an amazing story of what the breaking of bread does to unbelief. The disciples explanation of who Jesus is and what His work meant showed their unbelief. They saw a dead prophet who was once great, who they thought would be the Messiah (Luke 24:19-24). Their minds were foolish to understand and their hearts were slow to believe (Luke 24:25).

The Road to Emmaus was a first in many ways. It is the only recorded time that Jesus broke bread with His disciples after the resurrection. He had done so the night of His arrest (Luke 22:19-20) and had given them the reason for having communion together – “in remembrance of me.” He was showing them that tomorrow He would be the bread of life (John 6:35) broken for them. But here, it was the resurrected Jesus, risen Christ, the living bread reminding them of Himself.

Before the breaking of bread, they were kept from recognising him (Luke 24:16) but once He broke the bread, blessed it and gave it to them, their eyes were opened. This was more than a reminder, it was a revelation. They had a revelation that the person before them was Jesus Himself. Not only was it Jesus, it was Jesus alive (and not dead)! Just moments before, they saw the man standing before them as no more than a knowledgable man, and after that, He was recognised as the Resurrected Christ (v24). The breaking of bread was the move of the miracle itself.

Was there anything special about the breaking of bread that allowed them to recognise the risen Christ?

For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26

But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

Yes there is.Communion is the symbolic act of the gospel, the story of the cross and Christ. Whenever we partake of communion, we retell the gospel story, we remember Christ. Communion is a proclamation. The action of breaking the bread makes a declaration / announcement of Jesus’ body broken for our sins. It is the gospel being revealed in practical action. It causes us to turn our eyes to the cross and to Christ. The breaking of bread has the spiritual might to lift the veil and cause us to see Christ afresh.

In a way, we are all on the journey to Emmaus. Christ journeys with us and woos us to Himself. He interrupts our foolish minds and slow heart (v25) and speaks understanding into our Spirit. He is there and has always been there, yet sometimes when He speaks, we fail to recognise Him. The next time we break bread together, think about what is released by this simple act of declaration. Think about the unveiling of our eyes to recognise the risen Christ. In our daily lives to recognise Christ. In our work places, in our families, in our hobbies, He is there, and He has always been there. It’s about time we made that declaration that the world might see Christ as we do.