"A Sanctuary in the City… Living Faith"
holy spirit as lens to see Jesus

Vision Check

Shortly after moving to Kalamazoo this summer, I went down to the Secretary of State office to get my Michigan driver’s license…and for the first time, I did not pass the vision test without my glasses. I have worn glasses for almost 20 years, but – until now – I have assiduously avoided that little mark on my license that indicates that vision correction is necessary in order for me to drive safely. I need glasses. All the time. Everywhere. Without my glasses, the world is unclear. I get terrible headaches. I go through the day feeling fuzzy and a bit confused. And, I am unable to safely and efficiently navigate the world.

We wish to see Jesus.

In this week’s text from John, chapter 12, some Greeks – foreigners, outsiders – approach Jesus’ disciples and ask to see Jesus. Jesus’ response to this request seems to be a non sequitur. We actually never find out if the Greeks got to see Jesus at all. Instead, he goes into a long monologue about death and life, seeds and fruit, glorification and servitude.

We wish to see Jesus.

The expected answer would be for Jesus to welcome the Greeks, to teach and preach, possibly feed or heal. Instead, Jesus responds by encouraging his followers to see him, to really see him. Jesus claims his identity here as one who will fall in order that a greater harvest might be realized. As one who has become a servant in order that he might be glorified and God glorified through him. As one who will be lifted up on the cross, and lifted up in resurrection, in order that the systems of evil and oppression that rule this world might be defeated through love, mercy, and grace.

We wish to see Jesus.

Jesus calls on his followers to look at him, not through the eyes of the world, but through the refractive grace of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit’s lens on the events to follow, we see only one more Jewish insurrectionist executed by the Romans. The cross was not special or unique. Jesus was not the only person crucified by the Roman government. He was not even the only one crucified that day. The truth of that moment that resonates through the generations is that, in that moment, when Jesus is lifted up on the cross, and in the days that follow, people saw the divine revealed through the humanity of Jesus. Through the lens of Jesus, our vision of God is corrected, and the world around us is brought back into focus.

The corrective lens of the life and death of Christ reveals to the Church who God is and who we should be in response. The point of faith in Jesus isn’t about where we will go when we leave this life. We follow Christ so that we may be more deeply engaged in this life – ever drawing closer to the kingdom of God through our love for and service to those around us.

We wish to see Jesus.

If we really wish to see Jesus in the world around us, we must continue the great work he began – to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19).

May the peace of Christ be with you and may you see Jesus,