Advent devotion: Jesus in his face
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’.” (Matthew 1:23).
It’s easy to imagine how strange this notion of God being “with” us (not just “over” us) was to some of the bigwigs of Jesus’ day, people who would have expected God to remain far off. In fact, Jesus paid for God to be with us with his life.
Just before Jesus’ crucifixion, when it became evident to his disciples that he would be “with” them no more, Jesus promised instead to be “in” them:
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you….On that day you will realize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:18, 20).
The book of Acts describes how Jesus’ Spirit in the disciples came with power (see Acts 1:8), enabling them to do all sorts of incredible things in Jesus’ name.
As Christians we believe that Jesus’ spirit can live in us as well. For me, celebrating Holy Communion is one way I imagine Jesus being within me and somehow enabling me too.
Several years ago, I heard an American pastor tell of how he had invited a friend, a health professional in Africa, to speak at a conference in the U.S. The church member sent to meet the visitor at the airport worried all the way about how he would recognize the guest as he came off the plane. But it turned out that he was able to single out the visitor easily. When asked later how he was able to do that, he said, “I saw Jesus in his face.”
Now I’ve never had any illusions about anything good being seen in my face, but even I can hope that others might somehow see Jesus reflected, however dimly, in the way I treat and care for others.
Dave DeWit lives in Bettendorf with his wife, Dortha.