We would like to see Jesus
The Experience of Philip (a first person account)
It was nearing the feast of the Passover.
One evening I was approached by two Greeks
with a request, “we would like to see Jesus.”
Together with Andrew I went to tell Jesus.
His response surprised me.
It was the worst kind of advertisement for his mission.
Why talk about your impending suffering and death
to a well-intentioned and unsuspecting first-time seeker?
This wasn’t the first time though.
At Mount Tabor Peter, James and John
had seen his glory,
but coming down from the mountain
he immediately predicted his suffering as death.
He seemed to tell us that if we really wanted to see him
we must accept him as the Suffering Servant, portrayed by Isaiah.
In his farewell discourse he seemed to identify “seeing” with “knowing”,
and in the unkindest cut of all, I who had been with him,
having seen him, yet did not know him.
Being one of the crowd that followed him
is no indication of discipleship, as we were soon to realise.
Not even being his close companion was enough.
Most of us would see, yet not perceive.
It is the test of faith to see beyond appearances.
In asking for a marvellous manifestation of the Father
I had shown my lack of faith.
Was I willing to go beyond appearances and believe,
that One sees the face of the Father, the LORD who is faithful,
only if one can see in the Son, the Suffering Servant
who despite all appearances reveals the Father’s love?
This was especially difficult to understand
since He himself had pleaded with the Father
to be rescued from impending death.
The faithfulness of the Father is to be understood
not so much as a God who rescues us
from situations that we deem unpleasant and inconvenient,
but rather as a God who refuses to give up
on those whom He has fashioned in His own image and likeness.
He does so by constantly drawing our attention to the fact
that we have forgotten it.
This is the paradigm for forgiveness.
It is a process that begins with ourselves.
Self-fixation occurs when we are so inward looking
that we only see ourselves as deeply flawed,
and unable to accept our limitations.
We get caught up in the process of “becoming”
forgetting that we already “are.”
Elementary logic will tell us that what we ARE, we cannot “become”.
There is only a lost sense of awareness
which can and must be recovered.
In becoming a person like us in all things
Jesus identifies himself with the suffering self within us.
He asks us to behold him in it
and in so doing receive like him
the power to transcend it.
and so share the Father’s glory.
To forgive ourselves is nothing less
than an anamnesis, a recalling of who we truly are,
choosing like the LORD not to call our sins to mind,
since in the words of the prophet Jeremiah
this is the way the LORD himself forgives us.
Curiously enough this is the way in which we “know” the LORD” . .
We know the LORD for who he truly is
when we experience his forgiveness
and know ourselves as we truly are.
Forgiveness makes Knowledge congruent with Love.
Forgiveness is an act of faith through which
we continue to believe in our innate goodness
even when faced with our own brokenness
simply because the LORD is faithful, even if we are unfaithful.
By extension it is also the act of faith
which makes us believe in the innate goodness of others
thus becoming harbingers for peace and reconciliation.
How true it is, that we can only love our neighbour
as our other SELF.
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