‘For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles – if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:1-5).’
How is it possible to ‘know’ Jesus who was and is the Son of God?
I’m inspired to contemplate this subject of ‘Knowing Jesus’ because of hearing a *sermon presented by Roger Ninnis on the nature of Paul’s Prayers.
Paul, of course, was the Apostle who said he had seen Jesus and he was as ‘one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:8).’ He was referring to his encounter with Jesus while on his way to Damascus with the purpose of persecuting Christians (Acts 9:1-9). It was then he was born of the Spirit (John 3:3-8).
After his conversion Paul said he was ‘the least of the apostles’ and he wasn’t worthy to be called an apostle because he had ‘persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:9).’
He had come to know Jesus personally because of His encounter with Him, but more so because of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Him (Ephesians 3:5). The Holy Spirit opened up the Old Testament Scriptures to reveal to Paul that Jesus was the Son of God (Acts 9:20).
For him it wasn’t just a matter of knowing about Jesus, but of having a dialogue (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) and a **relationship with Him (Acts 9:15). Jesus became his Lord (Philippians 3:7-11) and Master, and he wanted the whole world to know and experience the riches of being in Christ (Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:27). In order to preach the gospel Paul made himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). He dedicated his life to serving Him to the extent that he was prepared to die for Him (Philippians 1:21) and he very nearly did (Acts 14:19, 20) while on his missionary journeys. Tradition has it that he was beheaded in Rome on account of his faith, probably with other martyrs during Nero’s persecution of Christians.
The Revelation of Jesus
So, here’s the way in which we can get to know Jesus. We cannot do it unless He reveals Himself to us through the Holy Spirit. On receiving new spiritual life through the Spirit (John 3:3-8), our eyes are opened, and spiritually we see Jesus. This is a bit like the physical opening of Paul’s eyes (Acts 9:18) after he had been blinded by the bright light that shone around him as he approached Damascus. Miraculously God opened Paul’s eyes and he received his sight. He was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ and immediately he was baptised, and after some days with the disciples at Damascus he ‘preached the Christ in the synagogues that He is the Son of God (vv.17-20).’
Jesus came to the earth to reveal Himself (John 7:28, 29) and to bring His gospel of salvation through faith and repentance (Mark 1:15). He came to call a people into His kingdom (Luke 22:28-30; John 18:36) of everlasting life (John 3:16). His gospel was not just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-18). It was for all [sorts of] people (John 3:16). This was the mystery that had been revealed to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-7).
Jesus made it ***transparently clear to him. Indeed, Jesus came to reveal His very nature – the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah (John 1:41), the Saviour of the Jews and of the Gentiles. Paul became His bondservant (Romans 1:1), and as such through the enabling of the Holy Spirit he suffered and upheld the name of Jesus ‘“before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15).”’
Our Relationship with Jesus
Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and unless God opens our eyes to understand the word (Matthew 13:23) we cannot [spiritually] see Jesus. This miracle of seeing can only come about through the power of Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Through Him we have life (John 6:63).
Having been born of the Spirit, our immediate desire is to follow Jesus and to serve Him (John 12:26). He becomes our Lord and Saviour. This marks the beginning of our relationship with Him. None of this comes about through, or on account of any merit in us. It is all of God (2 Corinthians 5:18), and by His grace (Ephesians 2:8).
Having been transformed into ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) of the Spirit we no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ (vv. 12-18). In and through Him we are ministering spirits of reconciliation (v. 18) for bringing people to God (Matthew 28:19, 20). This is the prime purpose of our relationship with Him. This is how we know Jesus. He works through us and we are His hands, feet and eyes. We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), i.e., those who speak and act on His behalf. We represent Him. God through Christ ‘has committed us to the word of reconciliation (v. 19).’
We hear His word and we are His Sheep. Jesus said, ‘“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are One (John 10:27-30).’
Nothing is more precious than having a living relationship with Jesus and with His people. Through Him we offer up ‘spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5).’ He has made us to be: ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,’ that we ‘may proclaim the praises of Him who’ has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light (v. 9).’
This is how we know Jesus. We praise His name.
***An Easter Meditation – The Transparency of Jesus