8 You love Messiah Jesus even though you have never seen HIM. Though you do not see HIM now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. [1 Peter 1:8 NLT edited]
I was talking to a friend and asked a question of “How one could come to love Jesus more?” He stated it very simply; “I don’t see how it would be possible to love someone you cannot see. How can you love someone who is able to be known only as a historical figure.”
I could see his point of view, especially in a time when we don’t have admiration for historical heroes who may have had great characters, great words, or great deeds. We mainly seek to find the faults of significant historical figures and normally feel morally and intellectually superior in our humble 21st century arrogance. So coming to admire, respect, and love someone from the historical record of their life would be hard.
Love is not an act of the will. Our will cannot create the emotion of love. Love, like faith, is created by the story we tell about someone. A great interpretation of a person creates a great love. Without a solid vision of a person it would be hard to love. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the Lord Jesus to HIS people and create love for HIM in our hearts. (John 16:13; Romans 5:1-6)
People of this generation could imagine feeling emotions connected to a film about a historical figure. The film “Amazing Grace” could stir us to admire that William Wilberforce, more so than reading a book about him. If the person is still living like Christina Noble, who was led by God to rescue orphans in Vietnam then the movie about her amazing life “Noble” can inspire us to feel admiration and even inspire us in our own lives. We can have “love” for her because of her story.
So as one of the modern civilizations that have moved from reading and hearing great stories about great people, our generation could perhaps best connect with a historical person through films about them. So films could replace what other civilizations had in the recounting of “hero sagas” about great people doing great things.
We may need to connect with Jesus through films that seek to be accurate in showing HIM accurately in HIS character, words, and deeds. Now all films will have problems and areas of inaccuracy most of the time so it is good to also be aware of the actual historical record of Jesus’ character, words, and deeds. Some films on Jesus are heretical and not based on any historical records. They are just fantasy.
The most watched film on Messiah Jesus is part of the “Jesus Project” and has been translated into 1600 languages. This film is just called “Jesus”. If you have not seen it you could look at it at this link.
Here is a link to five other films that can help us begin to respond to Jesus emotionally and begin to develop a bond of love with HIM.
So for our generation, through the translation of the gospel into film we can in an imaginary way “see” Jesus. Now we have to be careful to remember that the person in the film represents Jesus and is not Jesus.
Now, we can use our own imaginations as we read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the actual historical and for Christians inspired accounts of the Messiah Jesus. So when you read about Jesus feeding 5,000 put yourself in mind as a person in the crowd who is seeing this event. Think of yourself sitting, hungry, and hot with a noon sun pouring down upon you. Then Jesus starts feeding everyone with just a few loaves and fish.
Read the teachings of Jesus out loud slowly and with emotional reflection while imagining Messiah Jesus addressing great crowds that you are a part of and have come to listen to this amazing prophet. Try to hear HIS teaching like you are hearing it for the first time.
Ask the Holy Spirit who has come to reveal the Lord Jesus to let you see HIM more clearly. as you read the gospels or watch the films. The hope for a disciple of Messiah Jesus is that our love for HIM will grow.
Now our love for Jesus is also impacted by our evaluation of our desperate need of a Savior and the greatness of HIS suffering for us. Messiah Jesus, makes clear that only those who see themselves in great moral debt will feel great loving gratitude when that debt is paid (Luke 7:36-50). Self-righteous people rarely love Jesus very much. In fact, it was self-righteous people who crucified him.
So part of us even having interest in Jesus normally comes from an awareness of a justified moral guilt in which our character, words, and deeds have fallen fall short of the standards of our conscience and God’s revealed will. Only when our own self-righteousness dies will we begin to seek hope in the Savior Jesus. Then we will hunger and thirst for righteousness when we see we are morally starved and bankrupt.
When the HERO Jesus sacrifices HIMSELF to save us, then our hearts will respond in love to that story. We must see Messiah as our HERO.
One of the reasons why worship needs to be centered on the Jesus story and the gospel is only as we sing, pray, and look at Scripture, seeking to see Jesus can it help us fall in love with Jesus more and more. It is in the context of worship with other disciples that the Holy Spirit has designed to be a place where we would see Jesus. Especially in the taking of the Lord’s Supper it is possible we may get a greater awareness of the presence and wonder of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:30, 31)
Where else may we get a glimpse of the Lord Jesus?
We may find HIM when we look at all creation as HIS great work of art. (John 1:1-3)
We may find HIM in the reading of Moses and the prophets seeking to see the gospel of Messiah Jesus in all the stories and prophecies. Imagining these poetic images and applying them to Jesus as Messiah can build our awe of HIM. (Isaiah 53)
We can see in the letters and writings of the Apostles a vision of the “Cosmic Christ” who was (before creation), who is (Preset in this world), and who will be (Returning to restore Eden on steroids to HIS creation).
We may see HIM in the reflections of our brothers and sisters who have sought to see HIM and love him for 2,000 years. Some of the best and brightest believers have left record of their seeking to love Jesus more.
Here is an example:
“The invisible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made comprehensible, the impassible becoming capable of suffering,” (Irenaeus)
This is a source to find more
We can also begin to always share our own testimony of what the Lord Jesus has done in our own lives. Hearing what the Lord Jesus has done in the lives of other believers can help to build our faith. Paul, tells us that this is a critical way to help each other in our seeking Jesus.
“11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you [while] among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” [Rom 1:11-12 NASB]
Ultimately, our love for Jesus will come by an encounter with the Living Christ. As we expose ourselves to the story of Christ Jesus, increasing our faith, and this producing love in our hearts, we also must “call on the name of the Lord Jesus” and have a spiritual encounter with the living Spirit of our resurrected and living LORD. This is a vital part of us having faith in Jesus and love for HIM. (This is a rational reason for having faith in Christ see :Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith by Clifford Williams)
Many times such experiences of the Living Christ will come in times of crisis or during intense worship. The Lord Messiah Jesus promised:
“20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” [Rev 3:20 NASB]
So to seek a spiritual meeting with the living Lord Jesus is a vital part of developing a relationship of love with HIM. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal Jesus to us.
The Messiah Jesus has promised
“9 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” [Luke 11:9 NASB]
So can we love someone who cannot physically see? Yes, but it is a supernatural event. A work of God that is given by grace. We cannot earn it, but we can seek to fall in love with Jesus by seeing HIM more clearly, even if for now it will be in a mirror dimly.
One day however this problem will be solved.
“1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and [such] we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” [1John 3:1-3 NASB]
So come quickly Christ Jesus that we may love YOU as YOU should be loved.