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"Sir, We Want to See Jesus!"

Reading time: two minutes. Martin Luther talked about his experience at the altar as a young priest. The overwhelming sensation of awe at the responsibilities of a man like himself terrified him, and he considered quitting.  “Me? How can that be?” That’s actually a pretty healthy place to be! When some Greek people in Jerusalem told Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus,” (John 12:21) they meant it literally. I expect everyone in church would like to see Jesus. Instead, what the people we serve get to see is us. Hmmm. I’ve seen pulpit lecterns inscribed, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” At face value, that’s pretty intimidating, but my second thought is, “What a relief that they’re not counting on me for the hope of eternal life!” So how will they see Jesus in us? When our focus is on the Word of God, they’ll always see Jesus. A favorite Bible teacher of mine often used a phrase that I adopted myself when teaching scripture: “Hey, I didn’t write this stuff!  I’m only trying to figure out what its Author is trying to tell us!” My intention was to remind people that the Pastor’s role was to stand out of the way, to be a vessel for the Word, but not the Word himself. I look back on my years of parish ministry and regret the many times I got in my own way, but I seriously regret all of the times I got in the way of Jesus.  The daily journey of dying and rising, putting off the old sinful nature, being made new in Christ, and putting on the new nature (Ephesians 4:21-24) is at essence an exercise in getting out of the way of Jesus. I’m sure Philip, and Peter after him, could either one of them said to the Greek seekers, “I’m a close personal friend of Jesus.  How may I help you?” but that’s just bad ministry.  We serve best from a place of humility.  Daily confession and renewal is humbling.  The Word of the Lord is humbling.  The call into ministry is humbling. That’s why those quiet moments with the Lord as we begin each day, and as we begin each task, are so critical. The encouragement we have is that Jesus actually does want to be seen.  He makes Himself known in spite of us.  I hope that every day you will have the joy of knowing that as you stand out of His way and let Him speak through you, He is being seen. Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry?  Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry.  Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.