Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"The Best Blind Date"

Selections from John 1

1 John 1: 1-4

What comes to your mind when you hear those two words:  blind date?  For most of us, either

 delight or disaster…..more often than not, the latter.

      When I was in college, my roommate Fritz set me up on a blind date with a friend of his girlfriend

from back home.  It was just before Christmas break.  The Geneva College Player’s Guild  was performing

“A Christmas Carol” at the Bagpipe Theater.  So we bought our advanced tickets a week

ahead of time, and I began the process of grilling Fritz about this young lady named Kathy.  I must

confess, my first question wasn’t “Does she have a nice personality?”  Instead, I wanted to know

about her eye and hair color; her complexion; the lines and curves of her face….. and the lines and

curves elsewhere; you know, all the really important stuff.  By the time Friday rolled around, I had

formed in my mind what I thought was a very clear picture of this Kathy I was soon to meet vis-a-vis. 

I almost felt like I already knew her.  But alas, when we met the girls in the lobby of Memorial Hall,

boy was I surprised.  Kathy was nothing like I had pictured her!  And as it turned out, I was nothing

like she had pictured me.  That being said, I’ll leave it a mystery as to whether that blind date was a

delight or a disaster.

     Don’t you know it’s kind of like a blind date when we meet Jesus for the first time.  Someone who

has a close relationship with Jesus can tell us what He’s like.  We can read all the gospel stories

about Him.  We can study a stack of theology books a yard high.  But until we’ve met Jesus for our-

selves – until we, in a manner of speaking, encounter Jesus vis-à-vis -- we can’t really know Him.  At

best, we can only know about Him.  And more often than not, when we come to a personal encounter with Jesus,

and begin to develop a personal relationship with Him, we may find He is not quite like we had pictured Him.

      Following John’s theological masterpiece in his first chapter describing the person, and the divine

and eternal character of Jesus -- whom he called “the Word became flesh……as of a father’s only

son” – he goes on to show that all the testimony in the world is no substitute for meeting Jesus per-

sonally.  John the Baptist could eloquently describe Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” but John’s followers

had to find Jesus for themselves.  Andrew could tell his brother Simon about the one who is the

“Messiah (which is translated Anointed),but Simon had to be brought to Jesus to meet Him face-

to-face.  Philip could paint a word picture of Jesus as the one “about whom Moses in the law and

also the prophets wrote.”  But ultimately, Nathanael himself had to “come and see.” 

      What we’re about during this season of Advent is preparing to meet Jesus vis-à-vis; preparing to

ourselves “come and see.”  For a few of us, Advent 2019 may be the first time.  For most of us who

have come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, Advent 19 will hopefully be a time of

reaffirmation and renewal of that relationship.  Yet for all of us, we find that part of the wonder and

majesty of the incarnation – of God’s coming to us in human form – is that Jesus is a lot like us. 

Some of a monophysite view might cry out: That’s heresy!  But the truth is, as John is so intent to

point out, that while Jesus is the full manifestation of God, at the same time, Jesus is the full manifestation of humanity. 

That is to say, Jesus was fully human, just as we are fully human.  That is how we’re able to relate to God through Him. 

That is how God, through Him, is able to relate to us. 

Jesus’ humanity is what makes it possible to know God for who God really is. 

      So although what’s of utmost import during this Advent season is for us to encounter Jesus personally – to “come and see” for ourselves –

I’d like to spend a few minutes sharing with you some things about Jesus in advance of Your date.  I’ll tell you what I can.

  But things will become much clearer when you meet Jesus vis-à-vis.

       You will first find Jesus as a tiny, helpless baby.  One of the distinct pleasures of being a pastor is

to have the opportunity to meet newest members of the congregation when they are just hours old.

Moreover, we are sometimes given the blessed privilege of holding that newborn babe in our arms;

cradling them; stroking his or her soft cheek; playing with those tiny, wrinkled fingers; marveling at

the perfectly formed fingernails; sensing the baby’s total dependence.  And it always occurs to me: 

this is how we first find Jesus in two of the gospels. 

      Jesus came, just as each and every one of us came, as a helpless, innocent, and no less than adorable baby. 

Jesus did not come as a ready-made king with flowing purple robe; a scepter in His right hand; seated on a majestic throne. 

Instead, Jesus came into this world just like we came, from our mother’s womb; vulnerable; needful; yet undeveloped in body and spirit. 

What might this tell you about the Jesus you’ll soon meet?

      You will find Jesus at age twelve.  He’s at the temple with mom and dad for the annual celebration of Passover. 

But as His folks are starting off for the long journey home to Nazareth, they soon come to the blood-chilling realization

that Jesus is not with the caravan.  Remember how you felt when you were at the mall, or at a theme park, or at some

other crowded venue, and you looked around, and your little girl or little boy wasn’t there? 

      Mary was frantic.  “Have you seen my son?  He’s about this tall!  He has dark, curly hair!  He is

wearing a brown goatskin robe!  Last we saw him, he was right behind us in the outer court of the

temple!”  She returns to the city, and in the distance hears, as only a mother can, a hint of Jesus’

voice.  She bolts back up the ramp to the temple and enters the outer court.  There is her son,

surrounded by men twice and three times His age.  Jesus is asking questions and giving answers. 

The elders rub their chins, amazed by the maturity, and wisdom, and understanding which were

well beyond the boy’s years.  “Jesus!  Where have you been?  Don’t you know your father and I were

worried sick!  How could you treat us like this!”  The boy replies with a sparkle in His eye.  “Why were

you looking for me?  Didn’t you know I must be in my Father’s house?”  Mary’s face flushes redder. 

She’s ready to snatch up this rebellious twelve-year old by the arm.  But no, she doesn’t have to. 
Jesus willingly goes with his mother and is obedient to her.  No further argument.  No debate.  What

might this tell you about the Jesus you’ll soon meet?

     You will find Jesus again twenty-one years later.  He’s the beaten and bruised young man hanging

on the middle cross.  You’ll wonder, what did He do?  His supporters have turned on Him. His friends

have abandoned Him.  His mother cries at the foot of the cross, remembering how a devout man by

the name of Simeon said to her shortly after the birth of her son:  “and a sword will pierce through

you own soul also.” As her heart breaks, poker-faced soldiers stand by.  Just another day on the job.

      It’s not hard to imagine the rejection Jesus felt; His physical agony notwithstanding.  All of us at

one time or another – and worse yet, unfairly so – have experienced rejection; by family; by friends;

by co-workers; by one-time supporters.  Yet Jesus, human as us, tears of physical and emotional torment streaming

down His face, cries out above the sounds of jeering opponents and wailing loved ones:  “Father, forgive them,

for they know not what they are doing.”  Hours later, He cries out again: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

Then, just before drawing His final breath, Jesus cries once more with a loud voice:  “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

What might this tell you about the Jesus you’ll soon meet?

      We will all someday find Jesus, no longer the beaten and bruised man suffering under the weight

of injustice; but the resurrected and glorified Jesus welcoming us into the realm of eternal life.  Paul

 writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians:  “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with

the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead

in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together

with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.” What might this tell you about the Jesus we’ll all soon meet?

      Yes, I can tell you all about Jesus.  John the Baptist can tell you all about Jesus.  The evangelist

John, along with Matthew, Mark, and Luke can tell you all about Jesus.  The apostle Paul can tell you

all about Jesus.  About how He was born a helpless and vulnerable baby that night in Bethlehem;

about how He was an adolescent, called to obedience by His mother; about how He was a man of

just thirty-three, unjustly persecuted, reviled, made to suffer, and obedient unto death; about how

He is resurrected and alive, and will someday return to welcome us into His perfect and everlasting

Kingdom.  I can, and others can, to the best of our ability, describe what Jesus is like.  But when it’s

all said and done, like Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathanael, you need to meet Jesus for yourself.  You

need to “come and see.”  I pray that during Advent 2019, you will personally encounter Jesus, in

all His humanity, and in all His glory.  “Come to Bethlehem, and see, Him whose birth the angels sing;

Come adore on bended knee, Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.”  It’ll be the best blind date you

could ever imagine!  Amen.