“To know and be known by Jesus.” This was the answer a friend of mine gave when asked in a devotion what she wanted to accomplish in this life. Profound, I thought, but what do those two concepts mean?
As far as “being known by Jesus,” we can look to parables about his return. I remember a statement in Matthew 25, which is spoken by the bridegroom to the five foolish virgins when they pleaded with him:
“ ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you’ ” (Matt 25:11-12, NASB).
These virgins did not reflect the qualities of Jesus so as to be identified by him and known by him. This forces us to look seriously at ourselves and ask, how much of Jesus would he be able to see in us?
But what of “knowing Jesus”? Paul had a clear sense of who Jesus was, and his relationship with Jesus gave him the strength to continually choose spiritual things over fleshly things. He states,
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8, NASB).
I think when it comes to knowing Jesus we need a real familiarity with the Biblical record of how he lived and what he taught. So much so, that we can recall the things Jesus said and the things he did, as if we had been witness to them in person. For example, when we see fresh flowers we can think of Jesus’ words to his disciples,
“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then… for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:28-33, NASB).
The flowers we see can serve as a reminder of Jesus’ words, but more importantly of the principle he was trying to impress upon his disciples of daily trust in our Heavenly Father.
A second example could be when we are discouraged with our preaching efforts, and as we think of Jesus speaking to his disciples,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20, NASB).
Jesus’ words and example should be near enough to our hearts and minds that his influence can be a living force in our life, as it was in the lives of his disciples. In this regard, it is like recalling experiences with a loved one who has passed away, who we loved so much, and who meant so much to us, that we still feel their presence with us each day. Their life continues to impact ours even after they have passed away. This is very similar to the relationship we can develop with Jesus; his life can and must impact our lives each day. However, Jesus is not dead; he is alive and active and aware of our struggles as we walk toward the Kingdom. He actively serves as our mediator, bridging the gap between us and our God. How much more then should he be a fixture in our lives!
Another component that can help us get to know Jesus is our common fight against sin. Just as going through a similar experience or struggle in life can make us feel closer to one another, our fight against sin can help us identify with events in Jesus’ life. Paul refers to this when he says,
“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death” (Phil:10, NASB).
This common fight against the flesh is one central aspect to our life which links us not only to Jesus and his fight, but also to all those faithful individuals who have fought against the flesh.
How wonderful then to be given the opportunity to come to know Jesus, through the words of Scripture and by aligning ourselves with this goal of overcoming the flesh. God willing, when he does return, we will have taken the time provided to study his life, and his fight against sin, which can help us to develop characters which are reflective of his. And to develop a relationship with Jesus, so that when we finally do see him, it is as our faithful Shepherd who we have come to not only know, but love.
Katie Dawes (Toronto East, ON)