To Know Christ for Ourselves (Mon. Jan. 10)

The word of the day is “know.”  In our reading of Hebrews 8:7-15, the apostle refers to the new covenant that makes the old covenant between God and His Chosen People obsolete.  The People of God had broken the laws of the old covenant, which was written on stone.  But the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) had promised that God would make a new covenant (vs. 9) that would be written on the heart (vs. 10).  In that new relationship with God, no one would need to be taught to know the Lord.  All would know him, from the youngest to the oldest (vs. 11).  And in knowing Him, everyone would know His will and ways.  His laws would be etched on their inner being (vs. 10).

Seeing is Knowing

This promise is especially meaningful for us in the season of Theophany, the revelation of God in the God-Man Jesus Christ.  The immortal and invisible God has come down from heaven so that we might know him.  The term “know” in Greek is derived from the verb for seeing.  To “know,” therefore, is “to perceive” (Strong’s  #1492, 76-77).  In this case, “seeing is knowing.”

An incident in the Gospel of John illustrates this thought.  When Jesus disclosed the secrets of the Samaritan woman, she ran back to tell her village that she had met a man who might be the Christ (John 4:29).  Many believed her testimony, and many of the Samaritans urged Jesus to stay with them to learn more about him.  Jesus consented to stay two more days, and many more of the village believed (John 4:40-41).

These new believers said to the woman, “Now we believe not because of what you said for we ourselves have heard  Him, and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).  This sentence uses the same Greek word for “know” as the prophecy of Jeremiah.  Furthermore, note that the Samaritans now “perceived” that Jesus was the Messiah because He had stayed with them, and they saw who He was for themselves.

“Come and See”

This story reveals a reoccurring pattern in the way believers come to know the Lord.  The believers see Him for themselves because He comes to stay with them.  For example, at the beginning of John’s Gospel, two of St. John the Baptist’s disciples approached Jesus and asked where Jesus was residing.  He replied, “Come and see.” They accepted the invitation and stayed with Jesus that day (John 1:39).

The result was that Andrew said to  Simon (Cephas, that is, Peter ), “We have found the Messiah.”  But Andrew brought Simon to Jesus to see for himself (John 1:41-42).   Likewise, Philip testified to Nathanael.  And Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  The answer was, “Come and see” for yourself (45-46).

Likewise, the risen Christ appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  But they did not recognize him.  When evening came, they begged the Lord to stay with them (Luke 24:28).  It was only then that they knew Him to be the Lord.

We recall other incidents where Jesus stayed as a guest at someone’s house.  He stayed at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), at the house of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), at the house of a “ruler of the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1-14), and the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-56).  In each case, his visit was the occasion for the residents and their guests to get to know Him.  When He stays with them, they “perceived” for themselves and chose to respond to Him.

For Reflection

Our study has found that to know the Lord, He must stay with us, and we must spend time with Him.  In this vein, Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you” (John 15:4).  The Greek word “abide” refers to staying in the same place, condition, hope, or relationship (Strong’s  #330, 160).  When the Lord dwells in our hearts, and when we reside in His, then we can bear abundant fruit for Him (John 15:4).  Yet, this mutual indwelling is also the way that we can know Him with spiritual perception.  Abiding is not a one-time or sporadic activity.  It is a continuous state that fosters our growth in the knowledge of Christ.  Such development requires that we spend time with Christ in prayer and devotion.  The more we “perceive” Christ in this way, the more precious our moments with Christ are to us.  Therefore, let us set aside time with the Lord each day that we might receive the blessings of getting to know Him as He stays with us.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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