I’m doing verse analysis Bible study with a small group of women on Sunday mornings. This Sunday the verse is I Peter 1:8: Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
This is the mystery we live. How do we begin to understand this? God’s people can love Jesus with love beyond words and full of glory. Impossible to explain, but possible to experience.
How do I live this mystery? Love for the invisible God comes as a gift, as a response to a request, and as a practiced choice.
The gift is the indwelling Spirit, given to every true believer at the new birth. With the new birth comes a super-natural capacity to love the unseen. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). When I believed the Holy Spirit made His home in me. He furnished the house with love for Jesus. A gift.
Fifty-six years later, I still have a lot to learn and experience in loving God. He commands me, calls me, invites me, to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I know this path leads to inexpressible and glorious joy, so I ask God to work His work of love in me. I’m easily distracted. I’m weak-willed. So I pray, “Jesus, enable me to love You as You deserve to be loved.”
Love is, also, a nourished choice. Though I don’t see Jesus visibly, I choose to see Him day by day. I choose to feed that first gift of love. A big part of this for me is the choice to meet Him daily in the Scriptures.
This is how it happened for me today.
I’m reading in John 21:1-14. Jesus has risen from the dead. He’s sporting a post-death-resurrection-body. Something about the substance of this new body prevents His friends from recognizing Him [see John 20; Luke 24]. I love Him that He keeps showing Himself to His people.
“After this Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and He revealed Himself in this way” (John 21:1).
Seven of Jesus’ disciples are out fishing, probably to shake out their nerves. It is disconcerting, I’m sure, to see a crucified friend, one you saw die, walking through walls, suddenly appearing, disappearing in a snap, and eating fish with you. The seven men fish all night, but catch nothing. As the sun rises Jesus calls to them from the beach, counseling them to cast the net on the other side of the boat. And what a catch. The net hangs heavy, pregnant with fish. This sets off bells and whistles and incredible joy. Jesus has done something similar before (Luke 5:1-11). Revelation! The apostle John tells Peter, “It’s the Lord!” and Peter jumps overboard and thrashes to shore. When the others arrive in the boat, dragging the full net, they find a charcoal fire going and breakfast ready.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord” (John 21:12).
“This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead” (John 21:14).
Jesus revealed Himself to them. He wasn’t the same and yet He was. He was still the Jesus who serves, provides, and can make the most heart-stopping things happen. He is still the One who loves their company.
And I think: this is not that different from what we experience 2,000 years later. Though we don’t see the Jesus who walked around in the flesh, He reveals Himself to us. He is the same. He still serves and provides. He can still make the most heart-stopping things happen. He still loves our company. No wonder we love him even though we haven’t seen him.
Live the mystery.