A friend on FB was blasted when she decried another movie about a girl who died and went to heaven, and then came back again to make millions on the story. This latest movie is being put together by T.D. Jakes. We should not be surprised that Jakes wants to cash in on the new wave of heavenly tourism that is sweeping the nation.
These stories are basically the same: person dies, goes to heaven, sees Jesus riding a pink orangutang, or some such nonsense and then they return from heaven where the next sound heard is that of the cash register. Never mind that the Apostle Paul was caught up into the third heaven, and said it was unlawful for any man to speak of what he saw.
The real issue here is that far too many people want to be taken in with this idea of seeing Jesus. Yet, the New Testament rarely talks about us “seeing Him.” It is far more concerned with us “hearing Jesus.” Please don’t think that I mean hearing Him audibly, as in, “Jesus was talking to me today…” That is right up T.D. Jakes alley, but not for those seeking to actually follow Jesus.
We are to hear Him through the preaching and teaching of God’s word. We get a real clear example of that when we find Jesus on the road to Emmaus with his two disciples.
What stands out to me the most is the reality that their eyes were restrained from seeing Jesus. The real question is why would God restrain their eyes? Should not these two have been given the opportunity to see the risen Savior as He was? Why would God keep this truth from them?
The simple answer is that it was far more important for the two disciples to “hear” the words of Christ, than to see Him. This is an astronomical truth that we need to hear in our day for several reasons. First, we must remember that our God is a God of the spoken word. God spoke creation into existence and gives His word by speaking it through the prophet and apostles as they recorded it in the Bible. God told Moses to speak to the rock in Numbers 20, so that the people would have water. Moses ended up striking the rock. This was disrespectful to God and was the reason Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter the promised land.
God even requires the Israelites to read the Hebrew scriptures aloud to the people every seven years in Deuteronomy 31. This is so the people would hear the word and be reminded of it.
We also see Jesus speaking many times that resulted in healings. He spoke to Lazarus who died in raising Him up from the dead. He spoke to the storm to calm it. He spoke in rebuking the demons. All this is because God is a God of the spoken word (and why preaching is so vital to the life of the body).
This how He chooses to communicate to us, to the point that when the word of God is faithfully preached, we not only hear God’s word, we hear Jesus in a spiritual sense (Romans 10:14ff).
Back to the men on the road to Emmaus. The second reason they were kept from seeing Jesus for who He was is so that they would hear what He had to say. It was far more important that they heard His words as they walked together than it was that they see Him. What is spoken is far more important than seeing. I guess we could say that this reality trumps the bad cliche: “seeing is believing.” No, hearing is believing.
Jesus would rather we hear Him than see Him. I think this is why He was always saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is also why on the Mount of Transfiguration, when God the Father spoke about Christ, He said: “This is my Son, hear Him!”
Will we see Jesus in glory when He finally takes us home? Only if we hear Him on this side of glory. Let’s not waste our time with silly books and movies about people going to heaving and coming back again. They are just worthless fables.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9).