A couple of weeks ago, my friend Denise and I went to see Kathy Troccoli.
While there, we bought one of the Bible studies she co-authored with Dee Brestin, Living In Love With Jesus. I started doing it last week and there was one portion of it that left me stunned with awe and wonder.
Kathy and Dee are big believers in using art to bring passages from Scripture alive to their readers. At one point, they were discussing the apostle John’s breathless, drenched-in-wonder recitation in I John 1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at, and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
In other words, John was recounting his time with Jesus. He saw Him. He heard His voice. He touched Him.
Kathy and Dee then show Caravaggio’s painting entitled “Doubting Thomas”
I was just stunned as I observed that painting. The disciples were touching God in human form!
Why is this so amazing?
Think back to Exodus 19 when God summoned Moses to the top of Mt. Sinai so he could receive the Law. Before Moses could ascend the mountain, these were his instructions:
“Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day, the Lord will come down on Mt. Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up to the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death…only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” –Exodus 18: 10-13.
And what happened when God Himself descended onto the top of Mt. Sinai?
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a think cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mt. Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder…when the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”—Exodus 19:16-19; 20:18-21.
This is the very same God who came near to us in the Person of Jesus!
God…in all His holiness, glory, honor, purity, and majesty…became one of us and allowed frail man the privilege of seeing, hearing, touching Him!
*He washed their feet.
*He allowed John to lean against His chest during the Last Supper…imagine hearing the very heartbeat of God.
*His arms hugged children.
*His prepared breakfast for His disciples on the beach after His resurrection.
*He touched the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.
*He invited Thomas to reach out and touch the wounds on His side.
*His very Spirit now resides within the heart of every believer, closer than skin, closer than our very breath.
God came near…and graced man with the beauty and gift of His very Presence.
God came near…and He invites us to come close, to enjoy intimacy with Him.
God came near…and joy reigns.
Celebrate that today.