That Time Jesus Rode with Me in the Farm Truck

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March 21, 2022

1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

CONSIDER THIS

When I was a teenager trying to believe and behave I developed an imaginative sense of the presence of Jesus. I worked on the farm in the summers and was assigned to the irrigation crew; a job I hated with a passion. At around fifteen or sixteen I developed an extensive vocabulary and expansive command of cuss words. I would cuss the heat, the mosquitos, the mud, my boots, the irrigation pipes, and even, at times, my cousin, Lee. It became a habit. As I would drive the the truck on the farm from field to field, I began to imagine Jesus sitting in the seat across from me. With this conscious awareness, I began to watch my mouth. My cussing began to dissipate. I didn’t so much believe God was going to get me for cussing as much as I developed a reverence for the presence of God and a desire to revere and not willfully offend him. It became a strangely real phenomenon. 

In speaking of the Ascension of Jesus, I love how one of the most celebrated biblical scholars and theologians of our time, N.T. Wright, puts it. He says something along the lines of, “Today, there is a Jewish carpenter seated in the heavens.”  Looking back on the farm and those days of riding in the truck with Jesus, maybe I wasn’t so far off—a Jewish carpenter was seated in the truck with me. It has me wondering something I less and less wonder and more and more believe—the heavens are not somewhere out there over the rainbow. They are all around us. 

The heavens are not so much directionally “up” as they are “through.” Through can be up but is not limited to such. I believe the heavens are a created dimension of reality everywhere around us all the time. They are not invisible but unseen. Note the difference. To say a person or thing is invisible is to say something about that person or thing—they are constitutionally invisible. It is impossible to see them. To say a person or thing is “unseen” is to say something about us and our capacity (or lack thereof) to see and perceive. The Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus Christ is not invisible. He is a real, physically embodied person who is unseen; however, he has been seen many times by many people, beginning with Stephen, the first martyr of the Church (Acts 7:55-56). 

In becoming a human being, God severely limited himself to being one person in one place at one time. In ascending into Heaven, Jesus went from a single fixed place on earth to a fixed place of transcendent omnipresence in the heavens and yet imminently local on the earth. In other words, Jesus ascended from here to there so he could be intimately and movementally present from there to everywhere.

Some of you are no doubt wondering, “How does he know this?” Let me be clear. I don’t know this. I am not claiming these things have been somehow revealed to me. I claim no special or secret knowledge. This is my best biblically informed, theologically discerned thinking. These are my tentative working conclusions, and as always, I submit them humbly and make them subject to challenge, correction, and refinement. 

So back to the farm and Jesus riding with me in the truck. I got to where I could almost see him. Something in me needed to have a sense of Jesus outside of me and yet near me before I could become more conscious of him present within me and at work through me. I think it is the same now. It’s kind of like this—if you say a person is everywhere but not really somewhere then it’s really more like they are nowhere—which makes them more of an idea or a concept than a person. We must get beyond our fuzzy notion of God as a nebulous spiritual force who is somehow omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. This is the basis of endless myths, sacred cows, baseless human imaginings, sinister power grabs, and ridiculous projections of human brokenness onto God. Jesus is a real person in a real place. 

In the meantime there’s this little jewel of a word tucked in at the end of 2 Corinthians 4. 

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The Holy Spirit is stretching the fabric of my imagination, sanctifying this most supernatural, most human dimension of our personhood, and causing me to fix my eyes on what is unseen—in other words, to fix my eyes on Jesus. 

The process also looks like this word from the Master himself:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for taking us into a realm of understanding even angels long to peer into. Save us from vain speculation. Gift us with an understanding that will foment love and cause your Kingdom to flourish on earth as it is in heaven. We want to see Jesus. Holy Spirit, would you grant us a purity of heart, indeed that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Have you ever seen Jesus? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S.  355/365

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The question: Have I seen Jesus? I have not as of yet seen him in the physical sense, but at certain times and in the actions and words of Spiritually filled individuals, I have perceived His presence. Your testimony concerning Jesus in the farm truck reminds me of times I have heard “a quite still voice” and heeded it, only to learn that to have ignored it could have caused me great injury, possibly even death. Yes He’s definitely with His people.

  2. I would define “see” as: having light enter the eye and project an image on the retina that is then communicated to the brain by the optic nerve. I’ve never had the image of Jesus projected on my retina, but His image is continually projected on my heart so that I behold the Lamb of God, not as an image in my brain, but as ultimate reality. I am often undone by the presence of Jesus as I sense Him both around me and within me. I’m continually looking unto Jesus as the author and editor of my faith and longing for His working in me to grow ever stronger, until I no longer block Him but fully surrender to His will.

  3. Much after the fact, I realized that although it was devastating dealing with the wreckage of my Dad’s life, there was something else going on that kept us from being sucked into the reality of the situation and enabled us to deal with the problems that kept surfacing–and right up through his burial there was always another problem to be solved. When it was done, there was a sense of “victory” that we had not stumbled but at the same time we were all marked by what we had just encountered. There was no “getting it right” there was only surviving it. I was finally able to let go of it all when I realized that I could let Jesus fill in the blanks because He knew me and He knew the mess we were walking into. The whole time I wanted to run, but I was made to stand and face it.

  4. Thanks, J. D., for this study. The thoughts and reflections you have posted have stirred my mind and soul and pushed me to consider a deeper perspective about Jesus and the church he is building. Yesterday’s Daily Text caused me to reflect as I drove to worship asking myself, if Jesus is an in-the-flesh, glorified person sitting at the right hand of the Father, how does that change how I communicate with him and how I worship him. As we sang some songs about our love for Jesus, about how he is exalted, etc., the meaning of those words was much clearer and deeper in my soul. It was one of the most meaningful times of worship with other believers that I’ve had for a while. Thoughts and questions just keep coming as each day progresses so keep writing as the Spirit inspires you. It is making a difference for me.

  5. Wow! We are wading into deep water here. I have no “working conclusions” – just some random thoughts I wanted to put out there for consideration.

    “The Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus Christ is not invisible.” Are we sure of that? Speaking of Jesus, Timothy wrote, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17) Paul concluded that, “The Son is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Yes, it’s speaking of God, but Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). As you noted in today’s Daily Text, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” I don’t think Matthew intended this only for some future, far off time in glory for the saints. To top it off, we have this little tidbit about Moses in Hebrews 11:27. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

    What about unseen? Matthew mentions, “your Father, who is unseen” a couple of times in chapter six (v. 6, 18). Yet, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18).”

    So, is this a quandary? A conundrum? It is certainly stretches the imagination! Eyes that can see the invisible. Eyes that can see the unseen. How can it be?!

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