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February 20 -- "If Only Jesus Were Here!"

How many times have you thought or said this, “If only Jesus were here!” If only Jesus was physically present when I talked to someone about following Jesus, that would do the trick. If only Jesus was here, we could give him the podium in Washington D.C. and he would straighten things out once and for all. If only Jesus was here, the fighting going on in our community would end and the bickering in my family would cease. If only Jesus were here everyone would know how to live right. If only …

Well people, Jesus is here. The New Testament goes to great length to show us this. We are told in The Book of Acts that Jesus said to the disciples that they were to remain in Jerusalem until they were gifted with the Holy Spirit – which was God’s presence and power to continue Jesus’ ministry. The Apostle Paul goes on to tell us that the church forms the very body of Jesus in the world. And Jesus himself said to us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The fact of the matter is, Jesus is here. Maybe he isn’t here in the way we so often lament, wanting him to be physically present, but Jesus is among us and working within us to help fulfil his plan for humanity and the world.

Would it be easier if Jesus would come back right now in physical form? Sure, but easy has never been the route God chooses to take. In order to save humanity Jesus had to go to the cross and die upon it. In order to spread the news, all the disciples (except Judas and John) died martyr’s death, along with thousands of other Christians (and the martyrdom continues today).

Because of this I think it is contingent upon us to stop trying to take the easy way out and say, “If only Jesus were here.” I think that gives us all an easy way out. We can say, “Since Jesus isn’t here, there really isn’t anything I can do.” NOT TRUE! The truth is, Jesus is present. The truth is, we are filled with his Spirit. The truth is, we are a part of Jesus’ body in the world. The truth is, Jesus has promised to be with us always. Therefore, we can carry on the ministry of Jesus.

Giacomo Puccini was one of the greatest composers of Italian opera. He began his last opera, Turandot, as he was dying of cancer, and he died before it was completed. After his death, the opera was performed in Milan. Arthur Toscanini, the greatest conductor of the time and one of Puccini’s students, was on the podium to lead things.

At the end of the first scene in the third act, Toscanini abruptly halted the performance, laid down his baton, turned to the audience with tears streaming down his face, and said, “At this point the maestro died.” There was a moment of stunned silence. Then, triumphantly, he picked up the baton and said, “But his students have completed his work.” And the opera went on.

Let us dare to believe that we are called to participate in the work of our risen Lord. Let us dare to be his body. Let us dare to be his light. Let us dare to take on all the powers that thwart God’s kingdom. And let us dare to say to the devil, “Today, your kingdom is less than it was yesterday, for today we are at work fulfilling the ministry of our Savior.”

Let us dare to say – Jesus IS here!

~ God bless, Dan

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