6 min read

The Unfamiliar Jesus - Part One

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Jos 5:13-15)

The Jesus that Joshua encountered near Jericho was so unlike the God that he encountered in the wilderness the other side of Jordon. So different in fact that he drew his sword in preparation for what looked liked a confrontation whereby he may need to fight and perhaps even unto death.

How could Joshua not recognise Christ considering the privileged position that he occupied while serving as Moses assistant. He was present with Moses when God revealed Himself and so had first hand encounters of the manifest Presence, if ever there was a man who should recognise that he was in the company of the Almighty it should have been Joshua.

Actually there appears to be a very reasonable explanation for his mistaken identity and that is the Person he encountered at Jericho bore no similarity whatsoever to that which he had become so familiar with during 40 years of close encounters. Had the Lord stood in the midst of a pillar of fire I am sure that his reaction would have been quite different.

Because the Lord appeared to Joshua as a soldier and he himself was now a man of war it was perfectly natural for him to draw his sword and charge towards Him, maybe even with an aggressive shout as he asked the question “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” Jesus replies “Neither I am commander of the army of the LORD” The image was confusing but the voice he had heard before, no more proof was needed Joshua knew in that moment that he was in the presence of He who should be worship and obeyed, it’s the very reason that he asks what it is He wants him to do.

The Lord desires to reveal Himself not as the Christ of our imagination or experience but as Christ who was, and is, and is to come. It’s worth pausing at this point and asking the Lord for a fresh revelation of the One who sits on the throne, the reason being that if our image is distorted then our response becomes less than appropriate.

So let me ask you a question, when you imagine Christ do you imagine Him like this?

One like the Son of Man

Clothed with a garment down to the feet

Girded about the chest with a golden band

His head and hair white like wool, as white as snow

His eyes like a flame of fire

His feet like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace

His voice as the sound of many waters

Out of His mouth coming a sharp two-edged sword

His countenance like the sun shining in its strength

This was John’s experience while on the Isle of Patmos which he describes in Revelation. His vision was not that of the Christ of his imagination but a revelation of the ascended Christ in all of His glory and splendour. 

It is worth noting his response, this is how he describes it

“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead”

It is only as He heard the Lords voice did he fully realise who it was that he was seeing.

He then laid His right hand on me, saying to me…..

Our worship, our intercession, our assignment are all drawn into sharp focus when we obtain a revelation that is not distorted by our imagination or history.

Look at this sequence:-

I WAS in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (a daily continuous state).

I HEARD behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.

I TURNED to see the voice that spoke with me.

I SAW One like the Son of Man.

When meditating upon this portion of Scripture I was struck by the fact that John turned to see the voice that spoke with him and not necessarily the person himself.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he says “For now we see through a glass, darkly” meaning he could not rely upon what he thought he was seeing.

Jesus however gave us the solution to our limited perspective when He said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”.

Look at these examples of when Jesus came in an unfamiliar way and you will see the same scenario being played out….

Matthew 14:25-27

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

What they saw was a ghost but once they heard the voice He became the Lord who rescue from a raging storm.

John 20:14-16

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

What Mary saw was a gardener but once she heard His voice her grief and despair were turned to hope and joy.

Luke 24:28-31

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

……..Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight……

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

The brief account in Mark’s gospel indicates that Jesus appeared to the disciples in an unfamiliar form causing the disciples to conclude that this  was a mere stranger that had joined them on their walk as well as sitting at their table. However as He talked and they recognised His voice their disillusionment and shattered dreams were restored to lasting Messianic faith.

(Luke 24:36 John 20:19–23; Acts 1:3–5; 1 Cor. 15:5)

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

There eyes saw a spirit that just walked through the walls but as He talked their doubt was replaced with the realisation He was alive.

John 21:3-7

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

The disciples who had been with Jesus every day for over three years did not realise the person standing on the shore was Jesus but upon hearing His voice their hopeless future was filled with destiny and purpose.

The Lord wants to reveal Himself not as the Christ of our imagination or past experience but as he truly is. I believe there are days ahead that the Lord will come in ways that are totally different to that of our past and if we don’t recognise Him we may draw our sword and prepare to fight rather than fall down at His feet and worship.

We need to hear His voice because it truly is the only way we can know it is definitely Him and once convinced there can only be one response that is allow His Kingdom to come and His will to be done no matter what it looks like.

If Jesus comes in an unfamiliar form His voice will never change we will still know Him?

What if He came as a ghost? (Matt 14:26)

What if He looked like a gardener? (John 20:15)

What if He were a stranger on a walk or guest at your dinner table? (Luke 24:30-31)

What if He were a spirit that walked through walls? (Luke 24:36-37)

What if He were a customer wanting to buy some fish? (John 21:4-5)

No matter what His appearance, His voice will never change, make a note to self today - Listen for His voice no matter what the situation looks like.