That I may Know Him

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10)

Most Christians spend a great deal of time and effort in the academic study of the scriptures in order to get to know more about Jesus, and more about his purposes in their lives. This is all very well, yet it falls far short of what God wants. Our wise and loving Father in Heaven is anxious that way beyond what we may KNOW ABOUT Jesus, that we may experientially KNOW HIM and love him. Many of you listening me today will know a great deal about Jesus, I recon that some of you may know more about him than I do, but it is one thing to know about him, it is entirely a different thing to Know Him?

I may know a great deal about the US President Obama? I may know where he was born, where he was educated, what are his particular interests, what close friends he has made, what ambitions he cherished as a youth, what politics he eventually embraced, and what he thinks privately about his current successes and failures. I can know all of this – and more, and yet not know him? I don’t know him, and if I passed him today on the streets of Washington or New York, I would know him, but He would not know me! I would recognise him from his high public profile, but He would not recognise me. So what about Jesus? If you met HIM today, on the street, would HE recognise you? Does He know you? Of course He knows about you, He is omniscient, all knowing, but does he know you through relationship? That question I want to ponder today in this sermon entitled:

That I may Know Him

I am not speaking now of the kind of knowledge that is intellectually based, for we can know much about all kinds of things of which we have no experience personally, but I want to speak about an experiential knowledge of Jesus, and especially I want to speak about Loving Jesus, or being in love with Jesus.

2000 years ago the angel Gabriel visited a virgin, by the name of Mary and said “you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21) My Bible says that “God has given him a name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven things in earth and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father” ( Phil 2:10)

Furthermore, in spite of the fact that many have tried to blot his name from the pages of history, and tried to do so with the blood of those who called him Saviour and friend, his message, his mission and his memory live on. When I hear the name of Jesus spoken in “love” I know that I have found someone who has a heart and a passion for Him.

The apostle Paul had just such a passion; he says ambitiously in Phil 3:10 “that I might know him”. Listen to how graphically the amplified Bible puts his words …

10″ [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in the same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death,…”

How can we know Jesus like this, know him personally, know him experientially, and know him permanently? There can only be one answer, we can only know him from our relationship with him. I can only know you, if I have a relationship with you, and the more time I spend with you, the more I know you, the better we can become acquainted. A casual encounter will not result in relationship, nor will an occasional get-together, not even a regular visit. The only way that you can really KNOW someone, is when you LIVE with that person.

Nobody knows you better than those who live with you. You may be all kinds of things to all kinds of people, you can fool some of the people most of the time, and most of the people some of the time, but rarely can you impress or fool all of the people all of the time. Those who live with you will know your faults and failings, as well as your graces and glories; they will know both your hell and your heaven, and love you just the same. If you and I are ever going to know Jesus, we are going to have to live with Him, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks in the year!

Well now, how is this possible, and how is that practical in today’s busy world? According to the prophet Isaiah (7:14) Jesus was to don the title “Immanuel” which means

God with us.

While this reality was most certainly true in the lives and ministry of the early apostles, for He WAS with them, walking and working out his influence in their days and duties, every step of the way. Love came down at that first Christmas, and God became Man and dwelt amongst us as the Man Jesus. God came among us in the person of His only begotten Son, and left us an example that we should follow in his steps. But the Christian life, or the life of Christ, is not merely about imitating Jesus. Now of course we should seek to imitate him, especially before those who do not know him or know about him. The writer to the Hebrews could say “remember your leaders and imitate their faith” (Heb 13:7 ) But the Christian need not get too excited about “Immanuel” God with us, for that was only a temporary phase in the life of Jesus. Jesus did live in the flesh here on earth, but he does so no longer. That is why our glory in the Cross and in the Empty Tomb, should always be excelled by our glory in the Throne, which is where He is right now!

The Cross and the Tomb represent his past work, the Throne represents his present and his future work for us. Many have spoken and written at great length on the merits of the Cross and the Tomb, and I can appreciate their reasons for so doing, for we Christians owe everything to His Sacrificial Death and Resurrection.

Yet our focus NOW and in the coming days as Christians ought to be on His Throne, on his present work on our behalf. Jesus did not just Die, and Rise from the Dead, to Redeem the world, as I said a few weeks ago, that was when he brought us out; but he brought us out to bring us in. To bring us into Life, life abundant and life eternal. We can only ever grasp this kind of life, as we appreciate and appropriate our present possession and position in Him right now. As Christians, we are no longer standing at his Cross in need of mercy, no longer waiting at his Tomb, in need of life, those have already been given to us, we now sit in His Throne room and are in need of nothing! (for He has promised to give us what we need) We can say like the Psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want {for anything}” (Ps 23) Many of you will know that I have no Church or Congregation that pay my Salary, none of my Broadcasting or Teaching ministry bring remuneration from those I serve, but God pays my bills. If the rates bill, the telephone bill, the electricity bill, as soon as it comes through my door, I simply say “Lord that’s yours” and put it away in a drawer until he puts the cash for it, or a cheque for it, through my door after it. That’s the way I live and have lived now for more than 30 years. Am I poor, am I naked, am I homeless, am I hungry? – No, no and no again. If you know me, you will know that Jesus takes good care of me, and He does so, because of our relationship, and because he has promised to care for me.

And I walk with Him, and talk with him, and rely on Him and love him, and it matters to me little who knows it, as long as I know He knows it. Loving him, is not just about loving him in the good times, or on the good days, although I rarely have any bad days. He demands and expects our love in good times and bad. Loving him is about being faithful and true even when it seems difficult, and even when it seems that He is being unreasonable.

Think with me for a moment of that loving relationship Jesus enjoyed with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. You can read the story for yourself in John’s Gospel Ch. 11. Those days were not all good, those times were not always easy. Remember that Lazarus was ill, in fact He was dying, and his loving Sisters Mary & Martha, sent word to Jesus to come quickly. Did He love them? YES. Did He come immediately? NO. Did He come as soon as he could? NO. Did He delay? YES. Was this a Loving attitude? YES. Was Jesus being unreasonable?

No… but you would think so ….

When Jesus tarries or lingers in His response to your prayers, or mine, even when He seems to say “NO” it is always because of the relationship he holds with his children. God has no “special” ones, he has no “favourites” amongst his followers, He loves us all the same. Thank God! If and when he says No, it is because he is protecting us from something that He sees would not be essentially good, or best for us. Is that unreasonable? It seems like it, but the answer surely must be NO.

God sees further than we can see, and God knows best. When I was a child my Mum would say “Mother knows best” and although I disagreed, I came to an understanding in my adult years that she was right. Did Jesus say “NO” to Mary & Martha’s plea for help, and if so why? Jesus delayed the life giving miracle due to them, because of the greater impact that miracle would have through a delay.

Yes it is true that God can give me everything I need “yesterday” but sometimes not giving it to me, until “tomorrow” might just be better, for more people might see tomorrow than can see today, or could see yesterday. Some times in my prayers, God has held out right to the very limit of my faith. Doubt was beginning to creep in and I had to fight it,

to struggle against it, to endure and battle for it, and in it all my faith was strengthened and my confidence in my friend Jesus was built up. Jesus delayed the miracle for Lazarus, so that the greater impact upon the whole community in Bethany and much further a-field could be realized. What a miracle it was, it brought them up from Jerusalem to witness and see the man who was resurrected. Now Jesus does have your miracles in his “pending” tray, and many will see them, and give Him the Glory, but you may have to wait a little while longer. In doing so, just love him anyhow, and get on with walking beside him, walking behind him, and walking in him, its all part of the living and loving experience.

Now as I said a moment ago, we are not so much experiencing Him walking WITH us as did the early disciples, but we must experience him walking IN us, in the person and power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that makes effective the life of Jesus in every believer. I expect I could survive without my family, I could survive without my neighbours, I could survive without my friends and relatives, I could survive without my Church family my Brothers & Sisters in Christ, but I could not survive without the Lord Jesus. He is the love of my life, and the joy of my living. Without Him, I would be drifting like a ship without a sail, falling like a plane without a pilot, and heading for disaster like a vehicle without a driver. He is my Captain, My Pilot and my Chauffeur, He was given the wheel

of control in my life a long time ago, and I trust in him to bring me safely into the Harbour, to land me safely on the runway, and to park me safely at my Destination. That’s why I love Him.

Now I want to say a word or two about LOVE. I am regularly saddened as I observe what folks around me call Love.

Many in our Society today have lost their way in matters concerning the passion of the heart? Love is a word bandied about without much meaning and without much depth. We often say “I love you” and then walk out and slam the door. We say “I love you” with a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates, and then roar and shout at each other in our homes like barking dogs? We spend hundreds of pounds on Christmas gifts and before the new year we have fallen out with the people we bought for, and often wish we had our money back. Love, especially the love between a husband and his wife, or a wife and her husband, or between Parents and Children ought to be the most sacred, the most cherished, the most precious thing on earth. It ought to be fashioned and framed with the example Jesus gave us. I recall an old preacher once tell me, that his heart missed a beat every time his lovely wife passed him on the stairs. They were both in their eighties at the time. Love ought to be growing stronger not weaker as the days go by. It ought to be a real pleasure to speak the name of ones beloved even in their absence, and anything less is proof, if proof were needed, that love is not alive. What about how MEN love?

Can I speak for a moment honestly and frankly to the MEN listening me today. It is true that in the Church, the Women of the Church find it easier to speak the name of Jesus in love than the men do. Many Men have difficulty in expressing love for Jesus, the Man Jesus, but that ought not to be so. This is largely due to a inherent ignorance of what the Bible really says

about Love between Men. Many of our Churches even our

so called Evangelical and Charismatic Churches have failed to address this issue, being afraid to speak about homosexuality and homophilia, and mixing those issues, and being fearful of tacking the real issues with which many people struggle.

This is largely why most homosexual men and women avoid the Church for it has failed them and failed to love them for Christ? When is the last time you heard a preacher speak to homosexuals in love, and do you remember? Yet Jesus would speak in love to all who had been affected by the “fall” in Eden garden, and did so, and mixed and mingled with the same while he walked amongst us. In more recent times, I have been shocked and saddened by the breaking news that a growing number of young people, particularly young men, are taking their own lives today, because they have discovered that their sexual orientation is towards their same sex and not the opposite sex.

In many homes today the Father figure is missing, and often where this is true, boys will search for anything that can be a male role model, a male hero? This is why Fathers need to love their boys and lead their boys into adulthood. In all of this the Church has for the most part remained silent. It is easy for any and all of us to condemn sin and failure in others and to thank God we are “not as other men are”(Luke 18:11) but it is time for the Church to speak out and speak up for all who have been the victim of our fallen humanity.

All of us, in some way or other, to some greater or lesser degree have become contaminated and affected by the fall of Adam, and we all inheritors the Adamic nature, and it is grossly unchristian, unhelpful, unfair and unkind for any of us to single out some as being more contaminated than others. If we Examine our own lives, we will conclude that we all need the love and compassion of Jesus to care for us and to cleanse us. It is time for the Church to love the fallen, and lift them up, to care for the hurting and comfort their pain, to reach out to the heartbroken, and offer them help, to befriend the lonely and to genuinely and sincerely love them in Jesus.

Jesus hates all sin, but loves all sinners.

Now the Bible does have some very scathing condemnation of those who have, and continue to “walk in disobedience” to God; I cannot deny the Word, God condemns sin in whatever category it falls. Yet the Bible also has some very meaningful and purposeful exhortation to those (men especially) who need to understand the Love that one Man can have for another Man? It is unmistakable and undeniable that Jesus himself understood this kind of love, a pure love, a perfect love and a purposeful love. Jesus had a wonderful loving relationship with all of his disciples, they were all very much loved by him, Evidence of this is clear to us as we reflect on his conversations with both Peter, and with John who “lay on his bosom at supper” ( John 13:23) When Jesus asks Peter in (John 21:17) “Do you love me?” the word there in the Greek is Philio meaning “do you have an affection for me?” An affection between Men is not wrong, nor is it sinful, nor is it evil, it is Christ-like. Paul had a similar affection for his “son in the faith” young Timothy. And God clearly highlighted the bond of love and affection evident between David and Saul’s Son Jonathan; a love which David himself says was “passing the love of women.”

( 2 Sam 1:26) There were no Homosexual practices here, -rather, this was a deep and caring affinity and affection between men, such as is often common place in cultures and climates outside of our own.

“The stiff upper lip” reserved attitude of our own culture (both North and South) regularly denies us many of the more meaningful and lasting benefits of brotherly

fellowship and friendship enjoyed elsewhere in the Church worldwide. I have been privileged to embrace such cultures where I was hugged and kissed by both men and women in a strong Christian relationship that meant and proved to me that I was greatly loved and highly honoured to be in such company.

This is why I find it easy to say to the man Jesus “I love you”. I have no difficulty either in addressing some of my male colleagues and my male friends in similar fashion. In Christ I have become their Brother, and we share a common family. It is no more strange territory to me than embracing my two older brothers each time they visit me in Banbridge or when I visit with them. I can so easily say to both my Brothers and Sisters alike “I love you” and therefore telling Jesus that I love Him is the easiest thing in the world for me to do.


Knowing Jesus, is all about Love. Our Love for him is expressed not only in the way we speak to him, but in the way we speak with others. His love was not discriminatory nor was it preferential. He loved and loves us all the same. If we cannot do that, then we are not in possession of his life.

That’s not what I say, that’s what he says in …

1 John 3;14 we read “he that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”

You show me a loveless Church and I will show you a DEAD Church. You may have love for your Church, love for its Music, love for its Message, and love for its Man, (your Pastor or Priest) but if you have not love for all, then you have not love at all!

May almighty God continue to challenge our hearts as we examine ourselves in an effort to be Like Christ and to

Know Him and love Him Fully. Amen.