Through the month of February, I am going take up the topic of Christ’s presence in terms of our healing, initiation, and empowerment as men. His presence is not just an interesting side note to our lives. It is to be front and center stage. To move analogies from the theatrical to the athletic, Christ’s presence is the game changer.
His Presence in the Gospels
To make this point clear, I want to use one brief passage from the gospel of Mark: “They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he [Jesus] was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed” (Mark 6:55-56). This is just one snapshot of so many from the gospel accounts, all showing the electric effect Jesus’ presence had on others.
Massive crowds continually threatened to crush him. Everyone wanted to get near Him. He was the celebrity of that time because something was so different about Him. Although His masterful teaching could mesmerize listeners, it was His power that drew them by the thousands, especially His power to heal the sick body or the demon-possessed soul. In the ordinary human frame before them, something extraordinary was residing.
John explains what that extraordinary was: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). There it is. The extraordinary was glory, the radiance of God, emanating out and marking everything with beauty, health, restoration, and peace.
His Presence in the New Testament
This same theme continues throughout the New Testament in so many ways. The Book of Acts recounts the presence of Jesus manifested now through the Holy Spirit. And wherever men recognized and received the Holy Spirit, remarkable things started happening.
Or take Paul’s use of the little phrase in Christ, used countlessly through his letters. To be in Christ means that we are in His presence, connected to Him and transformed by Him.
Finally, listen to this startling statement by the apostle John: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I John 5:12). To have the Son doesn’t mean that we have Him like a possession. It means that we come close enough to His presence so that we can receive all the life that He has for us. It is the life we are so thirsty for.
Encountering His Presence
So how does all of this help us today as men? Perhaps a good way to begin answering this question is with a story.
Some time ago, I went backpacking with a friend. On the second night, we set up camp at an epic site, complete with pine needles to cushion the ground and a nearby flowing stream. The next morning, we spent some time in quiet by that stream. My friend ventured out onto a rock in the middle of it to pray. I chose to sit on the bank, watching the sunlight dance with the gurgling water. As I sat in deepening calm of that morning, I slowly became aware of His presence in a way I have never known before.
Perhaps the best way to explain it is that I felt a door open into another realm of existence: I felt the Presence. I felt Him who has always been there, attending and superintending the created order. John simply says that everything created was created through Christ (John 1:3). The imprint of His personality is on all of it. In all the noise of my exterior world and all the anxiety in my interior world, I had so often missed it. Yet it was always there. He was always there. Then I began to feel the compassion behind that Presence — His compassion, not just for humanity at large, but for me personally. He saw me, knew me, and loved me. That feeling of being seen, known, and loved became the game changer for me. It’s a feeling that has only deepened over the years.
But my encounter of Christ’s presence won’t be yours. He comes to each man uniquely. Yet His Presence is the same game changer for us all. In next week’s blog, I will explore how Christ’s presence is our healing as men.