If you could be any Bible character, who would you want to be? Daniel in the lion’s den? David felling Goliath? Adam in the garden? Moses at the burning bush? Abraham counting the stars?
Did you know that Jesus said those Bible characters wished they could be you?
Jesus’ disciples had no idea that they were “Bible characters.” They thought they were ordinary, not-famous people, and that the Old Testament heroes they read about were “Bible characters.” And then in one of those rare and precious moments that Jesus got to talk with them “privately,” He whispered this bombshell of a blessing to them:
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23b-24.)
In other words, “Don’t miss this. Your life right now is so exciting, that Abraham and Moses and David and Solomon and Elijah would wish they could be you!” Why? Because you get to see Jesus.
OK, great for those twelve lucky guys. We all wish we could be them, right?
But later, Jesus said two more startling things. The first we’ve already talked about when we spoke of the Holy Spirit: that it’s better to have access to the Holy Spirit, like we do now, than to have Jesus physically on the earth, like the disciples did then. And the second is yet another blessing.
It’s the blessing He spoke over you.
Thomas wanted life to be fair. His ten friends had gotten to see Jesus alive from the dead, and he said he wouldn’t believe this whole resurrection thing unless he got to see and touch Jesus too.
So Jesus showed up. He gave Thomas exactly what he had so demandingly asked for, and then He put a stop to any more people saying, “That’s not fair! They got to see Jesus alive from the dead and I didn’t! I’m not going to believe unless I get to see it too!”
Jesus looked right through the ages and pages of history, and spoke a blessing over you:
“Thomas, you believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29)
The disciples were blessed more than the kings like David and the prophets like Moses, because they got to see Jesus.
We are blessed at least as much as the disciples, because we have heard the completed story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and we believe in Him, even though we haven’t gotten to see Him in that physical way. We’re included!
So let’s take a look at what we have that is better than what the prophets and the kings had.
- We have friendship with Jesus. It’s a big deal to believe we have something Moses would have envied us for. Moses, as we discussed when we talked about “seeing God“, had pretty awesome experiences with God. He was known as “God’s friend.” Or rather, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend ” (Exodus 33:11). Their two-way communication, and God speaking to Moses, was what made Moses His “friend.” Jesus made His friendship accessible to all of us: “You are My friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). And again, the sign of His friendship was revelation: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you” (verse 15). Now, after Jesus returned to His Father’s right hand in heaven, all of us who believe in Him and obey Him are His friends as He reveals Himself to us by the Holy Spirit. And what we have by the Spirit is better, far better, than what Moses had by the law. Our two-way, intimate, ceaseless, communication and communion with the Holy Spirit is more intimate, more helpful, more comforting, more glorious, more near and close and personal (by far!) than what Moses had when he spoke to God “face to face as a man speaks to his friend.”
- We have what Jesus had. The Holy Spirit who descended upon Jesus from the Father in the form of a dove at His baptism is the same Holy Spirit Jesus has now poured out on us. We have the same way of being intimate with God that Jesus had while He was on the earth. While Jesus was human in flesh on the earth, He heard from and spoke to and communed with and communicated with His Father through the Holy Spirit. He received power from His Father through the Holy Spirit. He modelled what our life should look like on the earth, as a human, in flesh, filled with the Holy Spirit. He had no difficulty hearing from God! He always did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19), and He saw what His Father was doing by the Spirit. His hearing and His seeing came from the Spirit. If Jesus was not pitiable on the earth, neither are we. If Jesus was not alone or lonely from His Father on the earth, neither are we. If Jesus could commune and converse and communicate with His Father all day long and all night long, so can you and so can I. What Jesus had is what we have.
- We have sonship. What we have is more than what the prophets have, because what we have is what the Son had. We are called “sons of God” and the Spirit we have been given is “the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Romans 8:15). One of the Holy Spirit’s primary assignments is to teach us to relate to God the way Jesus related to Him, as a beloved Son, not as a fearful orphan or slave (Galatians 4:7). In a world where sons inherited and stayed in the family forever while daughters didn’t, God called both the men and women who believed in Jesus by the privileged title of “sons” (Galatians 3:26). And one of the many privileges of being a son is getting to talk with our Father. If the prophets had visions and dreams, we can have more (Joel 2:28-29), and the Bible promises that, young and old, male and female, we will (Acts 2:17-18). If the prophets conversed with God, we can converse with Him more. If the prophets could hear from Him, we can hear from Him more. Because the intimacy of sonship is greater than merely being a prophet, not less.
These mind-blowing privileges are why this age where we can have the Holy Spirit is better than every age before it. There is no limit on how much God can talk to us and reveal Himself to us, each of us, personally, in every moment of every day of our lives. He is always speaking, if we will listen. He is happy to answer our questions. That is what Jesus had, and that is what we have. His thoughts towards us are more in number than the sand (Psalm 139:18), and He’s happy to share with us from them!
As we talked about at the beginning of our discussion, when we get to heaven, our relationship with God will be personal. He won’t just quote Bible verses to us—we would be very surprised if He did—though I do hope He will say “Well done good and faithful servant.” He will answer our questions, He will judge our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10) and our careless words (Matthew 12:36), He will give each of us a name that no one knows but that individual and God Himself (Revelation 2:17). That will be very personal.
And we can have the same kind of personal intimacy and communication with our Abba Father on the earth, now, as the Holy Spirit “pulls alongside” of us throughout the day, like He did for Jesus. This is not just something God does to guide us in the biggest decisions of our lives or to heal us of the biggest traumas of our lives. God’s word never sets a limit on how much He can speak to us. He wants it to be ceaseless. All the time. He wants us more than we want Him. That is what Jesus had in His ceaseless dependence on God. That is what we have as we “abide in Him” in ceaseless dependence the way a branch ceaselessly depends on a vine (John 15:1-4). Hearing from Him, along with obeying Him and trusting Him, was part of how Jesus lived a life of abiding in His Father, and so it can be part of how we abide in Jesus too.
Peter was one of the disciples who was standing there the day Jesus told them they were more enviable than the prophets and kings. Later on in his life, he wrote a letter to some people who hadn’t seen Jesus themselves but believed in Him, the kind of people Jesus told Thomas were blessed, the kind of people like us. And in that letter, Peter expounded on the same idea Jesus had shared about what the prophets had longed for:
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
No Bible character thus far has had as much of God, or more of God, than is available to me and to you. Whether they saw manna from heaven or a pillar of fire by day and cloud by night or talked with God as a man to his friend, we have more. The Holy Spirit in us is better. We have the best part of the story, the part the Holy Spirit told the prophets about, the part even angels long to look into. If we envy Bible characters, we’re missing what is ours. The Holy Spirit in us is the best thing yet, by far. And again, it wouldn’t be fair of Him to say that if we couldn’t ask Him personal questions and receive personal answers. But we can. Moses could, Abraham could, prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel could, and what we have is better than all of that. Above all, Jesus could, and we have what Jesus had.
I wrote a song about this gift of Holy-Spirit-closeness once. It has comforted me many times.
We are closer than the children who sat on Your knee
As You blessed them,
As You bless me
We are closer than the leper You touched fearlessly
As You cleansed him,
As You cleanse me
We are closer than the woman whose hair wiped Your feet
As You forgave her
As You forgive me
We are closer than the one who grabbed Your robe on the street
And You healed her
As You heal me
We are closer than the twelve in the upper room
Closer than the women at the empty tomb
Closer than Thomas with his hand in Your scars
Closer than John with his head on Your heart
Because I am inside of You
And You are inside of me
Now and forever
Oh so securely
That I am inside of You
And You are inside of me
Now and forever
United with Thee.