Gazing into the Face of Yeshua Part 3
We are spending several weeks looking at an experience in prayer quite different from that of intercession. Probably the best example of this type of prayer is found in glimpses we have of the life of Mary of Bethany in the gospels.
We saw in Luke 10 that Yeshua not only commended Mary for what she was doing, but also declared that what she was doing was “the one thing” that was necessary.
What was she doing? She was sitting at Yeshua’s feet, directly experiencing Him, rather than merely hearing about what He was like through a book, a tape, a speaker or a friend’s account of Him.
We need to picture her drinking in all His words as He was teaching. In addition to hearing His words, Mary was observing His facial expression, His gestures, how He interacted with His disciples and with the servants in her house. All her attention was focused on Him.
In this class Yeshua Himself was the textbook. We could say that Mary was literally “studying” Him, letting the force of His personality and His teaching wash through her. She was in a sense gazing on His heart.
This activity is the “one thing” that Yeshua was speaking of in Luke 10. It is the direct experience of the force of His words and of His person–His heart, if you will.
This probably sounds quite foreign to many Christians in our day, especially folks like me who grew up spiritually in churches that emphasized the study and meditation of the written Word of God, rather than what was termed “mystical” experiences.
I want to make very clear that in no way do I intend to diminish the position of the written Word of God in the life of the believer. In fact, I would say that the better one knows the Word of God, the greater that person’s potential is for experiencing deep transformation through the kind of prayer Mary of Bethany represents.
But before we look at how one goes about practicing that kind of prayer, let’s look a little further into scripture to see if we can begin to understand why Yeshua said this activity was the one thing necessary.
Let’s start with John 3:16. According to this verse, what do we receive when we come to faith in Yeshua?
First, we shall not perish–that is, our eternal destiny will not be the Lake of Fire or hell. And second, we shall have “everlasting life.”
We know from other parts of scripture that “everlasting life” is not simply “living forever.” Every human soul will continue to exist after it departs this earth, though not all will go to live in the presence of God.
Later in John, in the 17th chapter, verse 3, Yeshua defines “everlasting life” for us, as He is praying for His disciples right before His arrest.
He says that everlasting life is “knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” If we look at the underlying Greek, we will find that the kind of “knowing” He is talking about here is a deep intimacy—not a superficial acquaintance.
Part of the good news of the gospel message is that we can live this everlasting life right now, if we are in covenant with Yeshua. Right now we can intimately know God. And right now we can intimately know His Son, Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
Obviously intimacy within any relationship is something that needs to develop over a period of time and through many circumstances. How do we develop intimacy with God?
Certainly, we can learn a lot about God from scripture. I don’t think Yeshua was implying in Luke 10 that scripture is unnecessary or irrelevant. He said on another occasion that not the smallest letter of the written Word of God would pass away until all of it was fulfilled. That affirms the importance of the Word.
Furthermore, Yeshua lived in a day where most Jewish people had memorized large portions of scripture as children. Even young girls typically memorized significant portions of Torah and all the Psalms and Proverbs.
So maybe Yeshua kind of took for granted that anyone who was serious about pursuing God would already have a basic acquaintance with the written Word. And much of Yeshua’s teaching was actually an exposition or a revelation of what God already said about Himself through the Word of God.
But in addition to revealing Himself to us by His written Word, God also reveals Himself to us even today by His Spirit.
In John 14:26-23 Yeshua tells His disciples that though the world will not see Him, they, His disciples, will see Him. He says (speaking of the time after His resurrection) that He will disclose Himself to those who are obeying Him in love.
He also says in John 16:12-14 that the Holy Spirit will give us the words that Yeshua could not tell us while He was on earth. Part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to reveal Yeshua to us—make Him real to us.
In fact Ephesians 1:17 speaks of the Holy Spirit’s ministry as “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,” referring to Yeshua and the Father.
Mary of Bethany could sit in front of Yeshua and experience Him when He came to her house. But today, Yeshua is physically in Heaven. How do we go about experiencing Him directly today?
Next week, we will begin to answer that question, starting with a look at Psalm 27:4.