I’ve never seen Jesus with my own eyes. I wasn’t there to hear him preach his Sermon on the Mount. I live many thousands of miles away from where he grew up. I never witnessed him heal the blind, the leper, or the paralyzed. I wasn’t in the room when he said to the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus who had died, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” I wasn’t standing beside Martha and Mary when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” I live a couple thousand years after Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” I wasn’t in Gethsemane when Judas betrayed him with a kiss. I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on Jesus’ sham of a trial. I wasn’t a part of the great multitude of people who followed him on the death march to Golgotha. I didn’t have to avert my eyes as nails were driven through his hands and feet. I never heard the thud of his cross as it was brought upright, suspending Jesus between heaven and earth. I didn’t hear him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I wasn’t there when the sun’s light failed, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and Jesus breathed his last.
I missed a lot of things. I live far away from where they took place and a really long time after they happened.
But do you know who else missed a whole lot of things? The people who received and first read The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
They weren’t there as Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. They didn’t watch as the massive stone was rolled in place to seal his tomb. They lived many hundreds of miles away from the great earthquake that shook Jerusalem toward the dawn of a first day of the week. They never saw the angel whose appearance was like lightning with clothing white as snow. They weren’t standing beside Mary Magdalene and another Mary to hear the angel say, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen.” They weren’t personal recipients of the awesome invitation, “Come, see the place where he lay.” They didn’t race Peter and John to the tomb. They never held the linen burial cloths in their own hands. They weren’t on the road to Emmaus when the risen Jesus walked with Cleopas and his downcast friend. They didn’t have the opportunity to hear Jesus begin with Moses and all the Prophets, interpreting in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So many things happened during the forty days wherein Jesus presented himself alive to hundreds of people, speaking about the kingdom of God, eventually being lifted up and taken out of sight.
The men and women who lived in first-century Corinth missed a lot of things. They lived far away from Jerusalem. A few decades had already passed by the time they received Paul’s second letter.
But do you know what the apostle wrote to them in 2 Corinthians 8:9?
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
“For your sake.” You never saw him with your own eyes, never heard him with your own ears, never touched him with your own hands, but space and time are no disqualification or disadvantage when it comes to the Lamb of God. He did this “for your sake.” You can know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And do you know what that means for me and for you? He accomplished it all for our sake. We never saw him with our own eyes, never heard him with our own ears, never touched him with our own hands, but when we’re dealing with the death-conquering King of kings, time and space are no obstacles. We can know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ just as surely as anyone.
Though he was rich, yet for my sake he became poor, so that I by his poverty might become rich.
For my sake. I can know grace. Thanks be to God.