Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Historically, Jesus Christ’s physical appearance remains a mystery. No one knows what he actually looked like. Nowhere in the Gospel accounts is he described, and no likeness of him of any kind in any form can be dated conclusively to the years of His l

In 1857 there was a 46 year old man named Jeremiah Lamphere who lived in New York City. Jeremiah loved the Lord tremendously, but he didn’t feel that he could do much for the Lord until he began to feel a burden for the lost and accepted an invitation from his church to be an inner city missionary. So in July of 1857 he started walking up and down the streets of New York passing out tracts and talking to people about Jesus, but he wasn’t having any success. Then God put it on his heart to try prayer. So he printed up a bunch of tracts, and he passed them out to anyone and everyone met. He invited anyone who wanted to come to the 3rd floor of the Old North Dutch Reform Church on Fulton St. in New York City from 12 to 1 on Wednesday to pray. He passed out hundreds and hundreds of fliers and put up posters everywhere he could.

Wednesday day came and at Noon nobody showed up. So Jeremiah got on his knees and started praying. For 30 minutes he prayed by himself when finally five other people walked in. The next week 20 people came. The next week between 30 and 40 people came. They then decided to meet every day from 12:00 to 1:00 to pray for the city. Before long a few ministers started coming and they said, "We need to start this at our churches". Within six months there were over 5000 prayer groups meeting everyday in N.Y. Soon the word spread all over the country. Prayer meetings were started in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington D.C. In fact President Franklin Pierce started going almost every day to a noonday prayer meeting. By 1859 some 15,000 cities in America were having downtown prayer meetings everyday at noon and thousands were brought to Christ. The great thing about this revival is that there is not a famous preacher associated with it. It was all started by one man wanting to pray. People have been seeking God, and seeking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ for centuries.

The text this morning is a familiar one from 2 Chronicles chapter 7, verses 14 through 16; “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” If we pray and seek God’s face. We have been searching for the face of God since time began.

Historically, Jesus Christ’s physical appearance remains a mystery. No one knows what he actually looked like. Nowhere in the Gospel accounts is he described, and no likeness of him of any kind in any form can be dated conclusively to the years of His life on earth. Yet, His face is the most familiar and recognizable, certainly in Western culture if not to the world at large.

There are many descriptions of who Jesus was in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke describe His birth in detail. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe His teachings, His actions, His followers, His prayer life, His many miracles, His loving compassion, His sufferings, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. And both Mark and Luke write of Christ’s ascension to heaven. All of the Gospels describe His forgiveness, which translates into hope for us all. But there is so much that is not written and not described. The Gospel writer John, one of Jesus’ first chosen disciples, one of the inner four, who described himself as the one whom Jesus loved concludes his Gospel with these words, chapter 21, verse 25; “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen!”

So why is it that we know so much about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, yet we do not know what He actually looked like? Artists from the fourth century to the twenty-first century have created moving images of Christ from infancy to death, in Spirit following His resurrection and scenes that foresee the last judgment. The world’s greatest artists have attempted to depict the face of Jesus Christ with vitality, power, compassion, in prayer, as a youth, in suffering and in death. Why?

Perhaps it is because throughout the ages, man has had such a strong desire to comprehend and touch the divine.

I believe God’s timing is perfect and has been since the beginning of God’s creation. The birth of Jesus fulfilled prophesy and came at a time when the future teachings of Christ could be spread throughout the regions. The Roman Empire was experiencing what is known as “Pax Romana” (Latin for Roman peace) during the first and second centuries, so it was relatively safe to travel. Good roads and highways were built between major cities, so news was accessible and available. Yet, Jesus Christ walked this earth during a time before photography, before artistic renderings. Why? And why is there no physical description of Jesus throughout the entire New Testament?

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