“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:21
Christians tend to err into camps—the thinkers on one side, and the feelers on the other. But knowing God calls for both. We must be able to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?” That is doctrine. And yet, doctrine is not to be simply conceived of, but experienced by the believer. This is precisely what it means to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8). This inspired expression is a perfect specimen of the two in perfect harmony: experience (taste and see) and doctrine (the Lord is good).
Here at last, in our text, is the right emphasis, Jesus. For he himself is the great equipoise, encompassing all good things in himself, and each in its proper measure. His glorious Person is that which brings them into their divinely-intended balance. When all things in heaven and earth were united in Christ, we think that doctrine and experience were among the subjects of his cosmic peacemaking.
We may safely gauge our spiritual health by our appetite for Jesus. Some knowledge of our great spiritual privileges should whet our hearts in this direction. We are the envy of believing world history, for we know him who was all the desire of the believers who lived and died before his coming. The fact that we know Jesus by name and as having already accomplished his work is that which gives us the fullness of joy our forebears sought. The Lord himself spoke quite plainly to the matter,
But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matt. 13:16-17).
Peter applies it directly to the prophets,
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (1 Pet. 1:10-11).
We are in constant peril of taking our privilege for granted. Against this we must be always on guard. We are becoming worldly if we seek mere propositional notion on the one extreme, or mere personal emotion on the other. Our desires are ordered rightly when we want, above all things and in all things and through all things, to see Jesus as he really is. And when people start asking to see Jesus, we may be sure that the Spirit is working and God is getting glory.