There were some First Century people who wanted to see Jesus. It just so happened that they were Greeks and were in town to celebrate a Jewish feast. Somehow they had heard about Him and found Philip and asked to see Him. Philip passed the word along to his side kick Andrew and they both went and told Jesus. Now relative to what most Christians believe today - He had a very peculiar answer.
I have had several people give me a rather peculiar answer when I have asked them if Jesus is here. Some have quickly said, "No He is not." Then when I questioned them further, they would say "oh, ... yes He is here in a spiritual sense, but not physically.
Now, as I can, when I get this response, I follow up by asking them if His spiritual presence is somehow inferior to His being here in a physical body.
Going back in time we can note that very soon after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, most Christians were still looking forward to the return of Christ. It appears some did believe that those calamities were Christís promised return, but they were few in number.
Earlier - When Jesus finished telling the story of the widow and the unjust judge he had made a revealing statement. He asked "will the Son of Man find faith when He returns?" The implication of His question proved to be a prophecy, for very few did believe He had returned.
Let us check just what Jesus said when He heard these Greeks were wanting to see Him. These verses hold a key to our "seeing Jesus."
Starting at verse 23. Jesus was about to be glorified. This came about through Calvary and His resurrection, but not just that. It also involved His coming in judgment on rebellious Israel. This glorification enabled those who did believe to literally see Him in each of these happenings, for they were able to discern His being glorified in them.
Verse 25. If we are tied to this physical realm and not able to discern Christ in things that happen in the now it is because we are in love with this life.
Verse 26. Those who serve Jesus through obeying Him and following Him are literally with Him and are where He is. (The spiritual notwithstanding, or though this is a spiritual situation, it is still literally true.)
Verse 31 A voice from heaven had just verified just who Christ was. He then gives a time statement relative to time of that judgment and said it was now. This being said by Him nearly 2000 years ago.
Verse 34. Then they ask Him about the Christ remaining forever. They were right for He was to do this and is doing so, for He is still here and will be here "world without end."
In answering their question He told them how to become children of light. This is how they would be enabled to see Christ in the now. The world would soon see the last of Him, but not so for those who would walk in the light as He is in the light. Yes, the world would see Him coming in the clouds, but they would see and yet not perceive that it was Him, and those rebellious ones who had an inkling that it was His doings would set about to explain it away. They have since convinced many Christians to look for another, still future, coming. This weakens the Christian community's effect on this world, for it creates lethargy and also means Christ was mistaken.
Verses 37. Even though Christ had done miracles among them they still would not believe. (So it is today. Even though many have experienced His touch they still deny He is here in His fullness.)
Verse 42. Some of the more knowledgeable Jews did believe but they feared men more then they feared God.
Verse 45. Jesus then declared that those who saw Him saw God. Some did see God through Christ, others were looking only at the works of God and still were blind.
New let us look at what Jesus taught earlier about seeing. The fact is - If you love Him and keep His commandments you are able to see Him.
I will skip some, but note the following.
Verse 2. Jesus taught these things and associated them with His kingdom.
Verse 5. A conditional promise/s that if met would enable them to enter into His kingdom.
Verse 8. Those who have a pure heart can see God.
Verse. 10 Another conditional promise. If these are met you are in.
Verse 18. Note: these verses all have to do with morality and obedience and they are inseparable from our being born from above. He speaks of our being the light of the world.
Here He speaks of the fulfillment of the law and says heaven and earth will pass away, but not until the law is fulfilled.
Josephus the First Century Jewish historian spoke of the temple in Jerusalem being "heaven and earth." That system was to end at the time of the fulfillment of the law. Christ was that fulfillment. Unfortunately, it is taught by many theologians that we no longer have to obey the law to get to heaven, and yes, they are right in a limited sense.
Prior to Christís advent and through Moses, the law was set as a means of salvation. However, no one ever has earned their salvation, but this was what the Jews, in general, had tried to do through obedience to it, and by going through their many rituals. They had also repeatedly rebelled and the mosaic system become very evil. This is why Christ destroyed that system.
Both the first and second commandment are essential, they must be obeyed. There will never be an end to the necessity of moral government.
Verse 20. Another mention relative to our conditional salvation. There are things we must do, after the fact. There are things that "without which" we cannot be saved, even though they are not our salvation. The fact is, "God alone is our salvation." If He says we must do something why argue.
Verse 22 and on down. Jesus sets a far higher standard then the Law of Moses. He repeatedly says ".. It hath been said .... But I say ..." And by doing so He set a higher mark.
There is no evil in His kingdom, nor tears, nor death, etc.
Now let us go back to Saint John three. We are still dealing with seeing Jesus in the now, which is inseparable from being in His kingdom.
This whole passage clearly states that the singular kingdom of God and of His Christ, is spiritual. If we are not born again into Christ we are blind to the fullness of spiritual reality.
Note: Spiritual reality or the spiritual realm is infinitely more glorious then this limited physical realm, still, the majority are now demanding that Jesus come back a walk in this dirt again, but for what?
Also notice that Jesus expected this Jewish teacher to understand His message.
Again can you see Jesus and His kingdom? Is He here in fullness, now?
These are spiritual thoughts, and have to be discerned on that level, for the bible also says that no man hath seen God. In any case, according to these passages, morality is inseparable from the way into the kingdom.
In addition - If we, in any sense, say that Jesus is not here in the present in His fullness, -
1. A question as to our being in the kingdom is produced. (This includes a question as to the effectiveness of His sacrifice, etc.)
2. Christ's integrity is compromised.
3. The Bible is then made out to be unreliable.
To be looking forward to some spectacular, fantastic, all consuming, future, glorious consummation, that is always yet to happen, is to trade fantasy for the realty of Christ's first century glorification, the actualization then of that long awaited glorious consummation, which was the end of a world and the arrival of another - revealed in the end of that system and the beginning of the Church.
These present day futuristic positions demeans His place of preeminence, for He finished His work and set down by the Father on His throne, then, and this goes on forever. (This is understood by noting the First Century Context of the NT's message.)
Seeing the fullness of Christ's kingdom, the fulfillment of His glorification on the Cross, in the resurrection, and in His judgment on Israel, in a First Century context, removes us from fantasizing and speculating endlessly about the future, and it is only this position that upholds His integrity. The future belongs to Christ, and we have been given what it takes to see that it is realized, more and more here in this life, on down through time.
World without end. This includes the ability to walk before Him in righteousness.
No whitewash situation.