Thursday, July 5, 2018

God Visits His People

"They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has visited his people” (Luke 7:16).

Jesus had just raised a widow’s son to life. The crowd responded by praising God and saying “God has visited His people.” The idea of God’s visiting His people has rich roots in the Old Testament. The prophets had often said that in the last days God would visit His people. When John the Baptist was born, his father had sung “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68).

The verb to visit is related to the Greek noun episkopos. It is composed of two parts. Skopos comes into English as scope, as in telescope and microscope. Epi simply intensifies the meaning of the word, so that an episcope is something you might use to look at something very closely. The word episkopos comes into English as episcopal, because the New Testament word for bishop is episkopos.

A bishop is an overseer, one who watches over the church under his care. He visits his parishioners, checking up on them, making sure everything is going well, and providing comfort and encouragement, and rebuke if needed. The pastor-elder is to bring something of the presence of Christ into the place of need, because the highest model of the role of the bishop is God Himself.

Jesus is called a Bishop in 1 Peter 2:25: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer [Bishop] of your souls.” He exercised the classic role of the bishop when He visited a village called Nain. He visited a woman in the midst of her grief. He visited the funeral, and He visited the dead man and brought him back to life.

In this act, the people did not simply recognize the visit of an itinerant preacher or traveling evangelist. They understood that this represented the visitation of God. Thus, the crowd at Nain was saying that God had come to bishop His people. The Bishop had come to care for them.

Christ has promised that He will continue to play the role of the Bishop of your soul. If you are in need this day, go to Him in prayer. God is alert to the cries of His people, and He promises that eventually He will wipe away every tear from your eyes.