“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Just two short months ago I preached my first sermon as the senior pastor of Mission Road Bible Church. Many emotions competed in my heart that morning. Joy, excitement, fear, and thankfulness were a few. I will never forget that day. But there is a memory of that morning that will always be “engraved on that pulpit.”

As the music finished our executive pastor, Bob Taylor, gave me a very kind introduction. It was an emotional moment for him. His care for our church and me was evident. At the end of his remarks he informed me that there was a surprise waiting for me on the pulpit. Turns out he had done some research with my former secretary and friend Patti Schott in Los Angeles.

I’ve read of Puritan pulpits that had John 12:21 engraved on them. This is an account of an event that took place the week before our Lord’s crucifixion. He had arrived in Jerusalem and His fame and presence were causing quite a stir. There were some Greek men who had come to worship at the feast who had heard of the amazing Man from Nazareth. Finding Philip, Jesus’ friend and disciple, they made a simple request, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” The simplicity of that desire is astounding. And this entreaty captures the demand of the Christian pulpit.

In conversations with Patti, my desire to somehow place this verse on my own pulpit someday leaked out. She in turn passed along my secret wish to Bob Taylor and the MRBC elders. It should be obvious by now what happened.

When Bob called me up to the pulpit, he removed a notebook that had been conspicuously lying on it. There, in the upper corner of the pulpit, one of the church members had beautifully engraved those words, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

This gracious gesture will serve me well. It is a constant reminder that when I stand in that sacred real estate behind the MRBC pulpit, there is nothing more important than preaching with the aim of displaying the glory and wonder of Jesus.

Here is a picture I took of the pulpit with my phone right after I closed that first service…

For those interested, I have written a chapter in Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully (ed. John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson, 2011) on what it means to preach Jesus in every sermon, even though He is not in every text.

9 Comments on ““Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

  1. Thanks for sharing Rick! We are fortunate enough to be sharing some of the fruit of your ministry here, with Jeremiah being on staff with us. Thanks for your commitment to preaching the Word and showing us Jesus.

    P.S. Also enjoying your messages from Ekklesia at the moment.

  2. Nice motto plate.

    My dad used to take me when he’d preach in the Washington DC Union Mission. On the back wall, facing the preacher, they had writ large that same verse. Made a big impact on all the guest preachers who came there–and on me.

  3. May you have a Thessalonian Church. How blessed you are to have a faithful congregation.

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. what an amazing reminder that all that happens in His Church is In Him. These folks are loving you in Christ and that’s great

    I have read many puritan authors and bios but somehow missed this little bit about John 12: 21.

    This should be on every pulpit. What a beautiful tension it makes to preach Christ and show the people Jesus and not ourselves. Blessings

  5. Pingback: Weekend Links « Casey Lute

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