December 29, 2011

He Is Not Here

Posted in Ascensiontide, Atonement, Christmastide, Eastertide, Holy Spirit, Incarnation, Redeemer, Son of God, Son of Man, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , , at 8:37 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Why wait you here to look upon His face?
He’s gone from Bethlehem, the house of bread.
Now broken ‘round the world, the Bread brings grace
Unbound by cattle stall and manger bed.

He stands not in the temple to amaze,
Nor sits upon the hill to bless and teach.
But as the Word is preached and voices praise,
His Father’s business o’er the earth shall reach.

Gethsemane does not confine His prayers,
Nor does the Court of Pilate bind His love.
From heaven He rains blessings on His heirs
And to His Church He sends the Holy Dove.

The Cross from whence He cried the end of woe
Is now forsaken for His work is done.
The emptied tomb dealt death its lethal blow.
Now life eternal flows from David’s Son.

Why stand you here to gaze into the sky?
This earth cannot contain the Sovereign Lord.
He reigns triumphant from His throne on high,
Till heaven sings with earth in one accord!

Copyright © 2011, 2022 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


When I wrote this in 2011, I was overcome by a phrase: “The manger is as empty as the tomb.” The concept quickly grew in my head, and I began to recount all of the places on earth where the physical presence of Jesus isn’t anymore. But it is precisely because He won the victory and then returned to Heaven to prepare a place for us that we have hope beyond this world. He tells us in John 15 and 16 that His leaving is for our own good and that He will send the Holy Ghost to empower the Church to carry out His work throughout the earth. We are idolaters at heart and would have latched onto His physical presence and completely forgotten His greater purpose, as well as ours.

As wonderful as Christmas is, and as important as it is for us to dwell at times on the various events of the life of Jesus, we must never forget that He transcends all of that, for if He doesn’t we are of all men most miserable! The poem title is a bit deceptive. To be sure, the physical Jesus is not here. But He is always with us, in the Spirit, in the Church, in the Word. And He has given us the awesome commission to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20). But He has also given us His promise that the Gospel will succeed: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Numbers 14:21). “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).


Written 29 December 2011. The interesting thing about the poem is that I kept trying to work in the line that got it all started in my head, and I found that it just didn’t fit.

I have made a few updates today, 27 May 2022. I often go back to poems I wrote years ago and wonder what I could have been thinking. If it pleases God to let me live eleven more years, I may revisit this again.

%d bloggers like this: