How Jesus can appear in dreams, both literally and symbolically; appearances of Jesus in the bible; dream symbols for Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the central figure of the Christian faith, and many people claim to have a personal relationship with him today, myself included… but what does that look like?
Can we really encounter him today? Can we meet him in our dreams?
This article explores different ways that Jesus can appear – either symbolically or literally – in the bible and in our dreams today.
I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.
If you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and my 3 step dream interpretation method to give you a foundation.
- Biblical foundation for meeting Jesus today
- Meeting Jesus in dreams
- Real dream example
Biblical foundation for meeting Jesus today
The New Testament gospels record the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you have never read them before, I recommend starting by reading one of them before continuing, as they paint a foundational picture of what Jesus is like. You could start with the gospel of Mark.
The biblical gospels are a good place to start discovering what Jesus is like.
These historical biblical accounts tell us that:
- Jesus lived in Israel, teaching and performing many miracles (Mark 6:2)
- He died on a cross (Mark 15).
- He rose from the dead (Mark 16:1-8)
- Many people saw Him in His risen form (Mark 16:9-14)
- He ascended into heaven (Mark 16:19)
But what does that mean for us today? Are these just historical event that happened 2000 years ago? Did Jesus really rise from the dead and ascend to heaven? If he did, then it follows that he is still alive today – and there is potential for us to meet him in our dreams.
Before we explore how Jesus might appear, it is important to lay a biblical foundation for meeting him in his resurrected form.
Meeting Jesus after His resurrection
Can you imagine what it would have been like having watched Jesus die – then to see Him alive again? That’s exactly what the early disciples witnessed and recorded in their gospels.
One of my favourite bible stories is the account of two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, which can be found in Luke 24:13-35. This event happened after Jesus’ resurrection, but the two disciples involved did not yet know that He was alive.
- Luke 24:15, NASB While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.
Jesus came and walked with them along the road, and just talked to them like an ordinary person. He discussed recent events with them and unpacked the answers to their questions. At first they didn’t recognise him. It was only later that they realised that it was, in fact, Jesus.
- Luke 24:31, NASB And then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.
How wonderful to have that experience! To just walk and talk with the risen Christ. Isn’t that something that you would love to experience too? What questions would you ask him?
Meeting Jesus after His ascension
At the end of the gospels we read that Jesus ascended into heaven.
So, does that mean we can’t meet Him anymore? Thankfully not! There are examples in the bible of people who met Jesus after He ascended into heaven:
- John, the disciple, encountered Jesus and recorded his experience in Revelation 1.
- John was also shown a door standing open in heaven (Revelation 4), and was able to go into the heavenly realms to the throne of God, and encounter Jesus there too.
- The apostle Paul encountered Jesus who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. This led to his conversion (Acts 9).
- Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians that much of his revelation came directly from the Lord Jesus Himself (Galatians 1:11-12). In other writings he also insinuated that he was caught up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). And if it was not him who had this experience – well, he knew the person who did.
Therefore, we can see from the New Testament that even though Jesus ascended into heaven, it is possible for us to still encounter Him by:
- Him appearing to us on earth
- Us meeting Him in the heavenly realms
This is important, because it sets a biblical foundation for how we, just like the early believers, can still encounter Jesus today in both those ways – and dreams can help with that.
Meeting Jesus in dreams
Maybe you feel that you can only believe if you meet the risen Jesus yourself? That’s OK… you won’t be the first person to say that!
- John 20:25, NIV But he [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
The good news is, Jesus seems to enjoy showing up to show that he is real!
- John 20:27, NIV Then [Jesus] he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
I have heard Tom Doyle interviewed, who wrote Dreams and Visions (link below). In his book he shares real-life stories from his work with Muslims in the Middle east of Jesus appearing in dreams to people who don’t yet know him.
Ways Jesus can appear in dreams
I am also personally acquainted with people who have met Jesus in dreams:
- In some instances, Jesus appeared to them here on earth, just like he did to Saul in Acts.
- In others, they were taken into the heavenly realms and saw Him there – just like in the biblical examples I shared above.
- I also have friends who have seen Jesus in their dreams.
For many years I longed to meet Jesus myself. I had faith in him, and believed he was alive. I prayed to him and felt that he was with me. But it could have been subjective. It could have just been a belief system that made me feel good. I didn’t have anything concrete to go by.
That is, until I started recording and considering my dreams. Once I started doing that, I quickly realised that they were a doorway to the spiritual realm – and encounters with God! I realised that God was speaking through my dreams, but additionally, He was actually showing up in some of them.
Jesus was showing up in my dreams!
So, Jesus started to appear occasionally in my dreams. Each time it was slightly different. I can count these appearances on my fingers, but, as you can imagine, these were very significant occasions for me!
How did I know it was Jesus?
Well, in dreams you often just ‘know’ things. But, also, I recognised him as the one I knew from my prayer times, from reading the bible over many years, and from the relationship I had with him.
In dreams, Jesus can appear in two types of ways:
Meeting Jesus literally in dreams
By literal apearances of Jesus, I mean I was aware that it was him in the dream. He appeared as himself and I knew it was him.
To illustrate what that could look like, here is a list of the ways he has appeared literally in my dreams (plus links to some bible verses that refer to him in a similar way):
|The way Jesus appeared||Description of the dream|
|Light and peace||Jesus waved at me from a distance and said He was coming to help me. Then, unexpectedly, He walked in, and I just saw a blindingly bright light come in. The situation was immediately at peace. (c.f. John 8:12, John 20:19)|
|Overawing and prophet||Jesus appeared three times in a row. The first time I was overcome by His presence; less so the second time. By the third time I was able to stand in His presence. He placed his hand on my back and prophesied about something that would happen 7 years from that date. (c.f. Revelation 1:17)|
|Fire and mentor||In the dream I knew that Jesus was personally mentoring me. He was laying His hands inside my heart and fire was going through my whole body. (c.f. Matthew 3:11)|
|Lion||He came and talked to me in the form of a lion. I was fully aware that it was Jesus in the dream. (c.f. Revelation 5:5)|
|With humour||My car was flagged over by the police and I got out. Jesus met me. I recognised him because of His sense of humour. He sent me off walking in a different direction.|
|Superhero and rock||In the dream I was in a car accident. I thought I was going to die, but I flew up into the air. Jesus appeared in the air like a superhero, grinning, and caught me. His grip felt as solid as a rock. (c.f. Isaiah 28:16)|
|Spiritual being||Jesus came into the room appearing transparent. I recognised it as being His spiritual form. He sat on the sofa next to me and I laid my head on him. It was like car headlights were shining into my life as I sat there.|
|Childlike||Jesus looked like a young boy, and showed me some wondrous things. We walked through a wall to escape a situation.|
|As a man||I dreamed Jesus was in our house, very normally. He offered me some new wine. (c.f. Mark 2:22)|
Of course, these dreams are very precious and personal to me. I’m not sharing them to make myself look good, but as a testimony to inspire faith in what is possible for you if you start listening to your dreams!
If I can meet Jesus in my dreams, so can you!
I also wanted to show how each occasion was completely different in the way Jesus appeared.
Meeting Jesus symbolically in dreams
Jesus also appears in dreams in symbolic form – for example disguised as some other person we know.
Often, I have woken up from a dream to realise that I had been with Jesus – only I didn’t know that it was Him in the dream! This is much more common than the literal appearances that I described above.
Symbolic appearances of Jesus in dreams are far more common than literal ones.
The story I shared earlier from the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a good example of how Jesus doesn’t always reveal himself straight away. Sometimes he appears in disguise!
Why does He do this? There could be various reasons,for example:
- So we are not overawed by his presence and can have a normal conversation.
- To get a message through that we would not have received if we knew it was Him.
- To convey a particular aspect of His character
Symbols for Jesus: People
Here are some ways Jesus could appear in dreams disguised as another person – in the context of modern life:
|Dream character who represents Jesus||Bible passage that shows Jesus in this role|
|Your husband||Isaiah 54:5 For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of armies; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.|
|Your brother||Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,|
|Your boss||Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”|
|A friend / companion||John 15:15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.|
|A teacher||John 3:2 …this man came to Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”|
|A church leader||Colossians 1:18 He is also the head of the body, the church|
|A doctor / healer||Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going about in all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people.|
Symbols for Jesus: Names
There are also some common names which might indicate that the person in your dream – with that name – could represent Jesus. Here are some ideas:
|Adam||Jesus is described as the last Adam in 1 Cor 15:45.|
|Joshua / Josh||Joshua comes from the same Hebraic root as the name Jesus – i.e. Yeshua. N.B. Joshua could also be about taking your promised land due to the bible book of that name.|
|Chris||From the root word ‘Christ’. This name and its other forms (e.g. Christopher or Christine) could also symbolise someone who is a follower of Jesus.|
|Ben||Means ‘son’. Jesus is the Son of God.|
Here is a great example I saw from Charity Kayembe in her Glory Waves blog. In this dream, her brother Joshua represents Jesus: https://www.glorywaves.org/a-prophetic-dream-god-on-trial-part-i/
More about what people in dreams could represent…
Other symbols for Jesus
In my experience, Jesus normally appears disguised as another person when he appears in dreams, so he can interact with us.
But there are some other types of symbols that the bible uses to talk about Jesus. (Some of them can also apply to God generally.) There are many of them, so here are just a few ideas:
- Light (John 8:12)
- Rock, stone or cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)
- Vine (John 15:1)
- Door or gate (John 10:9)
- Lion (Revelation 5:5)
- Lamb (John 1:29)
Identifying Jesus in our dreams
The dream symbols I have mentioned do not always represent Jesus in dreams – but they might do, and it is definitely worth considering the possibility in any dream!
Maybe you are already remembering a dream that you had – and realising that it might have been Jesus. If so, go back and see whether the makes sense with that meaning.
Here are some ways to identify Jesus in your own dreams:
- Spend some time imagining what each of the above ideas could look like in a dream.
- Research names and symbols for Jesus in the bible and become familiar with them.
- If you record your dreams, you could do a search for some of the above symbols – then go back and consider whether it was actually Jesus in those dreams.
There are many articles on the internet where people have researched the names of Jesus for us. Here is one I found: https://bibleresources.org/names-of-jesus/
Have you met Jesus in a dream?
Some of you will already have had visions and vivid encounters with Jesus while you were awake. I haven’t yet, and neither do I find it very easy to connect with Him or hear His voice while awake. That makes the times when He has appeared in my dreams extra special to me.
Dreams could be a doorway to a new level of relationship with Jesus.
Some of you may be longing to meet Jesus but find it difficult to know how. Maybe dreams could be a doorway for you to a new level of relationship with Him.
Sometimes, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we do not realise that it was Jesus at the time, because he was disguised in symbolic form. So maybe you have met Jesus – but you don’t know it, Maybe:
- You didn’t know it was Jesus because he was disguised in symbolic form.
- You didn’t record your dream, so you don’t remember it.
We need to make some effort to remember our dreams and write them down if we want to remember and benefit from our encounters with Jesus. We also need to think about them afterwards and review them – to consider whether or not Jesus was represented!
If we make an effort with these things, then Jesus will respond to our seeking.
Real dream example
Here is a real dream where Jesus appeared in my dream symbolically, but I didn’t know it was Him at the time:
In the dream I was throwing a party for my children and their friends in an old church building. My husband was there but he was not helping me. I was very cross that He was not helping.
At that time of life, I was extremely busy with church life, and was trying to organise many things.
- My husband represents Jesus in this dream.
- My family represents the church family and all the things I was doing.
At first I could not see how my husband could represent Jesus, because surely Jesus would be helping me?
It was only later that I realised that I was subconsciously feeling cross with God – because I felt he wasn’t helping me with all the church things and I didn’t understand why. Jesus appeared in diguise so I could express those feelings and be prompted to talk to him about it.
It turned out (after some prayer and seeking God) that I was trying to do so many things in my own strength that God never asked me to do – and he was trying to show me his solution which was different to what I had been thinking. As a result, my attitude and way of doing things changed.
Meeting Jesus Christ is not exclusively for the early church, gifted individuals, or certain ‘special’ people.
You and I can meet Jesus regularly in our dreams – either literally or symbolically. So if, like me, you struggle to connect with God in other ways, this is an incredible blessing.
Sometimes, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we do not realise that it was Jesus at the time, because he was disguised in symbolic form. This means that we need to record our dreams and think about them afterwards – to consider whether or not it was Him.
Maybe you have had a conversation with Jesus in a dream and you didn’t know it!
If you are reading this article because Jesus has appeared to you in your dream and you’re not sure what to do about it, be encouraged that this is normal! Please do leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
And if you’re someone who would really love to meet Jesus, why not ask him to meet you in a dream? Start writing them down – so if he does appear symbolically you can recognise him.
Here is one of my favourite scenes from The Chosen TV series – portraying the impact Jesus had on people when they encountered him. I hope it inspires you to get to know Jesus – for real – today:
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The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.
It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.
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