One of the most remarkable passages in Scripture is Jesus’s appearance to the disciples on the evening following his resurrection. The disciples are cowering behind locked doors, for fear that the authorities were coming for them next. John writes: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”
Why do I think that’s remarkable? Because this is the same bunch of cowards that had just deserted Him three days earlier. So why would Jesus want to see and be seen with this bunch of cowards who deserted him?
If I were Jesus, do you want to know who I would have appeared in front of? Pontius Pilate, King Herod, and all those holy hypocrites who shouted “Crucify him! Can’t you see their faces? For three days things have been relatively peaceful…and all of a sudden here he is standing in front of them saying “I’m back!”
Yeah, that’s what I would have done. Payback time. But my ways are not God’s ways.
You might say, by returning to those who betrayed him, Jesus returned to us. He returns to us no matter how badly we treat him or betray him. We don’t have to seek him out. Jesus comes looking for us.
You’re familiar with the concept of “Seeker Churches.” There have been a number of books and articles written about “Seekers.” Here’s a definition of a Seeker Church: “It’s worship simplified for the limitations of those who don’t know much about church, where the music is easy to sing and the ideas are understandable. Often there is no cross or anything controversial. Sermons are simple and often don’t deal with much beyond feelings and helping the listener to feel good about themselves. You often don’t hear much about sin, confession, repentance, or the Cross.”
Well, you might say, that’s OK for someone who doesn’t know much about religion. The problem is that’s NOT the way Scripture depicts us. Scripture isn’t a story about how we’re to keep seeking an elusive God… it’s a story about how God keeps pursuing and seeking us!
God is the shepherd who doesn’t just sit back and wait for the lost sheep to find its way back to the flock. God goes out — even in darkness or stormy weather and risks everything to find that one lost sheep.
With the betrayal and blood of Good Friday, it should have been all over. It should have been the end between us and God. How could a holy and righteous God still love a people who would lie about, spit on, beat, and then kill God’s own Son?
And then we come to Easter. Jesus came back, to the very ones who betrayed and deserted him. The risen Christ came back to the disciples… and the risen Christ came back to us. That’s why, no matter how bad your sins — no matter what you did or said in your past — if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you’re forgiven.
A student was asked to summarize the Bible in one sentence. He said: “In the Bible, it gets dark, then it gets very, very dark, and then Jesus shows up.”
Jesus appears to us and seeks us out. He embraces us and he holds us in his arms. Just as death couldn’t keep him in the tomb, so our various locks can’t keep him out of our lives.
Today, if your doors are locked out of some fear. If your heart is closed to Jesus, just remember. Our God is resourceful, he’s persistent, and he’s determined to have you. Even in our lostness and sinful lives, God is seeking you out.”
The last words of one of my favorite hymns, Abide With Me, are these: “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
This is our hope and our faith. We don’t have to seek him out. The risen Christ comes back for us and abides with us.