Who Are You Seeking?

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I was once watching a show called Undercover Boss.  The point of the show was that the CEO of a large company would spend a week working entry level jobs within the company without anyone knowing who he was.  Of course this set up for some very funny moments.  For example, one CEO was fired on his first day and told that he just couldn’t cut it in that business.  Many times, you almost felt embarrassed for the people.  They would say things about the corporate office and you just knew that at the end of the show they would find out who they were talking to.  At some point, they would realize that this was not just some new hire, this was the boss; this was their boss’ boss’ boss…or even higher they were talking down to.

I wonder if we aren’t in the same position sometimes.  We talk a lot about Jesus.  We talk about Him in pithy little comments on facebook.  We talk about him with one another.  We toss around His name (maybe even as a swear word).  We come to church and use His name as a half hearted answer.  What I wonder, is do we really understand who He is or do we get confused about who it is we are dealing with?

Herod Antipas (or Herod the Tetrarch) was the third son of Herod the Great and not his father’s first choice as heir.  Upon the death of Herod the Great, Ceaser Augustus divided the kingdom into three areas and put one of Herod’s sons over each.  The son over Judea died before the time of this text and was replaced with a Roman governor.  At times, Herod Antipas was a hero for the Jews.  For example when  Pilate first came to Rome, there was an uproar over the shield that were hung in Jerusalem.  They were idolatrous to the Jews and it was Herod Antipas that came to the rescue and had them removed.  Other times, Herod was not well received at all by the Jews.  First, he built his city of Tiberius over a cemetery making it unclean.  He also married his brother’s wife.  That brought the attention of John the Baptist who preached against it.  Consequently, Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him (Luke 9:7a)

  What had he heard?

It was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. (Luke 9:7c-8)

Herod is no doubt, hearing all kinds of things that Jesus is saying and doing.

And so, “and he was perplexed” (Luke 9:7b)  He is confused.  He even says “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” (Luke 9:9a)  He is perplexed; he is puzzled.  Who is this man?  Is he a problem he cannot silence?  Is he a prophet to lead the people?  The reality of Jesus has always troubled people.  He wonders who Jesus is, because more than anything He wonders what Jesus will mean to Him.

Herod decides he must see Jesus. “So he sought to see Him.” (Luke 9:9b)  Herod did finally get to see Jesus during His trial.

Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. (Luke 23:8)

Apparently, Herod simply wanted to see Jesus do a miracle; a trick.  He wanted to be entertained.  Throughout history, men have sought Jesus only to see what Jesus could do for them.

And what happens when Herod finally does get to see Jesus?

“Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.”  (Luke 23:9-11)

Jesus does not do a miracle, He does not offer proof of who He is, in fact, Jesus does not even speak to Herod.  Why?  We do not know for sure, but we know this:  Jesus does not owe anyone an explanation for Himself.

It is easy to condemn Herod, here.  It seems he only expected Jesus to do a trick.  We look at that and say, “how foolish!”  Did he know who it was he was seeking?  Did he know who it was that was brought in to him?  Yet, Herod is no different here than most people.

We have all heard many things about Jesus.  Some have heard all the stories in the Bible.  We have heard it said that He was God incarnate, that He was God’s only begotten son; that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, showed power and authority over the natural and the supernatural world, died on a cross for our sins, and rose again conquering death.  And we get curious and wonder, what will he do for me?

We face this same dilemma.  We wonder, “who is this?” and we eagerly wait to see how He will perform for us.  Some protest.  They say, no, I just want to see something so that I can believe.  Who would you believe in?  Who is it you are seeking?  Are you seeking a cosmic servant; someone who will perform for you and grant you wishes?  Are you seeking the Lord of all creation?

You must understand that Jesus does not exist for us, but we exist for Him.  I know that many will say, “wait, did not Jesus humble Himself to serve us?”  Yes, but that is what is absolutely amazing!  There is no big deal at all to some sort of cosmic butler serving me. Yet the idea that the creator of all things would stoop down for me…that is incredible!

Sadly, many never grasp that amazing part.  That is why worship seems empty and why we confuse a worship service for entertainment.  If you struggle with the idea of becoming a Christian or if your Christian walk has become dry, it may be that you aren’t grasping what is so amazing.

Yes, you have heard some wonderful things about Jesus.  Yes, you may desire to see these things for yourself and to meet Him and get to the bottom of what this is all about.  Now imagine, that there is no question of “Who is this.”  Rather, the one you want to know more about; the one that you are seeking is the Lord.  You seek nothing less than the one true God who created you, who loves you, who gave Himself for you.  When you realize who it is that you are really seeking, you are blown away by His love.  Worship is no chore, and a life for Him is not dry.  You must understand who He is.

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Do Not Fear, Believe

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ImageI recently read the book and then watched the movie, Moneyball.  Its the true story of how the poorest team in baseball managed to have the winningest record in baseball including a 20 game winning streak.  We love stories like that.  We love to see the underdog prove everyone wrong.  We love to see all of our doubts shattered so that we can truly believe that things happen beyond everything we can know.

Many times, we hope for that when we read the Gospels.  We read over and over again accounts of Jesus having power and authority over the natural world, the supernatural world; over everything.  It seems too good to be true.  We want it to be true, but it goes against what we know.  It goes against our common sense.

Can Jesus really give me peace?  Does he really have the power to conquer anything that threatens me?  Can He really heal?  Can He really raise the dead?  Many can follow Jesus as a teacher, a role model, even a religious figure, but truly believing in Him is difficult.

40 So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. 41 And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. 43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,”  (Luke 8:40-43)

When Jesus returns, a crowd is waiting for him.  But in this crowd, there are two people.  One is Jarius.  He is a ruler at the local synagogue.  Jarius has a daughter who is sick and dying.  Jarius begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his daughter.  Jesus went when the man asked him to come.

The other person in the crowd is a little woman who has been sick for twelve years.  She has spent her life savings on doctors, but no one has ever been able to help.  This woman believes that if she can so much as just touch the edge of Jesus’ clothes, then she will be healed.

44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.“(Luke 8:44)

Since this woman had this particular sickness, she would have been considered unclean.  For twelve years, she has had to live outside of Jewish society.  She has not been welcome at the temple.  She has not been welcome in social and religious gatherings.  She probably thinks she has absolutely no business speaking to a great rabbi, and if He really were the Messiah, He would not have any business with her.  Yet, she hopes that if she can just touch the edge of his clothes, maybe she will be healed.

She pushes her way through the crowd, and reaches out just to touch, and she does.  Suddenly, she is healed

45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”

When all denied it, Peter and those with him[f] said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” 47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.

48 And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”” (Luke 8:45-48)

She is healed, but at that moment, Jesus stops and asks, “Who touched me?”  What a question.  Everyone is confused, because the crowd has been pushing and shoving and everyone has touched Him.  Jesus knows every touch in a crowd.  He knows when someone is reaching out to Him.  This woman knows that He is talking about her.  She must be terrified.  She has been found out!  She gets on the ground in front of Him.  She knows this was not the proper way to seek the Messiah but it worked.  She explains what happened.  He doesn’t condemn her.  He doesn’t reject her.  He calls her “daughter” as though she belonged to Him and tells her that her faith has made her well.  Jesus offers healing, peace, and a place as one of His own

49 While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.”

50 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl..” (Luke 8:49-51)

Suddenly, the tone changes.  Yes this woman has been healed, but they took too long.  They didn’t get to the little girl in time and word comes that she is dead.  Yet, still, Jesus says to believe that she will be well.  Jesus said to believe instead of fear.

52 Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” 53 And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead.

54 But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” 55 Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. ” (Luke 8:52-55)

So they go to the house.  The crowd has to stay behind as only a few go in.  Everyone is already mourning, as is common when someone dies.  Jesus tells everyone not to cry because she is only sleeping.  Everyone laughs at this.  That’s crazy!  But Jesus goes to the child, tells her to arise, and she does.  Yes, Jesus can give life to the dead.

56 And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.” (Luke 8:56)

In a sharp contrast to “Go and peace” to the woman and “Go and tell” to the demon possessed man, Jesus tells the amazed parents, “Don’t tell anyone.”  Jesus doesn’t send the one’s that don’t have faith.

There were many reactions in this story to Jesus and his ability to heal.  One woman believed completely and received healing, peace, and a place as one of His own.  Jarius reacts with half-hearted belief.  Jesus may be able to heal the sick, but raise the dead?  Even when it happens before his eyes, he can hardly believe it.  Still others did not believe at all.  When Jesus says the girl is not really dead, the crowd of people laugh in disbelief.  The fact is that Jesus is willing and able to do what He says he will do, but we struggle to believe.  It goes against what we think we know.  It goes against what we call common sense.  We struggle to put our faith in Jesus completely.  Like the woman, we want His healing and peace.  We want to be called “son” or “daughter.”  Like Jarius, we may even seek Him to see if he can help, but we only half heartedly think He can.  Sometimes we are like the crowd.  We think we know what really is, and the whole idea of Jesus being able to raise the dead is laughable.

You must believe that the Lord Jesus is willing and able to bring you healing and peace.  The sick woman did and she found so much more than healing.  She found peace; she found a place as one of His own.  Jarius half-heartedly believed.  He believed that maybe Jesus could help his daughter before it was too late.  To Jarius, there were limits as to what Jesus could do.  He could do great things.  He could probably help, but there were limits.  To the crowd, the idea that Jesus could raise the dead was laughable.

What if Jarius had believed like the woman.  What if those with him would have believed.  Certainly no one would have said “don’t bother.”  More would have reached out to touch Him.  More would be around Him, seeking Him in everything.

What if you believed that the Lord Jesus is willing and able to bring youhealing, peace, and make you one of His own?  We all have those limits.  We all have a line where we will follow Jesus only so far, or maybe not at all.  But if we truly believed, those lines would disappear.  Nothing would hold us back and in the end, we would be His, and we would find healing and peace.

Intended For Greater Things

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Intended For Greater Things

I am very grateful to On Mission magazine for letting me share about our coming church plant.