There’s an old story told in business circles about a poor farmer who sold his little dirt farm and went off to search for diamonds. Several years later, he returned home, broke and despondent, never having found any diamonds. Much to his surprise, he finds out a mining company has bought his old farm and his mining diamonds – acres and acres of diamonds – from the very place he had left.
The moral of the story is obvious. The best place to start is right where you are.
For some reason, Christ followers have a hard time getting this one. We always think Jesus is doing big things somewhere else. Revival is breaking out at a church in another city. Miracles are happening in another country. Where we are? Same old, same old.
We seem to have a hard time finding Jesus wherever we are. Why? Most of the time, we aren’t looking for Him where we are. We think Jesus is some place else and as soon as we get there, we’ll start looking for Him.
We aren’t the first people to overlook the obvious. Jacob, running from Esau, went to sleep in the middle of nowhere. That night, he had his famous dream of stairs connecting heaven and earth with angels walking up and down the stairs coming to and from the presence of God. Jacob named the place “Bethel” because God was obviously there and Jacob didn’t know it.
Jacob didn’t learn much from that experience. God ambushed Jacob on the banks of the river. You would think Jacob would have learned to stay alert. He didn’t.
Moses, likewise was in the middle of nowhere, when God appeared to him in the burning bush.
Nathaniel didn’t expect the Messiah to come from Nazareth. If God was going to do anything great, He’d do it in a great city like Jerusalem or Rome. Why would God do anything so far from anybody ever knowing about it?
Simon Peter was surprised by Jesus on a number of occasions – and Peter was standing right there with Jesus. When the storm threatens to sink their boat, Jesus calms the storm and Peter is amazed at Jesus’ power.
John, who described himself as the disciple who Jesus loved, is on the Isle of Patmos when Jesus comes to him. The reason the Romans put John on the island was so no one could get to him. The whole purpose of the exile was to cut John off from Jesus and the churches John served. Jesus got to John anyway.
The Old Testament prophets taunt the surrounding nations because they serve gods who can’t walk. If you go anywhere, they shout, you have to put your god in the back of the wagon. What kind of god is this that has to be carried around by other people?
We shouldn’t be too surprised Jesus was so hard to pin down. He’s a like His Father. He won’t stay in the same place for long.
Early in His ministry, the crowds are gathering but no one can find Jesus. When Peter finally finds Jesus, He tells Peter there are other villages to preach in. After all, Jesus says, that’s the reason I’ve come.
Like I said, Jesus is a hard one to pin down.
Which I guess is one reason we should be gracious to Cleopas and his friend for not recognizing Jesus when He joined them on the road to Emmaus. With everything else going on in Jerusalem, why would Jesus come and walk with them? Surely, there were more important people for Jesus to see, more people for Jesus to convince of His resurrection. Why would Jesus be going to Emmaus anyway?
For that matter, why would be Jesus be coming to Nashville or Chicago, LA or New York? Surely, if Jesus IS God’s Son, He has more important people to see than us. After all, shouldn’t Jesus be spending time with the Pope or other world leaders? That’s what the first disciples thought…
…and they almost missed Him. If there’s one consistent theme in the Bible, it’s this: God loves hanging around no-name nobodies like Simon Peter and Mary, Paul and Mary Magdalene, Abraham and Noah. But these guys are famous, you say. True, but remember, the became famous only after their encounter with God.
I’m always amused when someone tells me they found Jesus. I remind them Jesus wasn’t lost. Jesus found them. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who searches for His lost sheep. The sheep don’t find the shepherd.
The good news of the gospel isn’t we can get to God. The good news of the gospel is God in Christ Jesus has come to us. The good news is Jesus is relentless in His pursuit of us and He won’t let anything, not even death, keep Him from getting to us. Happy week after Easter.