Sunday, 15 November 2015

Seeking the Lord

Sometimes we use the phrase ‘seeking the Lord’ in a manner that suggests he is hiding from us and we have to try and locate where he has concealed himself. If this happens, we are searching in ignorance, because we don’t know where he is. I suspect, however, that the illustration of ‘seeking’ is taken from practices that were based on information rather than ignorance. Such practices include a hunter seeking prey (he knows where it is and how to catch it) or a prospector seeking treasure (he knows where it was lost and he has the equipment to find it).

We are exhorted many times in the Bible to seek the Lord. But we are not told to grope around in the dark. Instead we are directed where to go so that we can find him. These directions are contained in the Bible, and one place it tells us to go to is Calvary. The Bible not only tells us where to go, it also tells us how to go.

We don’t travel to Calvary as curious tourists; instead we go there as penitent transgressors. At Calvary we travel to see the Lord taking the place of those who broke his laws – he suffered there the penalty that was rightfully theirs. The realisation that he did this for sinners leads them to focus on why he did such an amazing action.

Again, the Bible gives us the answer to this question. Despite the fact that they had sinned against him, he loved them. This is why he was willing to take their place. Yet it is not enough for them to be sorry for their wrong thoughts and actions. In addition they have to place their confidence in the one who suffered for them. It helps to do this if they journey on a little and go to the location where he arose from the dead. There they appreciate in a powerful way his suitability to be relied upon. In the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, they see that Jesus not only paid the penalty for their sins at Calvary but also defeated death in that garden when he came out of the grave. Someone who could do this is worthy of our trust.

If they need more evidence, they can continue their journey to Bethany and see where he ascended from the earth. At Bethany, his disciples saw ascend into heaven and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Lingering at Bethany and contemplating what happened to Jesus there – he ascended to heaven’s throne from that village – creates a firm trust in him because he now is Lord of all.

An amazing feature of this journey is that you don’t have to leave your seats to make it. In fact, as you have sat reading this, you have in a sense travelled to Calvary, to Joseph’s Garden, and to Bethany. If you missed seeing Jesus, you can make the journey again, this time asking the Guide he has sent to help sinners (the Holy Spirit) to show you Jesus in each of these places. And if you do, you will understand what Jesus did and how to respond to him.

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