Looking for Jesus

Scripture: Luke 4:42
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. (NRSV)

I love this verse even though I know that I am really taking it out of context with my thoughts for today.  For a Bible study, that is a bad idea, but for a devotional, it does not really matter if you take a scripture verse out of context as long as God is speaking into your heart through the verse.

What I love about this verse is that Jesus has gone to a deserted place and the crowd that had experienced his love and healing became aware that Jesus was no longer there.  I love that the people who had experienced Jesus’ healing touch, either for themselves or for the people they had brought to Jesus, feel what might be called a “panic” moment when they discover that they are no longer in the presence of Jesus.  Our English translation says they were “looking” for him but, the better sense of the Greek word used in this text is that they were “hunting” for him.  It was a search with some level of intensity.  

You are all probably aware that even before the pandemic, our church and other churches were losing people from our in-person worship services in large numbers.  The church growth “gurus” have been saying for the past 20 years that church culture has been changing from one where being in church on Sunday morning was the ultimate expression of one’s faith into a culture where church attendance has become the thing you do when you finally have a Sunday with nothing else on the calendar.

There seems to be little intensity in our looking for Jesus.  There is little intentionality about finding Jesus and spending time in Jesus presence.  I know that you can find Jesus in other places than a church building.  I’m using worship attendance as just one indicator that Christians (notice, I’m not even talking about non-Christians) seem to have lost their passion for being in Jesus' presence.  If you follow statistics about Christianity at all, you will also notice that over the last 20 years, surveys show that fewer and fewer self-avowed Christians claim to read their Bibles with any regularity and fewer Christians claim to have an active prayer life intentionally placing themselves in the presence of God during the week.

So, I guess I love this verse (out of context) because it shows the passion that this group of people had for Jesus.  When they saw he was not in their presence, they hunted for him.  When they found him, they never wanted him to leave them again.

Are you still passionate about Jesus?  Do you spend time with him each day?  Do you have a regular prayer time where you talk with Jesus and let him speak to you with his words of love? Do you read the Bible and allow the word of God to nourish your spirit?  Do you worship Jesus on a regular basis giving him the praise and the honor that he is due?

Pray with me:

God of love and God of relationship fill me with your Holy Spirit bringing to me a longing to be in your presence.  Reveal to me the great joy that comes from an intimate relationship with you as I pray, worship, and read your word.  AMEN.

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