Returning To Jesus (23 Apr 2017)

Readings: Luke 24:13-49, John 20:19-31.

Have you ever needed convincing that something is true?  “Show me the evidence!” you say, “and then I’ll believe you.”

That is what the disciples are doing.  John makes a big deal about Thomas, and maybe he was the main offender.  But he shows his hands and side to all of them, and eats in front of them, and the only reason can be to give evidence.  “It really is me,” he was saying to them.

And with that they were convinced, and they gave their lives unreservedly to Jesus.  They had seen enough, but to be fair ‘enough’ was quite a lot.

Many of them had spent several years journeying the country with Jesus, watching him heal the sick, enthrall crowds, perform some crazy miracles, drive out evil spirits, even raise a few people back to life from the dead, and now they had Jesus himself alive from the dead.

They had his personal instruction from those years of companionship, and they understood he was calling them to a lifelong task that would overshadow all else.

So to be fair they had pretty good reason to give their lives over in Jesus’ service.

But they hadn’t expected Jesus to be raised. Some were wandering off home, disillusioned.  We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t with them – he may have been heading home too, or maybe just out getting bread and milk from the corner store, but Jesus gathered them back.

Have you ever wandered off?  Perhaps from your family, perhaps from some big task you were engaged in like a study course or a job.  I suspect most of us do, at some points along the way.  It’s not easy to be fully focused all the way through your life, especially when disappointments happen, or you get treated badly, or the universe seems set against you.

If you wandered off, did you come back?  It can be hard to come back, especially if it involves other people.  Families can be broken by wandering off and not returning.  Sometimes the things you do while wandering can make it extremely hard to return, even if you want to.

There is sometimes quite a bit of humility required to be shown, and humble pie to be eaten, to return.  Some of you no doubt know how true that is.

Have you at any time wandered away from Jesus?  Perhaps from disappointment in life, or from doubts that have grown in your mind, or perhaps distraction, and there is no shortage of distractions on hand.

Have you returned?  That may seem a strange question to ask people who ARE in church.  You might think it better to ask those who aren’t here.  Let me ask more clearly: have you returned with all your heart, soul and mind?

You know it’s true: you can go wandering without even leaving the room. Some of you may be doing it this very moment.

It is easy for us to take our inner eyes away from Jesus, and start being distracted by the boring minister, or the lunch that needs cooking, or the work you could be doing, or the fish you could be catching (in your dreams).

You know this is true also: there are always boring preachers, food needing preparing, work to be done and potential fishing trips – always.  It is in the presence of all those things, and all the others, that Jesus is LORD.

If you go wandering from Jesus because there are other things to take care of it’s like building the family home without a foundation; it’s like pouring a glass of milk without the glass; and it’s a bit like the emperor having no clothes.

Family is best when Jesus is Lord.  Work is best when Jesus Lord.  Recreational activities, of which fishing is just an example, are all best when Jesus is Lord.  Are you chasing love?  Love is best when Jesus is Lord.  I don’t care what you name, or where you have wandered, things would be better if you were living with Jesus as Lord.

I won’t press further, on suspicion you might understand me already, but leave you with the challenge.  Would you please look at the way you’re living and see if you have wandered away from Jesus in any parts of your life?

If you think you have, work out how he can again be Lord in that part of your life.  It will make you a better person, a better worker, a better spouse, parent.  I can’t promise it will improve your golf score, but it will make your golf better.  I can’t guarantee you’ll catch more fish, but the fishing trips will be better.

If you have wandered, would you come home?  Jesus has not once refused the returning wanderer.  But there have been countless wanderers who have refused the invitation of Jesus.