“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)
I can still remember being a kid sitting in a wooden chair in Sunday school putting together a papercraft with the words, “God is Love” pasted across the bottom. In the midst of the broken crayons and chunks of dried glue, that simple phrase settled in my heart and mind.
When I got older, I would attend the church’s confirmation and youth group. It was through these experiences that I began to learn how much more complex the reality of one living and true God is.
“I believe,” the opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed says, “in God, the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3, Common English Bible)
Do you remember P. D. Eastman’s book Are You My Mother? The little bird hatches out of her egg and begins searching for her mother. She walks right past the mother bird because she does not recognize her or know what she looks like. She proceeds to ask different animals, “Are you my mother?”
We can identify with the little bird. There are times and moments in our lives when we search for Jesus. But, we don’t recognize him. We may walk right past him, not even knowing it is him.
In Matthew 11, John’s life has taken an unexpected turn. For John, he was imprisoned, and asks, “Are you my Jesus?” For us, we may be imprisoned in our need to be first or right. Or imprisoned in our fussing and complaning. Imprisoned in our busyness.
Or we are imprisoned by the holiday.
“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’. . . . Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’” (John 1:43, 45, NRSV)
When Megan and I first moved to Tidewater, we faced the challenge that so many people face when they move to a new area. Where do we take the car for repairs? What doctor should we use for our child? What restaurants should we avoid?
We asked around and people were happy to share their recommendations for auto shops, doctors, and restaurants.
“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.” (Luke 19:5-6, NRSV)
Do you remember learning the Zacchaeus song in church as a child? “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.”
Just as Zacchaeus was short in stature, he was short in character. As a tax collector, he not only took money from his fellow Jews to give to the Romans, but he cheated them as well. He marked up their taxes so he could take some for himself. The fact that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector only added to the disdain for a corrupt man.