Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” (John 18: 1-8)
Our Lenten journey began on Ash Wednesday with Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of John, “What are you looking for?” Our first week ends with the last words Jesus speaks before his betrayal and arrest, “Whom are you looking for?” Bookend questions to Jesus’ public ministry.
Jesus asks the same question to Mary at the tomb. In her grief she cannot recognize the resurrected Jesus. “Whom are you looking for?” (John 20:15)
The same question asked in two very different circumstances. The answer to the first question led to Jesus’ crucifixion. The answer to the same question asked a few days later brought tears of astonishment and relief to Mary’s eyes.
And you? If Jesus stood before you and asked you that same question, how would you answer?
Today I was very aware of the angst in the life of so many people: Heart-wrenching decisions to be made. Difficult words to be spoken. Gut-wrenching words heard and barely comprehended. “Whom are you looking for?”
This is the same Jesus who has promised to be with us always. I am reminded of the sign above Dr. Carl Jung’s office door which read (in German) Bidden or not bidden God is present. So whether we recognize the presence of Christ with us in our joy or in our grief or in our loneliness, God is with us: The Comforter. The Light of the World. The Bread of Life. Emmanuel. The Good Shepherd. The Resurrection, the Truth, and the Life. The one who opens his arms and invites, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Do we even know what or whom we are looking for? Maybe. Maybe not. But God knows. And perhaps as we reflect on our answer to those questions, we may grow in our wisdom and understanding.
A prayer for today:
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
(Text: Thomas A. Dorsey, 1899-1993. (c) 1938, 1966 Unichappell Music Inc., admin. Hal Leonard Corp.)