Finding Jesus...

Scripture Reading – Matthew 23:1-25:46
“Finding Nemo” has been a goldmine for Disney.  Depending on how you figure the gross income, “Finding Nemo” is either the 10th or the 1st in gross revenue of any Disney animated film with over $1 billion in total revenue.  Who knew?  The story line is that of Nemo’s father searching for Nemo when he wanders too close to the surface of the ocean and is caught by a fisherman.  Nemo soon finds himself in an aquarium in a dentist’s office.  You’ll just have to watch the movie to get the rest of it.  Children and adults seem to enjoy it.
The last story in our Scripture reading today is about “finding Jesus.”  Jesus tells 3 stories (parables), then tells some stories about the end of the age.  He then closes with this story about the judgment.  Matthew 25:31-46 is about people who are confronted at the judgment with the surprising news that they failed to see Jesus in the ordinary course of life.  Having failed to see Him, they failed to serve Him.  There are sheep and goats and bewildered people all woven into the story.  Jesus was so creative in presenting a hard truth.
In a nutshell, the story goes like this:  At the judgment there is this great divide.  On one side are the sheep – the good guys – and on the other are the goats – the not-so-good-guys.  And then He says some rather remarkable things:  I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was in prison.  And you did or did not feed Me, give Me water, take Me in, clothe Me, or visit Me!  Seems far-fetched, huh?  Well both the sheep and the goats replied, “When did we see You like this?”  And then Jesus pushes the story to the limit when He says, “. . . to the extent that you did or did not do it to one of the least of these brothers [sisters] of Mine, even the least of them, you did or did not do it to Me.”  
A few years ago, I pulled into a parking place at the  Plaza, a rather exclusive shopping center in Kansas City.  There was a beggar standing outside one of the shops and I remember thinking to myself, “Someone should tell that beggar to move on.  He doesn’t belong here.”  It was only a split second before the Holy Spirit reminded me of this story.  Here was one of the “least of these” right in front of me. I almost failed to see “Jesus” standing there that day.  I wept over my failure to “see” Who was right before me.  My problem was that I was not looking for Jesus at the Plaza or clothed as a beggar or in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I thought it more likely that He would show up at College Church on Sunday morning.  I wasn’t looking for Him, so I almost missed Him.
I hear people say, “I wish God would show up some time.  I wish He would let me see Him.”  According to Jesus, He could be standing around some intersections in our city in need of food or might be walking some of our streets pushing a shopping cart full of stuff or maybe just sitting alone in a park or wishing for company in a care facility or watching TV at home, alone.  The truth is, according to Jesus, He just might show up any place at any time . . . as one of the least of these.
Finding Nemo was quite a challenge but finding Jesus may not be as difficult as we think!  Maybe we just don’t want to see Him when He shows up like this!
Father, open my eyes and my heart.  Help me to see clearly and give me grace to embrace You wherever I see You.  Amen.
On the journey . . .

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