Summary: Personal Encounters with Jesus
Many of us can recall some moment in time that stands out as a turning point in our lives. Maybe even some very important person, you may have met, whether at a fair, or town celebration or even on an airplane.
For example, take my best friend from back home, Craig. When he was in fourth grade, he went down to Fort Meyers, Florida to spend a week with his grandmother. His parents took him down to St. Louis, to catch a plane for Florida. This was very exciting for Craig as he had never been on a plane. Well he got into his seat; next to him was a rather tall African-American man. Craig said Hi, and the man said hi back to him. Craig had brought along a magazine for the plane ride, Sports Illustrated if memory serves me correctly. On the cover was a basketball player who was dunking a basketball. Craig looked at the cover, and then he looked at the man sitting next to him. To Craig’s amazement the person sitting next to him was none other that Julius Erving, “Dr. J.” of the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers.
To this day Craig shares how Julius Erving befriended him on the flight, made sure he made his transfer at Atlanta ok. He made sure that Craig ate all his in-flight food. You see for Craig, that was a defining moment in his childhood. It was the highlight moment of his entire trip down to see his grandmother.
In our Gospel reading for today, the Passover/Passion Story is full of many such defining moments. Many people during this week had the opportunity to have very powerful encounters with Jesus. Take a moment and think how you may have been impacted by the Palm Processional or maybe you were witness to the cleansing of the Temple. Maybe you are one of Herod’s guards or Herod himself as this scene takes place in Luke 23:8-11
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:8-11 NIV)
For Herod, his meeting with Jesus was definitely less than what he was hoping for. My guess is, he was hoping for a “magic show,” maybe even some groveling for mercy in the hopes that Herod would let him go. What he got instead was absolute silence.
Why? Because Jesus knew what Herod wanted. He knew that Herod cared nothing for the message that God could bring him through a miracle. None of the men gathered there were interested in growing closer to God. They were only interested in their own selfish interests and amusement.
Unfortunately, many people today expect the same thing out Jesus. They want a quote “magic show.” They expect their experience with Jesus to be some awe inspiring miracle, instead of some personal experience that touches their lives at a much deeper level.
In other words like Herod, for many people of today the message has become….“What can God do to serve my needs and interests, instead of,"What can I do serve God because I know that He will meet all my needs."
Because of this reversal of message, many find their search for God unfulfilling, or they find that they are putting the wrong interests first in their lives, continually shoving God further and further into a corner.
Many Christians go through their whole lives never really able to pinpoint a specific moment that brought them to Christ. Not everyone will have a moment on their own “Road to Damascus”, or a “meeting at the well” if you will.
We have the chance for an encounter with Jesus each and every day of our lives. Those encounters can take many forms from small daily incidents like Sarah asking me for a cup of water, by the way, for those who were not there to witness her beginning days of life, you cannot comprehend how great a miracle those words are to Luann and me. Those encounters can also include having a chance visit with a complete stranger just because they needed someone to listen to their story.
For some as those small encounters add up, it is years before a person realizes that they had a Jesus/God experience. It is when they look back and see all those moments be it in Sunday School, or a Christmas program of days gone by we realize that Jesus was amongst us.