On Easter Sunday, I wrote about the very first words uttered after the resurrection “Do not be afraid.” Today I want to draw you to the next thing that the angel said at the time (Matthew 28:5):
“I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified”
Well, certainly they were looking for the body of Jesus. Because he was crucified, they weren’t expecting to meet Jesus himself but they hoped to be able to anoint his body with spices and perhaps in the cold light of dawn to confirm in their minds and hearts that the horrific events of those past few days were true and to get some possible form of closure.
“You seek Jesus …”
And yet, they were about to be offered something far better than that. They won’t find the body in the tomb The message that started with “Do not be afraid” gets better and better because the angel then tells them that they won’t be finding a body in the tomb. Jesus is not to be found there.
“He is not here … he is risen”
The good news of Easter Sunday is that because of Jesus’ death, paying the penalty for our sin, death is now a defeated enemy. As one of my favourite Easter hymns says “death cannot keep it’s prey, Jesus my saviour, he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.”
Then something about what the angel say -and I guess the fact that he was an angel standing there bright and dazzling causes the women to move on and leave the tomb quickly, apparently without looking in to the tomb, there is belief that Jesus is risen. AS they go, something wonderful happens.
“Jesus met them”
The one they had come to see, the one they’d expected to find as a dead bod, they meet face to face and live, standing before them. To quote another wonderful Easter hymn, “Low Jesus greets us, risen from the tomb.” Notice that the hymn writer beautifully draws us in and writes us into the story so that it is not just the women but you and me who meet Jesus that Sunday morning and that’s where I want to take us this morning.
You see, these are words for every follower of Christ and every person who is seeking for truth, hope, peace, forgiveness, rest. These are the words that every spiritually hungry and thirsty person needs to hear
“I know that you are seeking Jesus”
And these are the words that we so desperately need to be said to describe our experience:
“Jesus met them.”
Now, as I talk about spiritually hungry and thirsty people, I recognise that in many cases, if we were to say “I know that you are seeking Jesus” their response would be surprise. They may well know that they are looking for hope, looking for healing, looking for answers but they would not count themselves as religious or as Christian, so why on earth would it be Jesus that they are looking for. Yet, I want to suggest that he is the one they are seeking, even if they don’t know it. I don’t mean that in some kind of fluffy inclusivist way or the “anonymous Christian” theory that has become engrained into some more liberal aspects of Christianity. I’m not saying that it is possible to be saved without knowing about Jesus. What I’m saying is that, even though they do not know it, Jesus is the only one who can answer their questions, heal their hearts, forgive their sin, give them life and fill them with hope.
My point then is this. Don’t let them go away without meeting Jesus! Don’t become so nervous of being seen as religiously intolerant that you spend your time engaging with all of their questions and all of their needs without talking about Christ. This means that of course you will want to run your debt advice centres and your foodbanks and your support groups but if as Christians, we don’t at some point talk to those who come to us about Jesus and the Gospel, then we are missing the purpose and we have failed to love those who come to us because we’ve offered them second best.
Finally, those words “Jesus met them” are beautiful words that do describe our experience as believers. Jesus always does meet those who seek him because he is in fact the one who comes looking for us. He met us at the point when we came to faith, he meets us in the Gospel. He meets us in the pages of Scripture, most overtly in the ~Gospels and then the other #New Testament books but we know from the Emmaus Road account that he is present on the pages of the Old Testament. He will meet us, when he returns, face to face and
“we will be like him.”
 Matthew 28:8.