We’ve come out of Retreat (well, a week ago now) and I’ve noticed again how it happens that the sense that I haven’t even begun to know the Lord, is so strong. How do you meet Jesus, at that level or in that place where we most need to know Him, and to meet and be reached by Him?
The Sermon on the Mount (cf Mt 5) – I decided to start again at the ‘beginning’ and try and meet Him again. … ‘his fame spread throughout all Syria …’ (Mt 4:24); … ‘And great crowds followed him …’ (Mt 4:25) What would it have been like to have been one of the crowd? How did it happen that a person became one of the crowd: if they followed him not because they were sick or in need of any kind of healing? What was it about Him that drew so many people to Him?
It can be a lonely business, choosing God even when at the same time, on the other hand, it is a most wondrous and joy-filled experience – that moment when you say ‘yes’ to Jesus, because you just know that what He wants is not anything you can do or be, but purely and simply you. And He understands the loneliness: He’s in it too.
There’s something about Jesus.
There – on the ‘Mount’ – surrounded by the crowds of people, telling them who they are: building them up and encouraging them to keep reaching out for what it was they sought, that something that compelled them to go after Him. And He said:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit …; those who mourn …; the meek …
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness …; the merciful …
the pure in heart …; the peacemakers …; the persecuted …
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account …’
Someone in the crowd was there, because you had heard Jesus, or maybe only heard about Him – and it wasn’t easy to come. You came alone because when leaving home, you hadn’t been able to put words on this force within you, drawing you powerfully on. It was hard to leave, but not possible not to. If they could only see what you saw – down there where you now know how everything at last fits, everything matters immensely – Jesus seems to have all the answers: more than that …
He is the answer to everything.
You were expecting them, maybe, to be full of joy for you, or at least to be happy for you; and at times, instead, the reverse seems to be the reality. And then the questions and even doubt begin to chip away at the certainty. Maybe they’re right. You know what you’re walking away from, you belong there; there you are acceptable, loved, happy.
… But there’s something about Jesus. …
He has changed the colour of everything and now the only way to live is by going after Him, though only He knows the way, and you don’t even really know what lies ahead. … But you do … He it is. And He is there on the mount, looking at you: speaking to you – ‘Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you … rejoice and be glad …’
He can see into your soul, He knows exactly how you long to follow Him, and yet want to stay – He knows how agonising the choice can sometimes be (though there really isn’t a choice). But maybe, … just maybe, He wants to be the One you lean on; the One whom you turn to for support; the One who understands.
His loneliness is greater than yours, because it’s not really you who is misunderstood, sure it isn’t?
… It’s Him.