Whom do you seek?
The gospel accounts demonstrate that people regularly underestimated the power and authority of Jesus. This is especially seen in the way that they tried to arrest Him. The point is well illustrated when Judas came with the Roman cohort, along with officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, to arrest him (John 18). They did not realize what they were about to encounter. The text tells us:
So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answer Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-5)
Imagine the scene. They came with weapons, ready to fight the One who had lived so peacefully. They pulled out all the stops to try to bring this One to some kind of “justice,” as they saw it. Surely they could not fail again. Yet how could they not get it? How could they not know who Jesus really was? We wonder about this, of course, yet would we have reacted any differently? They were seeking Jesus, but they weren't seeking Jesus as He really was (and is). They were looking for a Jesus who was a fake — a merely human Jesus who made outlandish claims and needed to be silenced forever. They weren't seeking God. They weren’t looking at Him in any kind of understanding way. Yet God is who they met in the garden.
What is even more amazing is that the God they encountered in the garden was about to submit Himself to their evil plans, for it was by the hands of godless men that Jesus was put to death (Acts 2:23).
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:22-24)
Did you notice that last statement? It was impossible for Jesus to be held by the power of death. Hades could not get in the way of God's plans and purposes (Matt 16:18). This is why some of the most powerful words in Scripture are found in these: "He is not here, but He has risen" (Luke 24:6).
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15)
Whom do you seek? Who or what exactly are you looking for?
When Thomas missed that first appearance of Jesus to His disciples, he didn't know what exactly he had missed, and he wasn't willing to trust the testimony of his fellow apostles. Yet when Jesus appeared again, Thomas only had one response: “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28) He was seeking verification of some kind to the claim that Jesus had risen. He found his Lord and God.
The point is often made that you find what you are looking for. However, sometimes we find more than we bargained for. This was certainly the case of those who arrested Jesus. They were looking for a trouble-maker and found the Maker of all creation. The question is, are we seeking God? Even more, are we seeking God in the person of Jesus Christ? Once we come face to face with the risen Savior, will we have the honesty to admit what Thomas confessed? “My Lord and My God!” is still the appropriate response when we finally encounter the risen Lord. Perhaps we can be in awe enough of Him to bow before Him and recognize His power and authority.
We ought to realize now, before we are forced to realize it, that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
We may be looking for something else, but in the end we will all discover the truth about Jesus: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev 5:12).
Again, whom do you seek?