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I Will Find You

John 17:1-11

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 May

2020

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, 2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; 5 and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made. 6 “I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; 8 for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine; 10 all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Christi Himmelfahrt by Gebhard Fugel, c. 1893

Our hearts should never forget his promise when he said, “I shall be with you forever more.”[1]
Know this, no matter what, Jesus will always find you, wherever you are.

​Those who have watched the movie, “Taken” starring Liam Neeson, will know full well the promise of a father who vows to find his abducted daughter. The 2008 French film strikes at the heart of all parents who fear the worst, that there child could be taken. A good parent always wants their children to be safe. They want to make sure they are clothed, fed, housed, transported, overall given everything they need to “grow up” and make it on their own. But that is much easier said than done. The fear always comes out of wondering if we did a good job in raising them. Evidence can often be seen in how the relationship develops as they get older and how they handle, if they handle, new responsibilities. Parents who get mad at their children, who scream and get angry, are not being effective. What is needed is a cool, calm and direct message that gets their attention. The following is not as tragic as the actual movie of a daughter being taken, but there is this “meme” that spoofed the movie and applies to how parents sometimes feel about their children when they get older and fail to take on things they are expected to do around the house. It is a picture of Liam Neeson in that legendary scene, when he is on the phone with his daughter’s abductor, but with a more humorous variation. Below the picture is the following: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for a maid to clean up after you, I can tell you I don’t do that. But what I do have are very particular skill sets; skills I have acquired over a very long lifetime; skills that make me an expert in home Wifi systems and cellular data plans. If you clean up your own room and kitchen mess, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you and I will find you.
And I will disconnect you.”[2]

Yep, that’ll get the attention of your teen or young adult alright and they will get their act together. The problem is we cannot expect it will happen over night. It takes time watching your children grow, become disciplined and act responsibly. The great thing about a loving parent is that even though they may threaten their children, even if it means disconnecting them, they did make a promise; from the very beginning, from their child’s birth, they promised they would never leave them. They also promised that if anyone came between them, God as their witness, they would do all in their power to keep them safe. There is the promise. That is what our hearts should never forget. The parent is with the child forever more.

Let’s now take a look at the parent and the child from two scenes in the Bible. The first is the parent, Jesus, leaving his children, the disciples. Last week you heard him give his final instructions before leaving Earth and today Jesus ascends into heaven. There is this private messaging going on between him and the Father in heaven as he says things like, “They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept their word.” They cleaned up nice. They want to do what they were raised to do. Further along Jesus says, “All mine are yours and yours are mine…I am no longer in the world but they are in the world.” In other words they are vulnerable, young and helpless. Finally, he says, “Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”[3] Jesus is letting them go and to live on their own, while at the same time, using his particular skills, he adds protection over them by calling in this favor from the Father above. It is his way of saying, “I will find you, wherever you are.”

Have you ever noticed that when the parent is out of the picture, the child, that one who never made there bed, cleaned their room or cleaned up after themselves, becomes a grown up fast? This is true with Peter, just one of Jesus’ beloved children. He grows up. He learns how to speak boldly and courageously and leads by example. You can hear him speaking to us right now in our present day crisis, as this text is ideal for all of us to share during this time when we are feeling as though our own lives have been abducted by a pandemic. See if you can hear Christ speaking through him to us, today when he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Yes, something strange is happening to us and we are indeed being tested. “But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.” Now if you share with others about the strength and courage given to you by Jesus, people may think you’re nuts. They may think you’re foolish, but Peter says, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.” This next part is most important. It describes how you are to speak in the midst of adversity. Peter says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.” Finally, here is our take home text to help us be God’s children in the face of such a challenge and dangerous times. “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” A war is waged and there is one who wants to take you from Christ. “Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”[4] This could not speak any clearer to us for our present time.

Jesus, who had particular skills; skills he acquired over his lifetime, were being passed along to his disciples and now they were calling upon God to protect and to guide the faithful. Through this promise of finding and being found by Christ, we see what it is all about. We see how we never lose connection. Wherever you are today, know this. Just because you do not see Jesus does not mean he is not there. He is always there. He is like the quintessential parent who always provides you with what you need for the time being, speaking calmly, rationally and directly to you. He promised that he would never forsake those who keep his commands. Becoming a responsible person, a responsible parent perhaps, means you stay connected with Christ. Keeping alert means to see the world for what it is, a place of battle between good and evil; between God and the Devil; between those who call out to God and those who turn their backs on God. Will you glorify him in all you do? Will you sing to Jesus declaring the triumph, the victory alone? Will you hark the songs of peaceful Zion that thunder like a mighty flood? Will you proclaim that Jesus has redeemed every nation by his blood?[5]

This is why he came to us. It was all because of a promise that a parent made to do their very best to raise their children in this world. We are all God’s children and our hearts should never forget this promise, that he is with us forever more, wherever we go.

He will find you.

[1] 1982 Hymnal, “Alleluia, sing to Jesus” Hymn #460, vs. 2.
[2] https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-parent-notes/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic
[3] John 17:1-11
[4] 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
[5] 1982 Hymnal, “Alleluia, sing to Jesus” Hymn #460, vs. 1.

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