Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!
As we move toward Easter, I thought it would be a great time to focus on who Jesus is and why it should matter to us. I think most people would say they know something about Jesus, but that does not necessarily mean they really know him or who he is. To truly know someone, is to understand the core of who they are and their purpose for living. Over the next couple of weeks I would like to take a look at a few words that speak to who Jesus truly is and why he should matter to us. I hope you will come along for the journey.
When I was six years old, my family moved into my grandparents’ basement in Ellicott City, MD so that my dad could start his business and my mom could finish her college degree. Part of moving as a kid is going to a new school. As a six year old, I was starting first grade, which meant it was my first experience with a “big” school. It was also my first experience with riding the bus to school. As a rather small child, this was both exciting and intimidating. As is probably the case with many young boys, I liked the idea of riding around on the bus – it was the getting on and getting off of the bus at the right time that made me anxious. On one of the first few days of school, my greatest fear was realized. I boarded the bus home like any other day. However, on that particular day, I decided to sit near the back of the bus. As the bus pulled towards my bus stop, I began to get up to get off the bus. As the bus came to a stop, the other kids who lived in my neighborhood started to exit the bus. The kids who lived in my neighborhood happened to be considerably older and bigger than me, which may be why the bus driver did not see me trying to reach the exit before he closed the door and began to drive to the next stop. He had forgotten me. By the time I reached the front of the bus to tell the driver that I was supposed to get off at the previous spot, he was already too far to go back. He told me that he would have to go through the entire bus route before he was able to drop me off. As you can imagine, that was one of the longest hour and a halves of my life. The good news is when he finally took me back to my stop, my grandfather was waiting for me and took me directly to the kitchen so that we could enjoy some much needed root beer floats.
Feeling forgotten like I did on the bus that day is much more common than we would probably like to admit. Most people can easily remember times from their childhood when they were not picked for a team or left out of a particular group of friends, but this feeling is not limited to our youth. As adults we can feel just as forgotten and the pain can be very deep. We wonder why we do not have more friends, or why we do not ever seem to get a call back from the place we want to work, or we feel like generally like people do not truly see us. In Nicaragua I see many seemingly forgotten people. I drive by people daily who live in extreme poverty and, due to their uncleanliness, disabilities or other “less than desirable” features, are generally ignored by the rest of society. Many days I spend time with kids who live in an orphanage and in many cases have been forgotten by their parents. The world is full of forgotten people who just want to be found.
This is where Jesus enters the picture. Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples, records a story about a woman who was probably feeling pretty forgotten. Jesus had just been approached by a synagogue leader when the woman saw Jesus in the crowd. The synagogue leader had asked Jesus to come with him to raise his daughter from the dead. “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If only I touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 9:20-22, NIV) The woman had been suffering for a long time, and as one of the other accounts of Jesus’ life records, the doctors had given up hope to heal her. In reading the account, you get the sense that she saw herself as unimportant and unworthy of distracting Jesus from help the “more important” synagogue leader. Instead of drawing attention to herself, she decides to sneak up in the crowd to touch Jesus’ cloak, in hopes that it would heal her. It is at this moment her plan is foiled. It says that Jesus “turned and saw her”. Jesus did not want her to continue to feel forgotten and unseen. In the midst of a crowd and an important moment, Jesus wanted to woman to know that we saw her and cared about her. In that moment, she went from feeling forgotten to feeling loved and known.
This is the same thing many of us need today. We feel forgotten and want someone to see and know us. Enter Jesus. You see Jesus is a seeker of the forgotten. You may believe everyone has forgotten you, but He has not and is waiting for you to come to him so that he can say, “I see you and love you”. If you are feeling forgotten today, I would challenge you to examine the life of Jesus and what he could mean to your life. No matter how forgotten you feel, much like my grandfather was waiting for me at the bus stop, Jesus is waiting to tell you that he loves you and knows you. In Christ, the seeker of the forgotten, you can be found.
– James Belt