I went looking for a friend the other day. Many said he was missing or that he had somehow failed in his duties. I decided to go looking where I knew I had seen him so many times before.
I looked in a manger surrounded by animals and meager shepherds, and I found a baby. This baby is Emmanuel – God with us. Here I found Jesus, the Son of God, who left the glories of heaven and the perfection of the Father’s presence and was born weak and frail to live among us. He had the power to speak the world into existence but chose to become dependent on a young girl and her husband for food, clothing, and shelter. He is so righteous and holy that sinners cannot stand in his presence yet he chose to be born and live among us sinners so that we could know Him. He experienced our pain, our ridicule, and our rejection. Yes, I found my friend where he always is: right here with us as Emmanuel, God with us.
I looked at a hideous cross which was used to brutally torture and kill criminals. I saw a crowd shouting insults at one whose brow was dripping with blood from a crown of thorns that had mockingly been placed on his head. I saw his flesh being torn by the cruel nails that held his body to this instrument of disgrace. As I looked I noticed this was the same person I had seen in the manger. This was Emmanuel, God with us. He did not deserve to be on that cross. He had done nothing wrong! But he hung there in our place. He was there because of every sin ever committed so that every sinner who cries out for hope can find it. He took that pain, that disgrace, that punishment so we don’t have to. Yes, I found my friend where he always is: saving us from our sins.
I looked in a borrowed tomb. Here my friend had been placed after his executioners were done with their deadly work. But my friend was not there, dead in the tomb, he was outside of it, alive! He has risen from the dead conquering sin and death and offering eternal life to all who believe! Yes, I found my friend where he always is: alive and victorious over my sin and the sins of everyone who will accept His offer of salvation.
I looked ahead through the long distance of time and saw what we all hope for. I saw an end to evil and suffering. I saw my friend making all things right and removing all wrong. I saw my friend coming as a conquering king and justly punishing those who think they are able to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences to others. I saw every tear wiped away and death was banished from existence. I saw children who could live in peace with no fear of harm and parents who would never receive a call that no one should ever have to get. I saw His kingdom living in peace for ever and ever. Yes, I found my friend where he always is: coming to judge the evil in the world, to set all things right, and to reign in perfect peace and justice for all eternity.
And then I looked around me and I saw confusion, despair, doubt, and death. I realized these things were not just in the world around me, they were in me as well. I saw that I was desperately lost and suddenly I realized that I didn’t actually find my friend at all for he was never missing! I was…and he found me. And now he is sending me and all who have been found to find others and bring to them the news of who he is and what he has done so they can be found too. And as we do this, he who has all authority in heaven and earth promises “I am with you always, even to the very end of the earth.”
God is not lost. He is where he always is: reigning over heaven and earth but also here with us, seeking and saving those who are lost and offering the hope and rescue that only He can give. A lost world will sometimes get glimpses of just how lost it is, but in these moments let us cling to the one who finds.