Have you ever met someone and gotten the feeling that they were going to play an important role in your life? Even before you got to know them, you just had a feeling they were going to leave some sort of imprint on the path you were going to take?
I’ve been blessed to meet a few people like that, and while I can’t tell you exactly what it was that gave me those thoughts, I still remember how it felt to welcome them into my life.
When we meet someone who we think is going to make a difference, we tend to remember our first interactions with them — and sometimes even the first words they speak to us. Do you remember when you first met Jesus and how he spoke to you?
The Bible gives us four first encounters with Jesus through the eyes of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You know those names. They are the writers of the four Gospels. These authors give us first hand accounts of what it was like to walk next Jesus. The miracles he performed, the love he showed to everyone (no matter what their past involved), and of course the beautiful sacrifice he made for all of us to live lives free from sin. But the gospels also provide us our first “meetings” with Jesus.
These are Jesus’ first words in each of the gospels:
Matthew 3:15 – “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”
Mark 1:14 – “The time promised by God has come at last! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Luke 2:49 – “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
John 1:38 – “What do you want?”
In the first statement above from Matthew, Jesus is speaking to John the Baptist who is about to baptize him. Here Jesus reveals that he has a plan to carry out on earth and it begins with ceremonial baptism. His mission will change the world forever.
Jesus’s words in Mark imply even more about his mission. We need to repent of our sins and negative ways and believe in him. The Good News is that through belief in him, we can be washed clean of our sins.
His opening statement in Luke was spoken to his parents, Mary and Joseph. After losing track of Jesus during the Passover festival, they finally find him in the temple teaching the religious teachers. Jesus seems astonished — or maybe disappointed — that his parents didn’t think to look for him in a place of worship. Jesus is always with the father, and if we want to find him, we should know where to look. He is in our hearts now. As is the father. As is the Holy Spirit.
And finally, his first words in John were spoken to his first two disciples who been following him. He asks, “What do you want?” Of course, his disciples don’t know yet that what they need is Jesus himself. His love, his spirit, his outlook and of course his forgiveness. When we pray, we also ask Jesus to fulfill our needs and sometimes our wants. Through Jesus, anything we want in this world can be fulfilled.
Our first interaction with Jesus immediately leave us indebted to him. Our lives become overwhelmed with his love and every moment with him becomes special. For many of us who have been Christians for years, we want to get back to the early days when we first met him and had his fire in our hearts. Jesus’ first words our way to get back to our first encounters with him. Or we can simply respond to his question: What do you want?
“We want you, Lord!”