Are You Chasing Jesus?

Text: Matthew 21:1-9

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

We like to hunt, rather than be hunted. 

We like to chase, rather than be chased. 

We like to catch things, rather than being caught. 

And the reason why? 

There is great fear involved when we are pursued.  Anxiety comes about when we have a target on our backs.  Worry arises when someone comes at us.

For example, take this quote from a 1960s British novel where one of the characters expresses his fear of being hunted,

“…in the forest . . . when you are on your own . . .  if you’re hunting… sometimes you catch yourself feeling as if— . . . there’s nothing in it of course.  Just a feeling.  But you can feel as if you’re not hunting, but—being hunted, as if something’s behind you all the time in the jungle.”[1]

It gets a little more complex than just simple fear and anxiety, though.  You see, when we are the ones hunting, chasing, catching, and pursuing, we are the ones that are in control.  We are the ones in the driver's seat.  We have power, dominance, and oversight of the situation when we pursue and chase – or so with think. 

A big problem arises though when we consider our Gospel reading from this morning.  Hear St. Matthew quote a part of the Old Testament: 

“Behold, your King is coming to you!” 

Now, as you can hear, our Gospel reading does not talk about us pursuing King Jesus.  It does not talk about us chasing Jesus, hunting Jesus down, or even catching Jesus by our willpower and determination.  But rather, our Gospel reading says that Jesus comes to us.  “Behold, your King is coming to you!” 

This presents a bit of a problem. 


Because there are whole theological systems, church denominations, books, and preachers in our society that emphasize that we are the ones hunting, chasing, pursuing, and catching Jesus.  And even though thousands upon thousands of well-meaning Christians are tirelessly chasing after Jesus, they are quite content with their busyness.  Why? Because there is a strange comfort in doing the hunting, chasing, pursuing, and catching.  As previously mentioned, it gives the illusion that we are in control of our spirituality. It gives us the illusion that we are in the driver’s seat.  It gives the illusion that we have power, dominance, and oversight of our lives. 

But as you have already heard, our Gospel reading paints a different picture.  It shows us that there is something behind us – not in the jungle – but our lives.  It shows us that we are not the ones hunting, but the ones being hunted.  We are the ones being chased and pursued. 

You see, Jesus Christ came to earth some 2,000 years ago.  He came to humanity being born of a virgin.  Yes, He came!  And now for more than 2,000 years, Jesus has continually come.  He has continually come to humanity in His Word and Sacraments. 

But why might this be problematic if Jesus comes to us?  Why is it a concern that He hunts, chases, pursues and catches us?

Dear friends, “Is [Jesus} not the holy Son of God and we sinners, who have come short of the glory of God?  Is He not the eternal Judge of all?  Does not our conscience accuse us of great guilt, if we look back into our past, or only into [the] last year?  Must we not expect that, when Jesus comes, He will come in wrath to punish us as we deserve?”[2]    

Perhaps this is why so many well-meaning Christians struggle with the idea of being hunted, chased, pursued, and caught by Jesus.  I don’t know for sure, but maybe they are afraid of the Son of God catching them in their sin.  I mean just think of the terror of Jesus – our righteous Judge –catching us in our dark sins, those sins that we attempt to bury deep in our thoughts.  Think of the dread of Jesus coming to shine light into our dark hearts.

This is beginning to make sense, is it not?  Consider the following example: it is easy and exhilarating to put on a pious face and chase after Jesus – and to do it in a way that everyone notices.  On the other hand, it is quite difficult and frightening to think that the Lord comes to us as poor miserable sinners.  And so, we hide from the Lord with our sins and we chase after the Lord with religious zeal – pretending that we have it all together.   

But regardless of our methods, schemes, and strategies, our Gospel lesson still states that King Jesus comes to us!  This is the major theme of Advent, for the word ‘Advent’ means, ‘coming.’  That is to say; we do not have a complacent, distant, lethargic, non-seeking King Jesus!  It is the exact opposite!  Jesus came to humanity some 2,000 years ago in His birth in Bethlehem, and He has come every single year since then.  He came to you last year and will come to you again this year! 

But before we get too worked up, let us pause and ask ourselves how this King Jesus comes to us!  Should we fear this coming King Jesus? 

Consider our Gospel Reading again.  What we heard this morning is that Jesus is indeed exalted and noble, but we hear that Jesus comes not as a holy Judge, armed with the terror of righteous judgment, but as a King – a meek King – a king of grace and mercy! 

Can any truth be more comforting than this, especially on this Sunday of the new Church Year? 

Get this dear Baptized Saints, “Jesus is [all-knowing]; He knows all the sins that we have ever committed, even those we have already forgotten; He knows all the sins that we will commit in the future; He knows exactly the condition of our heart.  He knows it better than we [know it] ourselves . . . ; He knows our whole great sinful corruption.  Yet He does not want to know this as our Judge, who wants to punish our sins, but as our meek King of grace, who comes to forgive [our sins, to] blot them out, hurl them into the depths of the sea.”[3]        

Indeed, Jesus knows all the troubles in which we are in; all the worries and anxieties that keep us up at night; all the sighs that come from the tiredness within. He knows the tricks and plans of our enemies.  He knows the dangers to our health, mind, and bodies.  “And though He knows that all our trouble and dangers are caused first by our sins, He does not know all this in order to punish us through them, as [if He is] our enemy. . . .  He knows all of this as our King of grace; He wants to come in order to [forgive our sins], fill our . . .  wants, hear our prayers . . . , dry our tears, turn aside dangers, protect us . . . , turn our evil to our good, and finally, to free us from . . . death.”[4] 

Considering all of this, we should want to be hunted, chased, pursued, and caught by Jesus!  In other words, the coming of Jesus is good news, not bad news. 

With a King like this, why on earth would we want to hunt, chase, and pursue Him?  Instead, we should run before His throne of mercy and say,

“Here I am, I am a poor miserable sinner in thought, word, and deed!  Here I am!  Come to me and forgive me!  Cleanse me!  Redeem me!”

And dear friends, this is exactly what the Lord does each and every Sunday as we stand shoulder to shoulder confessing our sins.  He comes to us in the Word to proclaim forgiveness into our ears.  He comes to us to pour into our mouths His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.  Yes, He comes as our King of grace!

And so today, when we hear that Jesus comes, we shall have no fear!  When we hear that Jesus comes, we do not hang our heads.  We do not cringe. 

At the news that Jesus came 2,000 years ago and still comes to us today, we lift our heads and rejoice in our King of grace, while saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”   

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] Quote from William Golding’s book, “Lord of the Flies.” 
[2] C.F.W. Walther, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1 tr. Donald E. Heck (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 5-6.
[3] Ibid. 
[4] Ibid.  

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