Throughout the Bible there are patterns. It’s actually these patterns that should form what we believe. Instead of isolating individual verses and taking them out of context we should pay attention to the patterns of the Bible to form what we believe.
One such pattern we see is that God has a holy habit of pursuing people.
If you remember back in the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it wasn’t the first humans bashfully approaching God to apologize. It was God, the one who was sinned against, who went after his fallen image bearers.
In hiding, God invited them to come out of hiding. He still desired a relationship with them. As the Bible continues, we see God going after Moses, Israel, David and others. He continued to pursue unholy people. He did this, I suggest, because he is holy love himself.
When we fast forward to the New Testament to the Emmaus Road in Luke 24, we see this pattern unfold before us of God pursuing people.
Two men are headed away from Jerusalem and Jesus goes after them. We’d be wise to not gloss over the subtle message of them leaving Jerusalem, the place Jesus took them.
As is the character of God, Jesus, who is the resurrected man, yet still the second person of the Triune God, he goes after them and seeks an encounter. But have you thought about why in the world Jesus would go after these two men? They are leaving town, they’ve deserted his mission! They’ve given up!
I think much of it has to do with Psalm 30:5, “God’s anger is for a moment, his favor is for a lifetime.” This might sound cliche but I believe it to be true: God wants you to live your best life every single day of your life. And no matter who you are, your best life every single day of your life is a life of knowing Jesus, the crucified one who is risen. But before we can know Jesus, we must encounter Jesus.
Jesus, in his holy love character, is not content to leave his disciples in their wayward ways – he pursues them. Eventually he would have supper with the men and at the table their eyes are opened to Him. They realize they’ve been entertaining, not an angel, on the road to Emmaus, but God of very God. The one of when he opened the Scriptures, their hearts burned!
As their eyes are opened, they are opened to him.
Back to the garden. When the first humans sinned, their eyes were opened to their wretchedness of sin, self, and shame. Yet, just as God went after the first image bearers in the garden and clothed them, so God, in Christ, goes after these image bearers in their confusion.
When we consider patterns of the Bible, we see a pattern emerge of God loving people in a way that will be rivaled by none. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means we can still encounter Him today, he still comes after us. While we venture around, confused and questioning God, God is not intimidated by our shenanigans, he loves us through and through. He is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to eternal life.
God loves you. He is for you. He pursues you. The question is, “How will you respond to his holy love?”
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.