Finding Jesus

Remember the movie Finding Nemo? Nemo, a Coral fish born without the typical navigational equipment of other fish and a bad memory, finds himself lost. The movie is about his adventure in meeting other sea creatures along the Coral Reef. Some are kind. Some are not. Some are helpful. Some ignore him. In the end, he finds his way home.

One website listed 177 quotes from the movie. Here is one example: “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends not food.” This particular quote is full of nonsensical sayings. Given that children are not able to discern such incongruences until puberty, one wonders what the writer was trying to accomplish.

First, sharks are not nice. In fact, no sea animal is nice. Only humans have the ability to be nice. A dog can learn to be obedient, but a shark never does. When a shark is hungry, he is a mindless eating machine. That is why humans and other fish are wary of sharks and rightly so.

Second, ‘If I am to change this image, I must first change myself.’ A child does not understand the term ‘image.’ Children are painfully honest. They cannot imagine themselves as an ‘image’ or change their image.

Around the age of 7, a child becomes a justice expert. They suddenly know right from wrong and will point it out quite regularly. “Mom, you are going over the speed limit.” “Dad, we are not supposed to lie to Mom.” “Teacher, Johnny hit me.” Even though they can point out bad behavior of others, they cannot imagine changing their own.

Third, ‘Fish are friends, not food” says the shark. Really? In actuality, this quote has quite a lot to say to an adult. Adults can legitimatize their use of another person for their own gratification. In the corporate and political world, people are used up like food. Once used up, they disappear from public life. Having friends and being a friend is a lifelong, purposeful endeavor.

Yet, oddly enough, this story of a ‘fish’ who finds himself ‘lost’ but then is ‘saved’ when he finds his way home, is the story of Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, came to earth to save all of us who are lost.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:3-8).

Jesus also told a story of a son who was ‘lost’ and then ‘found.’ However, this story was more about a father’s love for his son. In this story, Jesus reveals that our ‘Father God’ desires to have a relationship with everyone he loves even when they rebel against him (Luke 15:11-32). Later Luke describes an actual person who is ‘lost’ until he ‘finds’ Jesus. Zacchaeus, the dishonorable tax collector, is transformed after finding Jesus. In truth, Jesus found Zacchaeus: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Paul wrote, What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:8-9).

So what about Finding Jesus?

At Easter, we find Jesus being beaten, tortured, persecuted, and abandoned. We find Jesus suffering a slow painful death on a cross. After Jesus died, two friends take down his bloodied body from the cross, wrap him in linen strips, and lay him in a new tomb carved in the rock, sealed with a huge stone, and guarded by Roman soldiers. Three days later, we find Jesus has risen from the dead.

Some are appalled at this description of Jesus. They would rather remember Jesus talking lovingly to children who sit on his lap. They would rather remember Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead. They would rather remember Jesus calming the storm or ascending into heaven in glory.

However, Paul locates the real Jesus in distinct and direct terms. Paul refers to this as “Good News” or gospel. Paul says that if we do not find Jesus dead on the cross and raised to new life three days later, then we are all without hope.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born (I Corinthians 15:1-8).

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:14-19).

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (I Corinthians 15:20-22).

What will our resurrected bodies be like? So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

The Nemo writer said the shark had the ability to change himself. This is not what Jesus taught. We do not have the ability to change ourselves. Only God has the ability to change us for all time just like he did with Zacchaeus:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:51-54).

Don’t look for Nemo. Find Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. You will find a real flesh and blood Jesus on that cross shedding his blood for your sins. You will find Jesus completely and unequivocally dead. Then you will find Jesus who overcame the curse of death by rising from the dead. That Jesus is alive! He is risen. He is risen indeed!


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