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JESUS DOES NOT PLAY HIDE AND SEEK WITH US

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

31 March 1991

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Isaiah 25:6-9
Mark 4:22-23,
        16:1-8
Acts 10:34-44

Preparation Verse (Mark 4:22-23):

“For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The grace of God is all around us.

It doesn't hide from us, but we do have to seek it, in a sense; for until we are willing to find it and receive it, we are unaware that it has been with us all the time.

And Jesus Christ is the focal point through whom we become aware of God's grace.

Let me “paint you a picture” as an example of what I am saying:

Suppose that there were no windows in this room, and the doors were closed and the lights were turned off. We couldn't see anything, could we?

Now suppose that none of us could speak, but we all wanted to find John Hallenbeck.

Now, John isn't the kind of person to hide from us; he will willingly allow us to find him, and besides he is right here in our midst.

How would you find him?

We could all grope around this room and touch each other, and as we found another person, we could touch the top of their head to see if it was John; but then it might be me, for the tops of our heads are similar.

And there still might be some confusion.

Or we could do a lot less groping, find our way to the light switches and turn them back on; and then all of us here could easily find John, couldn't we?

Our belief and faith in Jesus Christ is the light by which the world can find God's grace.

And as we recognize Jesus as our risen Lord and Savior, we naturally recognize our own sins and repent of them.

With that repentance comes a release, for we realize that our sins have been forgiven, and this is when we realize that God's grace is with us, and has been with us.

And something else begins to happen: we have an increased sense of love, compassion, and empathy, so that we begin to feel the pain and suffering of the whole of creation.

And, if we are truly born again, we have an overwhelming desire to make this a more loving and peaceful world, a world that follows the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

In essence, we desire to rise above the corruption of the world around us.

Before, we just didn't understand.

Isaiah writes of this in 25:6-9.

6. And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
And refined, aged wine.

7. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

8. He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
And he will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

9. And it will be said in that day,
"Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."

There is something very curious in Isaiah's words: 

In verse 6, he uses the a worldly example of banquet with wine and flesh and bone.

Then in verse 8, he says, the Lord will swallow up death for all times.

You cannot kill and eat an animal without having death, so if death is going to end, so must the killing and eating of animals end.

The key to our understanding of this passage is that the Lord will remove our reproach, the curse of the world, and we will see the Light of our Salvation.

And we will no longer be attracted to the worldly ways with all its suffering and death; we will see only the light and life.

The people who cannot see the good things of the Lord spread out before them are those who are living under a veil of unrepented and unforgiven sin, or who have never truly accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, on His terms.

But everyone is nevertheless invited, and nothing is hidden from us.

We just need to turn on the light of awakening to Jesus Christ, and there will no longer be a veil of darkness and death hanging over us.

Then we, too, will recognize our Lord and shout for joy: "This is Jesus Christ for whom we have been waiting; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."

Jesus and His heavenly banquet were always here before us, and it doesn't have choice pieces with marrow, but only the choice plant foods of Eden.

He never hid any of it, or Himself, from us.

We just had blinded ourselves by covering ourselves with our unbelief and our unrepented sins.

Unfortunately, some people who say they believe, still seek to live in the sinful ways of this world, and find excuses for doing so.

Sometimes, even we who truly believe become weak in our faith, as when things don't work out as we had expected.

The same thing happened with the disciples, following Jesus' death.

At times like these, Jesus isn't hiding from us; we have allowed the situation to blind us to the Lord's presence.

Let's take a look at Mark 16:1-8, and note what happened at the tomb:

1. And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

Before His death, Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead on the third day; and it was now the third day. Yet, they are still coming with the spices to anoint His dead body.

They had allowed Jesus' death to blind them to His life.

His life was not hiding from them.

2. And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

3. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"

They are worried about being able to enter the tomb.

They are worried that they won't be able to see and anoint Jesus' body hidden behind the entrance stone.

His body isn't hiding there.

4. And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

5. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.

We are so easily amazed by the things of God.

Not only did the Lord tell them that He would rise from the dead, but He has allowed free access to the tomb, so that there would be no doubt that even His body might still be there.

And even more, He sent an angel to witness to them that He wasn't hiding from them.

6. And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.

7. "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.' "

Not only doesn't Jesus hide from us. He tells us where He is, and when we forget, He'll remind us again.

But even then, we allow our fears to interfere with our vision of the Lord, as we are told in verse 8:

8. And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

We have a tendency to believe all kinds of strange and untrue things concerning other people, and we seem to have no hesitancy about spreading that information to everyone else.

Why do we hide even the truth, when it comes to the things of God?

Jesus doesn't hide the truth from us, why do we want to hide the truth from others?

Jesus is alive!

He's no longer dead!

We should want to shout it from the roof tops.

And did you note that the angel told the women to tell Peter, specifically?

Perhaps that was because he had denied Him three times.

Why did Peter do that, and why do we hesitate?

It's because the Holy Spirit isn't active in our lives.

But listen to Peter after the Holy Spirit came upon him, as he speaks to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10:34-44.

34. And opening his mouth, Peter said:
"I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

35. but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.

As we said in the beginning, the grace of God is freely offered to everyone.

God does not hide it from us.

But He does use us, who already believe, to reveal the truth so that the veil might be lifted from others.

Thus, we are not to hide what the Lord does not hide.

And this is what Peter is speaking of:

36. "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all) –

37. you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.

38. "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.

39. "And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross."

The same power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus, also came upon Peter, and will also come upon all believers who are willing to receive Him.

We not only have to be willing to receive the Holy Spirit, but also we must be willing to act upon His instructions; for He witnesses to us of Jesus Christ, as He is doing here with Peter.

Jesus didn't hide anything from the entire nation of Israel, yet some of them tried to hide Him from the world; but they couldn't.

Some people, I guess, haven't learned from that; for they are still trying to hide Him and his truth, so that others can't seek Him.

Listen as Peter continues his testimony:

40. "God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible,

41. not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

42. "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

43. "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

The vast majority of the people constantly wonder why the good things of God don't happen to them.

They think they are being hidden from them.

Their problem is not one of having the things of God hidden from them, but that they remain veiled from these things because they are not willing to respond to the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when we're willing, note the results:

44. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

Have you been listening to the message this morning – truly listening?

Nothing has been hidden from you.

Has the Holy Spirit descended upon you – perhaps this very morning?

Have you felt that strange inner warming?

Then you have opened your heart to Him.

But if not, then seriously look at your life and your relationship with the Lord; for if we are not His, then we are the devil’s.

Jesus doesn't play hide and seek with us.

He wants all of us to live eternally with Him.

This isn't a game!

Jesus died for each of us, and He rose again to prove that everything He said would come to pass.

Church, don't you think it's time we also stop playing our religious games, and put away our excuses, and live in the truth?

Jesus really loves us, and wants us to truly be His.

Let's here and now commit ourselves to quit hiding from Him.

Amen.

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