Quest for the living Jesus goes on

CHALLENGE Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster
CHALLENGE Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster
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I am fascinated by the newspaper stories about the quest for Lord Lucan.

Lord Lucan, as I’m sure you know, disappeared in 1974 when suspected of murdering his children’s nanny and attacking his wife, and was officially declared presumed dead earlier this year.

Since his disappearance, journalists have travelled miles to exotic locations in their hope of finding Lord Lucan alive and well and living under a new identity.

Their resourcefulness and imagination reminds me of how Christians, acting out of very different motivations, continue to seek out the living Jesus in the most unlikely places.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is alive and living alongside us centuries after he was publicly executed. Unlike the Lord Lucan story, we accept that he died and believe he came back to life. But we also know that it isn’t always that easy to recognise him, so the Bible gives us some clues.

In Matthew’s Gospel we read: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

I find these words wonderful and challenging.

When I go to the prisons, and I’m struggling with the crimes people have committed, I’m challenged to see 
the face of Jesus in their faces, and treat people with dignity.

When I meet people who are homeless, or addicted to drugs, the Bible invites me to see in them the face of Jesus and do my best to work to their good.

When I’m tired and someone knocks at the door who I do not wish to see, I am reminded that it might be Jesus himself who has knocked on my door, and I do my best to offer what hospitality I am able.

I imagine that if Lord Lucan had been found, the newspapers would have had much to say.

Yet there are unsung heroes all around us who have done just that – who serve in soup kitchens and visit people in hospitals and nursing homes, who give significant amounts of time and money to charitable work and even place their lives at risk for others in whom they see the living face of Jesus.

Lord Lucan may finally be certified dead, but the quest for the living Jesus goes on in the faces of those living around us.

With that certainty comes the challenge to listen, to serve, to love.