If you want to make friends fast at an airport sometime, stand there with a big "welcome home" banner. Recently, we were contacted by a young woman who has been a part of our Native American work in the past - and who is going through a time of severe struggle right now. She really wants to turn things around and asked us if she could come and spend some recovery time with our Team in New Jersey. We had been praying for her, so we were wide open to her coming. Well, we scrambled to find a way to get an airplane ticket for her . . . and then decided to try and let her know we still think she's special- with a special airport welcome. We got some colorful helium balloons and a bright welcome home banner - and five of us stationed ourselves at the end of the concourse she was scheduled to come in on. It was really funny to watch the reactions of the pretty expressionless arriving passengers - they laughed, they waved, they thanked us as if this welcome party was for them. It was fun - until we saw the last flight attendant coming down the concourse with no other passengers coming behind her. The person we had come to welcome - never came.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about No One to Welcome.
We're still praying that young woman will follow through and leave the dark situation she's in.
But I want to tell you - it's a pretty sad feeling when you prepare a big welcome - and the one you did it for never comes.
Jesus knows that feeling. He's prepared a welcome home - an expensive welcome - for some people who have never come. Maybe you.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 19:41. "As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, 'If you had only known this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. You did not recognize the time of God's coming.'" That scene, that feeling has been repeated many times since then, as someone Jesus was inviting to have a relationship with Him was too busy or too disinterested to respond. He actually weeps over those who do not respond to His love - because of what He wanted to do for them. "If you had only known what would bring you peace." Could it be that the peace that has eluded you for so long is peace that only God's Son can give you? Could it be there has never been peace because there's never been room for Jesus?
I know how sad I felt when the person we worked to bring home never came. Imagine how Jesus feels when someone He died for doesn't come? The Bible clearly spells out the uncomfortable fact that we are all on death row spiritually - we have sinned against the God who made us, we have insisted on living our way instead of His way. And the Bible says, "The soul that sins will die" - a life here without God and His love . . . a life forever without God and His love - and no pain relievers to cover the pain. Except for the loving intervention of God's Son Jesus. The Bible declares, "Christ died for our sins." For your sins. We did the sinning - Jesus did the dying.
And having purchased your rescue with His blood, He holds up a banner for you - "Welcome home." He's been holding it for a long time, waiting for you to come to Him in faith, telling Him you are putting your total trust in Him for a relationship with God. But you haven't come home. Someday you won't be able to . . . the banner will be gone, the open arms will be gone. But today, you can still come.
Too many times the banner's been up and Jesus was waiting - and you didn't come. Please - come today . . . make this the day when you finally experience the wonderful love of the welcome home of Jesus Christ.