Have You Found Jesus? 2-8-15

In this sermon, I explore Mark 1:29-39. Jesus has been active in Capernaum, but when everyone starts looking for him, he decides to leave. Apparently Jesus isn’t open to “being found.”

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/have-you-found-jesus-2-8-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Rituals are…at times…a wonderful thing…something that we do for a specific purpose as a reminder…or as a way of maintaining a connection. (pause) But at other times…a ritual is something that needs to happen as a way to maintain order.
I got to thinking about this second type of ritual the other day as I was preparing this message…and as I thought about it…I recognized a ritual that has formed over at my house…one that is enacted pretty much every night just before we head off to bed…finding the cat.
You see…the kids head off to bed earlier than my wife and I do…and its pretty normal that when we put our daughter to bed, that we leave her door open so that light will come in from the hallway while she’s falling asleep. But we always try to close her door when we go to bed…and this is because of our cat.
If any of you are cat owners…you know that they have the tendency to be independent and not controllable. They go where they want when they want…and often times this roaming around happens at night. We discovered pretty quickly that when the cat decides to roam into Ava’s room in the middle of the night…she wakes up…and that means everyone wakes up…and so, the simple solution, since we can’t just tell the cat to stay out of there…is to pull her door shut…but before we can do that…we also have to make sure that the cat hasn’t already ventured in there and curled up in her room somewhere…and yes this is a common occurrence…and so, pretty much every night as we’re shutting all the lights off we ask the question…have you found the cat?
And we never know just where she might be hiding…sometimes out in the open, or other times she’s curled up somewhere secretive and it takes us awhile to find her. And as I was thinking about that, I remembered an old Far Side comic that I saw once…there’s an open in a house, and the lady who lives there is at the front door where she is greeted by a couple of missionaries asking her “Have you found Jesus?” (pause) Now the first time I saw this I wondered what was supposed to be so funny…until I looked a little closer to discover a pair of feet decked out in sandals hiding behind the curtain…because Jesus was hiding…waiting to be found.
And apparently in the world of this particular comic…Jesus, much like my cat…needs to be hunted for…needs to be found. (pause) Now that obviously draws us into today’s scripture lesson…now today’s story is yet another direct continuation of the ongoing narrative of Mark chapter 1. Following last week’s lesson where Jesus has been in the synagogue casting out a particularly troublesome demon, he and his disciples head across the street into Peter’s house where Jesus first heals Peter’s mother in law…and then a little later on in the day the entire city crowds around the door watching as Jesus heals person after person…casting out demon after demon.
And then…following all of this, early the next morning…long before sunup…Jesus rolls out of bed…walks out of town in the surrounding wilderness to get himself just a little bit of God time…and as we see…his departure, is not well received in Capernaum. (pause)
The first things we hear is that Peter and the other disciples…however many of them there might have been at this point…are hunting for Jesus…and we also hear that they are not alone. And you know what…the notion of hunting for Jesus strikes me as significant…because there’s really nothing gentle and passive about hunting is there? Any hunters out there will likely agree with me…its something that you’ve got to really go after…to hunt for something means you are fully invested in everyway…you are dedicated all of your energy into finding whatever it is that you’re hunting for.
And as I mentioned…Peter and the rest of the crew aren’t the only ones on the hunt for Jesus…we hear that EVERYONE…is looking for him…Everyone…and once Jesus find out that he’s been targeted…he tells the crew…hey guys…lets head out…we’ve got work to do elsewhere. (pause)
And you know what…that’s always struck me as a little odd. Clearly the people of Capernaum want Jesus to stick around…they seem open to what he has to say and they certainly appreciate the miracles that he’s been dolling out…and so, it raises the question of just why Jesus wants to skedattle out of there. You’d think he want to stick around…clearly he’s got a receptive audience now…all it took was casting out a few demons…curing a few fevers and now he’s good to go right? (pause)
But that’s not how Jesus reacts is it…Jesus doesn’t seem to like being hunted…he doesn’t like it that everyone is searching intently for him…and I often time wonder just why that is…and perhaps we can start to find the answer to that question if we stop and think about the season of the church year that we’re in right now.
Today is of course, just about the end of Epiphany…just one more week and then we hint Lent…and think for a moment about just what Epiphany means…it started back in January when the 3 wise men followed a star which revealed the Christ child to them…and all the way through this season…short though it may be this year…we been hearing story after story of how Christ is revealed within the world…of how God in human form becomes known. (pause)
Never do we hear about how Jesus is found by anyone…about how the Christ is simply identified by anyone…Christ…God…Jesus…is always revealed to someone…Christ is never found…because he is the one that does the finding.
Christ is the one that walked up to Peter and Andrew along the seashore and said follow me…he found them…not the other way around…and likewise…it was Jesus who revealed himself to the people of Capernaum…and he did so through those miracles that he performed the night before he headed off into the wilderness.
And so, the next morning…as all these people are seeking him out…we have to stop and think about their motivation…did they really want to hear more about kingdom of God…or did they simply want this magical healer to stick around and take care of any problems that they might experience.
I fear that the people of Capernaum were trying to find Jesus on their terms…they were trying to put him in a box…to limit what he was in the world to do…and to keep him for themselves. (pause) But just like my cat has a mind of her own…and goes where she will and refuses to play by my rules…Jesus isn’t going to be contained either.
That’s why he takes his disciples out into the neighboring towns…because that’s what he’s here to do…not to get stuck in healing mode…though he certainly does a lot of that…but to continue to reveal the truth that the kingdom of God has come near…and to continue to free individuals from those things that hinder their live in relationship with God.
And as we realize that…perhaps we need to stop and think about our own motivations when we seek God. Are we seeking God in order to seek his will…to spread his gospel…or as I fear…do we all too often fall in the trap of seeking God when we need something from him? Do we seek to put God in a box…to keep God limited to our terms? (pause)
I pose that question…because I think we all fall in that trap sometimes…and its not only important to avoid placing limitations upon God…but its vital to realize that God…will not…be controlled. We cannot place God in a box….we cannot keep God limited to what we think is right…because God will not be hindered.
This is the good news that Jesus came to proclaim when he said that the kingdom of God has come near…We have a God who not only spoke the entire universe into existence simply because he chose to…but we have a God who set aside EVERYTHING…and became human like us…simply in order to be with us…because He wants us to be in the kingdom along with him…and by become human…by taking on flesh and dwelling among us…God utterly destroyed those human limitations that hinder us from taking an active role in the kingdom…from finding a living relationship together with our maker….and since we all know that we just can’t do anything to get ourselves up there…he gave up everything to come down here…and this is what he seeks to reveal to us. (pause)
This is why he proclaimed the gospel…and this is why we are called to proclaim that same gospel that we have first received…so that one day all may hear it…and one day the glorious truth of that gospel will be revealed to everyone.
We don’t find Jesus…Jesus finds us…Jesus reveals himself…to us…no matter how hard we try to make it work the other way around. So don’t ask the question “Have you found Jesus…” Rather, ask yourself “Has Jesus…found me?” Amen.

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