Epiphany 5 – February 6th, 2012
Everyone is Looking for Jesus
“Everyone is looking for you, Jesus”. So Peter said when they found him alone, praying. And how true it was. Jesus had made quite a name for himself in a short period of time. His healing touch, and his authority to cast out demons had caused quite a stir. Everyone seemed to want something from Jesus. Everyone was looking for him.
It's much the same today. Everyone is looking for Jesus. At least, everyone is looking for something, and if Jesus will give it to them, then they want Jesus. Do you want to find a job? Ask Jesus. Do you want your husband to appreciate you more? Ask Jesus. Do you want your aches and pains to go away? Ask Jesus. Do you want to get over the death of your loved one? Ask Jesus.
In Capernaum, if you had a demon, or you were sick, then you were looking for Jesus. But that's not why he came. Sure, he had compassion on so many. Sure, his heart went out to those who suffered. But his purpose was different. He wasn't there to give them what they wanted, as much as to provide for them what they needed.
When Peter and the others find Jesus off alone, praying, he says, “Let's go to the next towns so that I may preach there also, for that is why I came”. Yes. It's the preaching. That's the reason. He went to the synagogue in Capernaum and preached. He would go to the mount and the plain and the villages and towns and preach. Even in the very temple in Jerusalem, he would preach. That's why he came. To give them what they really needed – the word.
It's still the Epiphany season, and we're still answering that big question, “Who is this Jesus who was born as our Savior?” What kind of savior is he? What is he all about? What did he come to do and why? Today it's quite clear: he came to preach.
But what? We must listen closely to his words. We must take note of just what he says, even more so than what he does (although the two go hand in hand). And as we listen to Jesus we will hear the message ring out – that he came to seek and save the lost. That he came to give freely the blessings of his Father. Forgiveness of sins, new and eternal life. To make us his friends, not slaves. To call us to follow him. To defeat the strongman, our enemy the devil. To make us disciples by his baptism and teaching. To feed us in his meal, with his body, his blood. To be handed over to the Jews and Romans, to suffer for us, to die for us, and on the third day to rise from the dead, for us. This is what he preached. This is why he came. To proclaim himself, our savior, and to back up his talk with a perfect walk.
Nowadays people are still looking for Jesus to do all sorts of things for them, but not always what he means to do for them. We think small. We want this or that, not the grand gifts he offers. We want actions, not words. We want to see it now, not have to hold on to promises. We want the glitz and success and fireworks of glory, not the suffering and dying and shame and defeat of Calvary.
Our old nature, anyway, chases after a Jesus that really isn't Jesus. A Jesus of our own imagination, made in our own image. A Jesus at our beck and call for all of life's little problems, to make the boo-boos better.
But much better is the real Jesus. The Jesus who calls us and recreates us into his own image, and gives us new life forever. The Jesus who gives us his word – and what a word it is! That word, that eternal word, which is our rock in the storm, our comfort in sorrow, our fortress in the raging battle. I think of Luther's hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” and the line, “And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife – let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won, the kingdom ours remaineth”. Yes, we have it all because we have Jesus and his word.
Last week, we included in our prayers a Pastor Jeff Geske, a classmate of mine, who was with his family in a terrible car accident. His wife and two of his three children were killed. A terrible tragedy on so many levels, for him personally, for his son, for his congregation, where he had only begun serving about a month ago. Well on Tuesday, Pastor Geske posted these words of encouragement, and I share them with you now:
“Thank you! I would like to thank everyone for the words and love shown to me during this most difficult time at the death of Laura and Joshua and Joy. I rejoice knowing that they are now in heaven with our Savior Jesus. I miss them so much, but I know that one great and glorious day, they will along with Jesus welcome me home to heaven.
May this difficult time for me remind you and encourage you to continue to express your love to your family. They are so precious and truly a gift from God on loan to us. May God comfort you as He is comforting me. Never forget how much God loves you! John 3:16-17
Take comfort in the five most important words you can ever know which are, "Jesus died for my sins! Jesus loves you and so I ask and encourage you to love others and share His love, forgiveness, and salvation with them. Heaven is our home!”
What a powerful word Jesus preached, that it brings comfort even to this family tragedy. A Savior who came not just to wow us with miracles, or to make our lives free of trouble, but to proclaim an eternal word of forgiveness and salvation. That's the Jesus we know. That's the Jesus we look to, and listen to. That's Pastor Geske's Jesus, and yours, and mine. In His Name, Amen.