5th Sunday after the Epiphany
February 4, 2018
“Everyone is Looking For You”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The text that engages us is the assigned Gospel lesson for today previously read from Mark chapter 1.
My Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
What do you want out of life? They say one should always start a sermon by getting people’s attention…and that should just about do it! For some, that is a question with still much potential; the future is still so bright you gotta wear shades. For many others, we look back at our past accomplishments and know what still lays ahead and we aren’t afraid. If you know anything about human psychology, you know that psychologist Abraham Maslow famously proposed a pyramid called “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” The “hierarchy of needs” says that all people seek to attain certain physiological needs: breath, food, water, sleep, etc. The levels go up from there: safety, a sense of love and belonging, esteem, and at the pinnacle is self actualization, that is, you’ve met your full potential as an individual.
So…what do you want out of your life? I’m not asking Maslow…I’m asking YOU. That might be a lot to ask based upon a simple Gospel Lesson about Jesus moving on to a new town, but in this lesson today we see a great truth revealed: God in Christ will always and forever give us what we truly need in life.
As Mark 1 begins to draw to a close, we see Jesus doing more healings. He had cast out a demon is last week’s lesson (1:25), then in the lesson today He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (1:31), and then Jesus was besieged by all of Capernaum for healing (1:32-33). The next morning, Jesus went to a place to be alone and pray (1:35). Wouldn’t you too? You can imagine our Lord’s peace and quiet didn’t last long. Peter, leading the pack of disciples, finds Jesus and told Him, “Everyone is looking for you.”
You think? Of course they’re looking for Him! Jesus had just done some pretty awesome stuff: teaching with authority, casting out demons, and healing the sick. Certainly the people wanted more! “Where’s Jesus?” you can be sure the crowd shouted. Can you imagine the mess we would have if people today heard that there was a man working miracles down on Siesta Key Beach? It would be a snarled-up mess…think Spring Break but 100 times worse! I can imagine it’s a bit like the people right about now straining to get into the stadium in Minneapolis for tonight’s Super Bowl where parking is going for $100/car. The crowd wanted more of what He offers so they found the disciples; the disciples in turn go and find Jesus and tell Him, “Hey! There you are! Everyone is looking for you.” Why? Because they think they need what Jesus has to offer.
Little has changed today. People think they know what they want in life. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in addition to the basics of life, people want: to live with intention and purpose, to be free from worry, pain, and fear, to find a way to earn a living for their family, to feel important, or whatever list we dream up. And the general consensus is that “Jesus can deliver, right? He is God after all. Jesus will provide everything I need and not make me feel guilty about the bad things I do and He’ll understand if I do things differently than Him because times are so different today. Jesus knows I am trying to be a good person so He’ll take care of my boo boos and send lots of money my way and give me what I need and that’s what matters.” Whatever you say, pal.
People throughout the ages have been seeking something – anything – to give their life a sense of self-actualization or reach their full potential as Maslow would put it. The problem is that as sinners we will never get there! There will always be another issue, another obstacle, another ordeal, another crisis, another short coming, another failure. There is always another need. There are so many times, so many instances, in which we think we know what we want and so driven by sinful greed or pride we seek after it only to be disappointed time and time again. The endless cycle of despair robs us of any hope, any joy, any true sense of purpose; a constant lack of fulfillment because we have a false sense of what we truly need!
Dear friends, that is not the kind of Savior we have in Christ Jesus. Jesus will always and forever give us what we truly need in life. Jesus didn’t stick around Capernaum for an encore; He said “let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” He didn’t come to be the ultimate doctor or caterer or ultimate Mr. fix-it. He came to not only address our needs right now, but also address what you and I REALLY need: the forgiveness of our sins before God, the promise of eternal life to come after this life, and the hope that comes through faith.
30 years after he led the charge to find Jesus, Peter would write “Through (Christ) you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21). You and I have hope, a living hope (1 Peter 1:3), because of what God in Christ has already done for you in a manger and at the cross and at the empty rock-hewn tomb. Our crucified and risen Savior forgives us in order to give; to give a lasting sense of love…love of God and love for neighbor. That’s what should be at the top of the pyramid.
We are loved by God that we may love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus came to preach the Gospel and, in doing so, He gives you forgiveness, eternal salvation, and hope. You can now show and share that same forgiveness and life with those you meet and greet on a daily basis. As the body of Christ in this place, we also spread that Gospel message through word and deed that others might also have what it is that Jesus gives, for He always and forever give us what we truly need in life.
The Super Bowl is tonight; kick-off is in about 6 hours. Everyone is looking for that edge or key to winning the “Big Game.” Who’s going to win…the Eagles or Patriots? Doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. What do YOU want out of life? Funny commercials and a good halftime show, or a good and loving and forgiving God who gives you a true sense of hope and purpose that you might seek Him throughout your daily life and be a good, faithful steward of all things? Yeah…that’s what I thought.