"Who is This?" **a sermon for 5 Epiphany**
We are almost at the end of the short
season of Epiphany. Epiphany, you may recall, is about seeing the signs. Seeing
the signs pointing to Jesus’ identity.
Mark’s Gospel, especially, does not want you and me to miss the clues
pointing directly to who Jesus is-- the Son of God, the Anointed One.
Last week we saw Jesus teaching
with power and authority. Those who
heard Jesus were amazed. Here is, by
ancient near East standards, a young man daring to teach. Neither does Jesus have the benefit of formal
training like the Rabbis or other religious leaders. Yet, Jesus’ words draw the people.
Jesus’ power and authority are
on full display again this morning.
Jesus’ teaching stuns the synagogue in Capernaum. Jesus’ authority is not limited to words,
however. He also has the power to send
evil spirits running. Needless to say,
this attracts attention! A lot of
Following Sabbath service in the
synagogue, Jesus goes with Simon Peter to the disciple’s home. A distressing sight greets the company. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. She is in bed with a fever. They were, no doubt, expecting a meal ready
and waiting. Dinner will now have to
Jesus immediately heals Simon’s
mother-in-law. Just a gentle touch is
all it takes. The fever leaves her on the
spot. She is restored to health and
wholeness. So complete is her healing,
that she gets up and offers the traditional hospitality. Dinner is soon served and on the table.
Word travels fast in small
towns. Capernaum is no different. Before dinner is done, there is a crowd
gathered outside Simon’s house. People
have brought their sick to be healed.
Those possessed by unclean spirits come to be cleansed. Jesus is pressed upon on every side by those
So great are the demands made
upon Jesus, that Jesus retreats. He
finds a quiet place. There Jesus prays
and meditates. Jesus communes with God
and draws strength from that connection.
There Jesus is able to refocus and recenter upon God’s mission and God’s
call for Him.
Notice Jesus’ reaction to the
disciples. “Teacher,” they say, “we’ve
been looking for you! The people are
asking for you.” The people are looking
to make Jesus into some kind of healing machine. But not just any kind of healing
machine—THEIR healing machine. They want
Jesus to stay with them and be their own personal healer.
Jesus responds by leaving. He actually picks up and leaves
Capernaum! Jesus is clear about His
mission and He is not merely a healing machine.
Jesus has come to do a lot more than that. Jesus has come to call people back to God and
to set them free from what keeps us separated from God’s love.
And the message is not just for
the people of Capernaum. God’s abundant,
wondrous love is for all people—Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, female, rich,
poor, Republican, Democrat . . . you get the picture. God does not want anyone to miss out on
relationship with our Loving Creator.
So, Jesus must travel to share
that Good News. Although, He will return
periodically to Capernaum. Capernaum
kinda becomes home base for Jesus’ ministry.
One can still go to Capernaum today and see the octagon shaped building
believed to be Simon-Peter’s home.
A common theme in the Gospels is
the surprise of who knows Jesus’ identity.
Time and time again, it is not the religious leaders or those in power
who see who Jesus is. Those on the
margins are the ones who see clearly Jesus as the Son of God: those with
unclean spirits, an outcast Samaritan woman.
Jesus’ experience in Capernaum
has me wondering. How have I tried to
limit Jesus or put Jesus in a box? When
have I failed to see Jesus for who He is?
Maybe the stress and cares of life distract me. Perhaps I am too focused on myself and what I
want to see.
The season of Lent is ten days
away. Lent is a season set apart. A season for looking inward and
self-examination. I encourage you to join
me in using the Lenten journey to slow down.
To take the time to truly journey with Jesus and to learn more about
Him, our selves, and our neighbors, along the way.