“This Is Why I’ve Come” February 4, 2024

“This Is Why I’ve Come” February 4, 2024

Posted by on Feb 4, 2024 in Sermon archives

“This Is Why I’ve Come”

Isaiah 40:21-31

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39

Many eons ago, I lived in an old miner’s cabin up what was called the Nine Mile Valley in western Montana. Most folks would call this the middle of nowhere but even though it was remote, I did have neighbors. They weren’t close by-not by any means-but I got to know a lot of them nonetheless. One such neighbor was the household of Jack and Peggy Lambert. Jack worked at the local pulp mill and, along with Peggy and his boys, operated a small scale farming and livestock operation. I got to know the Lambert.  family when I heard that they were selling whole milk for $3 a gallon. Now, this stuff was the real deal. It was pasteurized, but other than that this milk was straight from the cow: no tampering, no cream separation, just whole milk in most every sense of the word. The first time I showed up to buy a gallon, Peggy handed it to me in a wide mouth one gallon mayonnaise jar.

“We’d like the jars back,” she said, but I was so busy marveling at the thick layer of cream floating on top that I almost didn’t hear her. “Sure thing,” I said, but by the time I had had a good taste of this wonderful stuff, I was ready to go out and buy a truckload of mayonnaise jars just to be sure that Peggy never ran out.

I mean, I grew up drinking milk that came from the store but it seemed that the older I got the less that I liked the stuff.

It’s not so much that it tasted bad to me; I just found it boring after a while which is something I could never say about the nectar of the gods that came from the little dairy of Jack and Peggy Lambert..

There was one thing, however. After a while, once I was buying milk on a regular basis, I noticed something. I noticed that Peggy was always there to greet me and it appears she was glad to see me, but her greeting was always the same, ‘what do you want?,” she would say. “What do you want?” Now I’m a pretty sensible guy and it takes a lot to hurt my feelings, but when someone says “what do you want?” instead of, “hey, how are you doing?” Or even. “I haven’t seen your ugly mug in a while,” I can’t help but get a little defensive. I mean, it seems to me that  “what do you want?” has the same ring to it as “What are you doing here?” and that is never a pleasant thing to hear when you show up at someone’s doorstep.

It was all resolved One day, however, when I pulled up to the house to purchase my bi- weekly gallon of ambrosia when Peggy surprised me by saying, “you know, I hope it doesn’t bother you that I always ask “what do you want?” It’s just that no one ever comes here unless they want something, so I guess I just got in the habit of always asking, “what do you want?”  I told her that it didn’t bother me a bit and that I totally understand. As I was driving away, however, it did bother me a bit that apparently these fine folks rarely greeted visitors who stopped by just to, well, visit and I thought that was rather sad. That’s when I resolved to extend my little milk buying excursions and get to know these people better.

The next thing I knew I was sitting in their kitchen drinking coffee and plotting new ways to make the world a better place, even if that only meant complaining about it a bunch.

The point I’m trying to make, in a rather roundabout way, is that Jesus always calls us into connection with each other. He calls us into connection because with that connection comes understanding and with that understanding comes healing and it seems to me that  a meaningful connection can never really begin until someone asks the question , “What do you want?”

In today’s   lesson, Mark paints us quite a picture. When Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, it was witnessed by many people in the little town of Capernaum, and so the news was out that a certain Jesus of Nazareth was in town and he was healing people left and right. So naturally, as mark tells us in vs32, “That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door!”  As we would expect, Jesus exercised a compassion that was truly remarkable by healing these multitudes. But, as we read in vs 35 “While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”

Now, can’t you just see this? Simon and those with him had just witnessed the most incredible thing of their lives. I mean, there hadn’t been this kind of excitement in their little town… well, forever. So naturally they didn’t want it to end. “Everybody’s looking for you!” They said, and I’m sure that they were.

But at the same time, I’m sure that everybody was taking a good second look at this man they called Jesus. You might say that they were struggling with questions: questions like’ what are you doing here?’ ‘Why have you come?’ Or even What do you want?’

The thing to remember then, is that when Simon and the others found him and exclaimed. “Everybody’s looking for you,” they couldn’t help themselves but to throw this little guilt  trip hoping to get Jesus to return. Put his reply was priceless: “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.”

This is why I’ve come. Not to stay in one place to heal and care for those in distress. This is why I’ve come; not to perform neat tricks with fish and bread or turn water into the best wine you’ve ever tasted. No, This is why I’ve come: to spread the good news that our God is a loving God. This is why I’ve come: to preach the message of good news that mankind can be saved from the penalty of their sins  and receive eternal life. This is why  I’ve come: to spread the joy of salvation as far and wide as I possibly can. This is why I’ve come: to offer new life and new hope in the Kingdom of God. This is why I’ve come.

So if you find yourself troubled that there were probably some in the courtyard at Capernaum who missed out; maybe they were late or maybe Jesus just didn’t get around to them; if that seems unfair, well then I suppose it is. It will always be difficult for us to get our heads wrapped around the context of a creator who values our eternal salvation over a toothache, but there you have it. Let’s just be glad that he has given us the tools and the wherewithal to be of help for those who need it. Amen and S

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