That I Might Preach

peters-mother-in-law

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Why did Jesus come? Why was Jesus born into this world, in flesh like ours? What did He come to do? Well, He tells us: “For this reason I came: that I might preach” (1:38). And what did He come to preach? “The time is fulfilled. The good and gracious time of God’s salvation is fulfilled. The Reign of God has come near in Me. Repent and believe in that Gospel” (1:15). Jesus has come to preach. But why do people seek Him out? Do they seek Jesus for the same reason that He came? Peter and the other disciples say to Jesus, “Everyone is seeking you.” But every time someone seeks Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, it’s for the wrong reasons. Jesus’ family seeks Him to take Him away from the crowds, because He’s “out of His mind;” the leaders of Israel are constantly seeking to arrest, kill, and destroy Jesus; Judas seeks an opportunity to betray Jesus; the women seek a dead Jesus in the tomb. Here, they seek Jesus because they’ve heard about the miraculous things He is doing. But whenever people seek Jesus for the wrong reasons, He goes away, He withdraws, He leaves. Jesus is always leaving places in the Gospel of Mark. He’s always moving, always journeying, always continuing on. Jesus came to preach, and when He preaches, demons are cast out, the sick are healed, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised. But people want to separate the miracles from Jesus’ preaching. They seek signs, instead of seeking to hear Jesus preaching. That’s part of the reason why Jesus tells people at least nine times not to talk about Him when they are healed. He didn’t come to set up a healing clinic; He came to preach. But people then, as always, are interested in a spectacle, in signs, in the miraculous and spectacular. Words are okay, but words are cheap.

Preaching is fine, but it’s the healing we want. Preaching is okay, but it’s the miracles that draw the crowds. Yes, they draw crowds. They draw such large crowds that Jesus can’t even move freely anymore. When Jesus cleanses the leper, He tells the leper not to talk about Him; but because he does, Jesus has to stay out in the wilderness places. The crowds actually keep Jesus from doing what He came to do. Because they want signs (8:11, 12). But Jesus’ word is the word of the almighty God; the word through which all things were made; the word that accomplishes and does what it says. Jesus heals, but it is the outcome of His preaching. Jesus preaches, and demons are cast out. Jesus preaches, and the sick are healed. Jesus preaches, and the lepers are cleansed. Jesus has come to heal the whole person, body and soul, but we so often want to separate the miraculous from His words. But without His words, the miracles are simply temporary. Sure, these people get better health; they get longer lives; they live for a while with lighter burdens in their bodies. But Jesus is not content with temporary healing. Jesus is not content with a few more minutes, or weeks, or years. He doesn’t want to leave His creation the way it is, so that people live a little longer before they die.

That’s why He keeps moving, keeps going, keeps preaching, all the way to Jerusalem. That’s where He’s going, because there He can preach a final word that makes all His miracles into signs. Without Jesus’ resurrection, the miracles are just miracles. But when Jesus rises from the dead, His miracles become signs that point to complete healing, the end of demonic oppression, and eternal life. Sometimes He does heal us still. Sometimes He gives us more time. But He came to preach. If we are looking for temporary healing or temporary health or more time in this fallen creation, we are missing the point. It is the words of Jesus that give true life. Jesus’ words to you: “Your sins are forgiven.” “Take and eat My Body and take and drink My Blood.” These words are your health in the midst of sickness. His words are your cleansing in the midst of disease. His words are protection in the midst of the attacks of the devil. His words are comfort in the midst of suffering. His words are peace in the midst of strife. His words are life in the midst of death. Because your life is not only in this body, in this creation. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. The healing you see, the life you see, the peace you see, are only temporary. The unseen things are eternal. No matter what He gives you for the sake of this life and this body, it will all come to an end. He doesn’t want just some people healed for a little while. He wants everyone healed forever. He doesn’t want just a little peace in the absence of war; He wants eternal peace. He doesn’t want just a little better life, a more comfortable life, a little happiness here and there. He wants it all fixed, all restored, all resurrected. He wants you whole and alive and restored forever. And just as He does not stop until He gets to the cross and to the resurrection, so He will not stop until He has preached life into this old, dying creation. He will not stop until He has done what He came to do. Until He has finished what He came to do for you.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).

— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 2/7/15

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