The Light - Week Five: "Everyone Is Searching For You."

 


Season of Epiphany - Series: The Light

The Light of the World has come; what do we do now?

This series will help us learn more about walking in the Light and being lights in the world. 

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Epiphany. 

We will read a story about some incredible healings that Jesus did and what that revealed about the impact of his ministry. 

And we'll talk for a minute about demons, exorcisms, and miraculous healings, and I can't promise it won't get weird.  Stick with me. 

So, what do we believe about healings and exorcisms?  Let's start with the bad stuff first---demons and exorcisms.  

If we did a poll today, about half of the folks in here would have some disbelief in the idea of demon possession or healthy skepticism.  The other half would be a mixed bag.

Yet, some of the most famous horror movies that have been made focused on this topic.  Movies like The Exorcist, Exorcist III, The Conjuring franchise, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are just a few of the films that both scared and delighted horror movie fans over the years. 

And the "based on a true story" disclaimer always seems to follow films like this.  

So, at the very least, you might say that we are curious about this kind of thing. 

What about miraculous healings?  We've probably all seen or heard about faith healers, and more than a few are on TV.  We might talk about Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Oral Roberts, to name a few. 

Now, there have been enough documentaries, investigations, and the like in a lot of these so-called faith healers to determine that almost all of their ministry is bull. 

And yet, there are also stories of people who were healed. 

This is one of these things that many of us would have nuanced opinions about.  We might disbelieve the flashy faith healers, but we hold on to the notion that miraculous healings might be possible. 

For those of us who have either experienced miraculous healings or have had loved ones who have experienced them, this is a conundrum.  But I think that no matter where we land on this, we hold out hope that it's true. 

So, what's at the heart of all of this?  What's the driving question at the heart of our interest or curiosity about exorcisms and healings?  

I think it's this: 

"Is there more?"

 We all have a desire to know if there is something on the other side of our understanding of reality.  We wonder if there is the possibility of miracles.  We shudder at the notion of evil.  And we dream about a world made new. 

Today, we will be reading about how Jesus did some amazing things and how people were drawn to his ministry because they longed for more.  

Here's what I want us to hold on to: 

THE LIGHT DRAWS PEOPLE NEAR TO GOD

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Simon's house in Capernaum 

This personalizes things, brings the healing home, so to speak. 

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Word travels fast in a small village. 
Jesus heals and casts out demons. 
1st century misunderstandings about demon possession. 
But there does seem to be something here---what's up with keeping the demons silent?  

These were not uncommon stories about rabbis and holy people in the 1st Century.  "The Legends of the Jews." 
 
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus is drained by all of it; Disciples come looking.  

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Jesus was gearing up to do what he knew he needed to do.  
He goes from small village to small village, healing and practicing exorcisms. 

We can get lost in the story, debating the miraculous, or find its meaning in the question Jesus was answering in his ministry.  

People: "Is there more?"   Jesus: "Heck yes, there is."

And this drew people to him in droves.  

Jesus' miracles of healing demonstrated how the world ought to be.  He couldn't heal everyone, but he traveled around healing, teaching, and preaching because he was showing everyone what it looks like when God gets what God wants in the world.  

He gave glimpses of the kingdom of God.  

And he bore witness to the fact that there is indeed more on the other side of what we can perceive, and despite the presence of sickness, trouble, strife, and evil in the world, they don't get to win.  There is more on the other side of them.  

So how do we bring the light, and draw people to it? 

1. We should embody that there is more every day of our lives. 
2. Followers of Jesus should expect the unexpected and embrace it. 
3. When we show our light by bringing shalom---people will be drawn to it. 

Telling the story of our miracles.  We can't be shy about this.  

We also need to be mindful that it can be challenging for those who have not had these kinds of experiences to speak about their pain.  There needs to be humility and compassion in our sharing.  

THE LIGHT DRAWS PEOPLE NEAR TO GOD


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