Monday, February 2, 2009

What Do You Want with Us Jesus?

Last Sunday we heard Jesus’ Message from the gospel of Mark telling us, “Times up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.” (Mk. 1:15 MSG) Today Jesus is teaching with authority and we are astounded because it’s so different from what we’ve been used to hearing.
Suddenly, there’s a disturbance in the congregation. Somehow, someone, who wasn’t spiritually clean, found their way into the temple and asked the Rabbi, Jesus, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” or as The Message says, “What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene!” One translation I read said, “Why are you interfering with us?”
The unclean spirit(s) who were living in this man knew who Jesus was. They thought because they knew him and could call him by name that they could control him, that his power would be useless against them. They were wrong.
Jesus didn’t say any magic words or utter any incantations; he just plainly told them, “Shut up! Get out of him!” And they did. But not without first letting everyone present know that they didn’t like what was happening.
The religious people of Jesus’ day did everything they could to keep the temple clean and pure. Laws had been written that were supposed to keep anyone or anything that was unclean from getting in and defiling the temple. This particular day whatever barriers they had in place to protect them from the filth outside failed. A man with an unclean spirit(s) got through their barricades. Maybe he’d been there before but he had never encountered Jesus before. The man’s unclean spirit knew it had met its match.
Here we are today in our temple. Do you suppose there are any here this morning who are controlled by unclean spirits? Will they want to make themselves heard? Will they create a disturbance and protest about the good news preached here today?
When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness they learned that God could talk directly to people. They had seen Moses when he came out of the Tent of the Meeting after talking with God. They had seen what the top of the mountain looked like when Moses was up there talking with God getting the Law, the Ten Commandments. They had decided that God was dangerous and they didn’t want too much direct contact with him. That might lead to their deaths and they didn’t want that. So they asked Moses to do all their talking with God for them.
Moses realized he wasn’t going to be here forever interceding for these people. God knew that too. He already knew then what he was going to do. He was going to raise up a prophet like Moses from among these people. They were to listen obediently to him. He did this in answer to their plea when they were all gathered at the mountain. God would tell him what to say and he will pass on everything I command him.
We now know he was talking about Jesus. He was the prophet God raised up from among the people. He is the one we are to listen obediently to.
I wonder though, since we all have something unclean within us, are we calling out too, “What do want with us, Jesus? Why are you interfering with us?”
What do you suppose Jesus does want with us today? Are we willing to let him interfere in our lives? Are we listening when he tells our unclean spirits to shut up and get out? Do the spirits that inhabit us scream their displeasure when they are told to leave? Or do we raise a commotion when they are asked to get out?
I don’t know how many of you watch Cesar Millan on National Geographic. He is known as the dog whisperer. Not only does he train dogs but most times he is training people.
One of the things Cesar talks about is about claiming your space. He is always talking about creating positive energy and then showing it in the way we walk and in how we carry ourselves.
That’s what Jesus was doing when he spoke to the unclean spirit in the man. He was claiming the space in the temple. That’s what he is saying to us today when he orders our unclean spirits to shut up and get out. He is claiming our space as his. Exorcising our unclean spirits is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, it is our responsibility to work together to create a space here where we worship where the madness can come face to face with Jesus. That means that we also have to come face to face with our own madness.
The good news is what Jesus taught us last week in verse 15, “Times up! God’s kingdom is here!” All of us need to remember that and spread the word. This space has been claimed by Jesus and he wants us to tell everyone. This space is for everyone who is possessed by the madness of this world.
What does Jesus want with us? He wants us to be free from our unclean spirits. He wants us to share the good news with everyone. He wants us to know that we are safe in his arms because he has claimed that space.
Give everyone a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask: What is bothering you most? Is their something specific in your life or is there someone you love who needs the healing touch of Jesus? What ever it is, write it down on the piece of paper and lay it at the foot of the cross to signify that you want Jesus to have the authority from now on in that situation.
Thanks be to God for his saving grace. Amen.

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