“Everybody is looking for you.”Mark 1:37
In the first chapter of Mark we read of Jesus bursting into His public ministry – teaching with authority, healing the sick and casting out demons. We read of His almost immediate renown amongst the people of Galilee, generated by His miraculous deeds. In Capernaum, the first town that Jesus proclaims His message, we see the whole town crowding around the door of the place He was staying – eager to hear from this amazing holy man, or hoping desperately to be healed of their suffering and illnesses.
How can we not be struck to the heart when we meditate on this scene, and imagine Jesus looking compassionately on the mass of suffering people and mercifully healing them? What hope this should give us, when we realise that Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, and that our God is merciful and loves us so deeply. At some point in the night, Jesus sneaks out of the house in which He is staying and goes to a lonely place to commune with His Father. His disciples eventually find Him and tell Him that “everybody is looking for you”.
Indeed, everybody is looking for Jesus, whether they realise it or not. The Israelites were all yearning for the Messiah, who would free them from their seemingly endless oppression by foreign empires. They were yearning for the return of God to Jerusalem, which departed in Ezekiel’s day (Ezekiel 11:22-23), and for the conquering Messiah to end the farcical Herodian dynasty and become true king of both Israel and the world.
Alas, they were looking for the wrong type of Messiah, and many were unwilling to adapt their beliefs in the face of the miraculous events of Jesus ministry. However, we can guess at their true underlying yearnings – the desire to feel especially loved by God again, to be His people in power and wonder rather than just in memory, to live their national religious life in freedom from interference by foreign powers.
What about today? People are thirsting for a deeper meaning in their lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, in a nihilistic culture which is utterly defined by comfort, pleasure and self-aggrandisment. This can be seen in the rapid diffusion of new ideologies and causes, which promise much but deliver little. They are longing for justice, to be freed from oppression and the lack of hope. They are yearning for security and assurance in a world which seems to be standing on the precipace. They are looking for a way out, consciously or unconsciously, from the prison constructed by their own disordered and frequently excessive desires. They are searching for peace, in the world around them and especially in the deep recesses of their own hearts.
In short, they are looking for Jesus. They are looking for Him who didn’t hold on to His Divinity, but willingly emptied Himself out, taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), just to be with them and save them. They are looking for Him who felt deep compassion for His people, healing them of the illnesses of their bodies and hearts. They are looking for Him who promises justice for the poor and oppressed, and provides a life of meaning and adventure for those who are apathetic. They are looking for Him who gives His peace to us, and gives us the power to quieten and overcome our incessantly clamouring and waring desires.
Woe to us if we aren’t straining and searching, with every part of our being, to find ways of giving Jesus to the hurting and broken world around us. His life, working in us through the Spirit, is the only solution to the ills and pains that are so evident in the world today.