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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Seizing Jesus (Mark 14:49a)

    Very rarely, actually, I don’t think I’ve ever, preached a sermon on one verse. I’m very cautious to take into consideration the whole context of a passage so I’m not misinterpreting Scripture, but this one verse, actually it’s half a verse, the Lord keeps bringing to the forefront of my mind over and over again the last three weeks. Indeed, it’s tied to an insight that He gave me two months ago that He just keeps bringing up, and I keep telling Him, “Okay, Lord, I know, I got it!” But then He told me to preach it.
    We have a dog, our family. She’s a nine-month old Great Dane, still in very many ways, a puppy. She loves to get up off her bed next to the couch and go and sneakily grab the kids’ stuffed animals that they leave lying around the house. She loves stuffed animals. She loves to cuddle with them and chew on them and eventually rip them open and pull all the stuffing out of them and mangle them until you no longer recognize what that stuffed animal was. When given the choice between a stuffed animal and any other toy she has, she will always go for the stuffed animal first! And if you ever try to take a stuffed animal away from her, once she has it in her mouth, takes the strength of Samson to get it out of her grip. She WILL NOT let that stuffed animal go!
    I’m going to be in Mark 14 today, the first part of verse 49. You can find it in your bulletins as well as your Bible or on the screen, “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me;”
    I’ll be the first to admit that it seems a strange choice for the celebration and jubilation surrounding Palm Sunday. I don’t want to ignore the context of the passage either which is still important even though our focus is only on half of a verse. This verse is in the midst of Jesus’ arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane. He had prayed fervently while the Disciples slept, and then Judas came with the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, verse 43 tells us.
    They came to arrest Jesus, and He told them the words from the verse I just read, getting them to try to examine why they were arresting Him then, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a garden, without charges. Why not arrest Him in broad daylight in front of witnesses? He knew it had to happen that way to fulfill Scripture, but He wanted them to understand that what they were doing was wrong and it went against their own laws and traditions.
    They arrested Him anyway, and that arrest would lead to His crucifixion.
    That’s the context of the passage. But, the Spirit keeps speaking this verse to me, this half of a verse, and using other passages in my quiet times and in my conversations with other Christ-centered believers, to confirm what He has been saying in this half of a verse. In fact, this sermon started originally as talking about who Jesus is revealed to be through the story of what we call Holy Week, the time between Palm Sunday and Easter or Resurrection Sunday. But again, He brought me back to this, “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me;”
    What does it mean that Jesus was with them. Who are they? Those seem like easy questions, but let’s really examine it and pull it apart. Jesus was with them, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. They were the ones that had come to arrest Him, and Jesus called them out on not arresting Him in the daytime in front of others. He wanted them to examine their motives, and question their actions.
    But, there’s another level here. Jesus was also with His disciples every day as He was teaching in the temple. It wasn’t just the priests and scribes and elders, it was the Disciples too. In fact, the Disciples were rarely out of His presence for three years! They ate together, and walked together, and ministered together, and cried together. They saw Him turn water to wine, they saw Him multiply loaves and fish, they saw Him heal the sick and make the blind see and make the lame walk, they saw Him raise people from the dead—not just once, three of them even saw Him transfigured and shining in all His radiant glory giving them just a glimpse of His heavenly form. They had been with Him nearly every minute of every day. He was always with them.
    As I read this verse, “Every day I was with you,” He reminded me that He is still always with us. Isaiah 41:10, one of my very favorite verses, “Do not fear, for I am with you;” Joshua 1:9, “Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.”
    And so we don’t just think that this was an Old Testament concept, but rather understand that this is a truth that holds true for all seekers of God of all time, Matthew 28:20, Jesus told His disciples, “teach them to observe all that I commanded you; and I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5, “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”
    And here’s where the connection with our half of a verse today grows even stronger. Jesus said, “Every day I was with you in the temple…” 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” And John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth,”
    If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, the very Spirit of God lives in you, and is with you forever, because you are His temple. So quite literally, Jesus is reminding us with His own words this morning, “Every day I am with you in the temple…” Every day He is with you in His temple, you.
    “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching,”
    I was thinking about that word, teaching, and looking through the rest of Scripture at passages where Jesus had crowds gathered around Him and He was teaching them the Scriptures and truth about the Kingdom of God, and there’s one thing that kept coming up when He was teaching, was that the people He was teaching were amazed! They were astonished at what He was teaching. One time, Jesus was teaching and they said, “Who is this, who teaches with such authority as though speaking directly from God?” Even after He was crucified, Luke gives us the account of two men who were walking and pondering about this man who had been crucified and about how when He taught the Scriptures to them, their hearts burned within them. When He teaches, people are amazed.
    Even now, when He speaks something through His Word that pierces our hearts, makes our hearts burn with holy fire, we are amazed! We sometimes think, “Oh wow, I’d never thought about this verse like that.” Or, “Oh, I didn’t realize that before.” “I never knew that before.” And sometimes it really sinks in, like it did for the two men whose hearts burned within them.
    And sometimes we are like the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, we hear the teaching of Jesus, we know the teaching of Jesus…and that’s it. That’s as far as it goes.
    “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me;”
    I was going to look at the qualities of Jesus that we learn about through Holy Week today, that we learn that He is our SAVIOR, your first blank in your bulletin, that He is our defender, that He is our burden-bearer, that He is our RESURRECTION, your next blank, that He is our King, that He is our LORD, your last blank in your bulletins, that He is our judge, that He is our intercessor, that He is our healer.
    All those things are true about who Jesus is. All of those qualities, and so many more, are so good, and He is so worthy of all the praise and honor and glory that we can ever give Him because of all those qualities.
    That’s all great. All these things He does for us…all these qualities that He possesses are great, but at the end of the day, He wants us to want Him just because He is.
    Is what, Pastor Alanna?
    What was the Name He gave to Moses?
    I Am.
    In fact, in Mark 14:61-63, when the High Priest questioned Jesus after He had been arrested, the High Priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus’ response was, “I Am.” And the High Priest took that as blasphemy because of the Name God gave to Moses; the High Priest understood that Jesus wasn’t just saying He is the Christ, He was saying He is one with God.
    For everything that He is, and everything that He does, this is the Name He gave because He wanted us to understand that what is important is seeking Him, not for what He can do or any of His characteristics, but just to seek Him.
    “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me;”
    He wants us to seize Him. I like this definition of seize: to “take (an opportunity or initiative) eagerly and decisively.” He wants us to take a hold of Him eagerly and decisively. He wants us to take a hold of Him like we’ve found something so valuable that there’s no way we could ever let Him go. Like my Great Dane puppy and her stuffed animals, when she gets her teeth sunk into a stuffed animal, she’ll never let go. He wants us to seize Him like that, like He’s all we could ever possibly want and need and we are never going to let go.
    He doesn’t want us to come to the end of our days and find that every day He was with us, teaching us, and we didn’t truly seize Him.

This week, as you spend time with the Lord, as you go through your week, as you come to church, as you pray, I want you to ask yourself one question: Do you want Jesus?
    Do you want Jesus, just because you love Him? Without all that He’s done or will do, do you just want Him because He is? Is He enough when you come to church, without the music and the lights and the fellowship and the coffee and all the things being just the way you think they should? Do you want Jesus?

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