Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Given and Sent - July 8, 2012 - Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 09) - Text: Mark 6:1-13
Much like our text from last week as the Lectionary committee deemed it appropriate to combine two readings, so this week we have a similar situation in which the Lectionary committee again deemed it useful and fitting to combine two readings into one. So, instead of simply reading of the people of Jesus’ hometown taking offense or reading of Jesus sending out His twelve apostles with authority, so we have both readings for this morning. And again, much like last week as we saw the wisdom of the Lectionary committee, so I believe there is wisdom in the combination of these two readings this morning as well and as we will see. This morning we will come to see Jesus being rejected and yet not giving up and we will see how He gives His apostles His authority to bear witness of Him and in the same way even today, we will know that Jesus gives us His authority to bear witness of Him as well, not as apostles, but as priests in the priesthood of all believers, living lives of faith, as living sacrifices for the Lord.
Our text opens with a scene from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Jesus had been away for a while and when He came back into town, what was thought to be His hometown, remember He was born in Bethlehem, they asked Him to preach on the Sabbath. And preach He did. Jesus did such a good job preaching that the people were amazed at Him. But actually, I do not think it was a good amazement. You see, they listened real close as Jesus preached. And He did a great job. They listened, and they even acknowledged that He was a wise man, but they took offense at Him. And please notice, it was not that He was trying to be offensive, but that they took offense at Him. They did not like acknowledging His wisdom because they grew up with Him and thought He was no different, no better than they were. Of course, Jesus was not trying to present Himself as being better; He was simply proclaiming to them the Word of God. We know He really was better than they were, because He is God. I do not know; maybe they were jealous of Him. You know, “small town boy does good” and all. Maybe they were thinking, “That could be me.” “I could have left town and become a famous person, but I stayed here to help out with the family business.”
Their attitude reflects that of many people today, us included, as we take offense at one of our peers who might speak to us concerning their faith, or ours. We are kind of touchy, are we not? Although God warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, I think sometimes that is exactly what we do. We would all like to think, “What an important person I am,” but unfortunately we do that to the extreme, and we often end up hurting other people. I guess sometimes we are all “legends in our own minds.”
In Jesus’ day, the people were amazed at Him. But just the same, Jesus was amazed at the people. Well, He had shown Himself to be the Messiah. Through His preaching and teaching, through His healing and feeding the multitudes, through the signs, wonders and miracles He performed, He showed that He was the Messiah, yet the people would not and could not believe. They could not believe because of their confusion. Many were confused because they knew Him as a child, at least in their own minds they thought they knew Him. They had an image of who He was and what He was like as a child. “This is the carpenter, the son of the carpenter.” “This is Mary’s son.” “His brothers and sister still live here with us.” Of course, we know He is God, and we know that He was perfect, even as a child.
Too many people were confused because of their misunderstanding of who the Messiah would be and what He would do. Many people of Jesus’ day were searching for an earthly Savior, someone who would free them from their bondage to the Romans. Someone who would bring them back to the glory days of King David and King Solomon. Someone who would make them rulers in the land. Likewise there are many people today who are confused about Jesus. They are confused because Jesus does not meet with their expectations of who Jesus should be and what He should do. The problem is that their expectations of Jesus do not match what the Bible tells us about Him. Too many people today expect Jesus to be a problem solver, a star maker, a money giver, a power broker, a bread king. Too many people today are expecting Jesus to be the Savior they envision Him to be, and too often that is a vision of an earthly Messiah, Savior and King.
Jesus had a hard time sharing the message of the Gospel in His hometown and to His own family, but the same things can be said about people in our world today. There are many of us who have a difficult time sharing our faith with our own families. For some of us our difficulty comes because of the previous knowledge of what we were like as a child. Yes, I confess, unlike Jesus, I was not a perfect child, but I do not think that should discount my faith nor my being able to share my faith with others. And there are probably some that cannot and will not accept our confession of faith because of their jealousy of our salvation. The devil works in many and in mysterious ways.
I am convinced that Jesus remains amazed at us today. People today continue to reject Him because He is not the Messiah they perceive Him to be. People today are looking for a Messiah who will make them famous, a star, who will bring them prestige. Some people are looking for a Messiah who will bring them riches. If only their god would help them to win the lottery or make it rich quick without any work on their own behalf. Some people are looking for a Messiah who will keep anything bad from happening to them. Surely their god is a god who triumphs over evil, otherwise, what good is he. Some people are looking for a god which they have designed. Their god is a god of mixed religions. Take what you want from each religion and make up your own god. Too many people have created their own god in their own image. Unfortunately not too many people are looking for God on His terms, as He reveals Himself to us.
Yet that is what Jesus continues to do. He continues to reveal Himself to us as He really is. He shows Himself to us through His Word and Sacraments. He shows that He is the genuine article. As we make use of His means of grace, reading His Word, the Bible, He shows Himself in His living His life for ours. He is the one who gave up the glory that was His in heaven, as God. He took on human flesh and blood, being born of a woman, being born in a stable and placed in a manger. He lived a life of relative obscurity, at least until He was thirty. He lived perfectly, obeying all of God’s laws, perfectly. He fulfilled all God’s promises concerning the coming Messiah, perfectly. And then, freely, He took all our sins upon Himself and suffered the eternal spiritual death penalty, the wages, the price for our sin. He suffered hell for us in our place. He showed Himself in giving His life for ours. He died so that we will not have to die. He died so that we might have life, eternal life, heaven. On the cross Jesus earned our forgiveness.
Thus, we are compelled to believe because He compels us. The key to our text is verse five. In verse five we are reminded that there were a few who Jesus could touch and heal. We are a part of those few who believed. We believe because He gives us faith, He brings us to faith. He brings us to faith through His Word. As we read His Word; the Holy Spirit works through that Word to work faith in our hearts, to give us forgiveness of sins, to bring us from death, and to give us life, eternal life. He brings us to faith through Holy Baptism. At our Baptism water is put on us with God’s name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God puts His name on us. He puts faith in our hearts. He washes us clean with forgiveness. He makes us His children.
And we are compelled to respond, because He moves us to do so. We just cannot help it. We are among those who have believed and whom He has touched. Because of what He has done for us we cannot help but to respond with works of service. Not that we always do works of service or do them perfectly, but we cannot help but to want to be an active part of God’s family. We want to come to the Lord’s house to divine service to be given the gifts He has to give, to hear what He has to say to us through His Word, to be reminded of our Baptism, to have His Word of forgiveness spoken to us through Holy Absolution, to eat His body and drink His blood at His Holy Supper, and to respond in worship of Him, to sing praises to Him. This is something which happens because God makes it happen. God gives, we are given to and He moves in us a response of faith.
Thus, we have the second half of our text, that Jesus sends out His twelve apostles with authority. So, indeed, we are sent out, with authority. As we leave our parking lot we see the sign, “Entering the Mission Field.” So, we come here to this house of worship for our divine service. We are reminded that Jesus earned our forgiveness on Calvary. And we are reminded that it is here in divine service, through the means of grace, though Holy Baptism, through confession and absolution, through our hearing God’s Word, and through His Holy Supper that the Lord distributes and gives out what He earned, that is we come here to be given the gifts the Lord has to give, the gifts He earned, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. We come here to be strengthened and kept in faith. We come here to be given His authority so that we might go out into the world made ready to give an answer, a defense of our faith.
We are moved to live and speak the good news to others. You know how it is when you get something new; you just cannot hide it. You have to show it off and tell everyone about it. When you get a car, you do not park it in your garage. No, you drive it around, hoping, waiting to see someone, anyone, so they can see you in your new car. When you hear some good news, some exciting news, maybe you were given a raise or a new position at work, maybe you and your spouse are expecting a child, or a grandchild, whatever the good news you cannot keep it to yourself. Such is our faith as Christians. We do not hide our faith in the garage. No we drive it around, we look for people to show it off, we cannot wait to show and tell others of the hope that is in us.
In our text for this morning we are once again given the council of God, that is we are given the gifts our Lord gives; faith, strengthening of faith, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, the gifts He earned for us on Calvary. We are given His authority as well as we are compelled to live lives of faith always being ready to give an answer for our hope and faith in Jesus. And truly we moved to respond by saying, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.