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 29, 2012
Jesus Provides for Our Greatest Need - July 29, 2012 - Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12) - Text: Mark 6:45-56
This morning we continue following through the Gospel of Mark, picking up where we left off last week. And again this morning we continue to see and hear one of the trademarks of Mark’s Gospel, that is that something is always “immediately” happening. Mark’s Gospel does not move along slowly, but as you read and hear Mark’s words you have the distinct feeling that things are moving rather rapidly as everything seems to happen “immediately.” And so, this morning after Jesus fed the crowd, now “immediately” we are rushed off to our next narrative.
Before we rush, “Immediately” into today’s text, we want to take a moment to remind ourselves of our context. So, previously, as in last week, we were brought to the point of Jesus attempting to give His apostles some Sabbath day rest which was truly to no avail as the crowds saw Jesus and the apostles, recognized them and then ran ahead to the place where they were landing the boat. Jesus had compassion on the people and instead of getting their much needed rest, He cared for the people, teaching, healing and the like. Finally, at the end of the day Jesus feeds the five thousand, plus women and children perhaps over 15,000 people in all and then sends them home.
Notice that it was the crowd that came seeking Jesus. They came looking for Him, but let us not get carried away thinking they are looking for Him to be their Savior. They sought to make Him king or better said to make Him a bread king, in other words, they were wanting to make Jesus king so He would take care of them. They are truly no different than people in our world today, even many so called Christians. Because we are conceived and born in sin, our nature is not to seek for a Savior or Messiah, but our nature is to seek for a bread king, someone to take care of us. Today we hear false teachers and preachers encouraging us to believe that God wants us to be rich and prosperous, what we call a prosperity theology. We hear false preachers telling us that we can be the people God wants us to be because Jesus lived as an example to show us how to live in such a way, what we call a theology of glory. And we are told that if you are not rich and prosperous or living as God would have you live it is because you simply do not have enough faith. These are false theologies and will lead you either to believe you can save yourself or lead you to despair.
As our narrative continues, Jesus sent the crowd away and He sent His disciples away and He went up on the mountain to pray. Certainly this is a good example to us all of our own need to be in prayer and in communication with our Lord. While He was praying we are told that Jesus saw His disciples having difficulty on the sea because of the winds. Here again we see Jesus as true God being able from the mountain through the dark at about 3 am, to see several hundred yards or more perhaps even two or three miles out on the sea.
Now, interestingly enough we are told that Jesus walked on water and that He meant to pass by them. What does this mean that He meant to pass by them? After reading several not so good explanations, it would seem the best explanation for Jesus meaning to pass by them was that He was testing His disciples. Remember, His disciples were ordinary sinful human beings with their own backgrounds and perhaps superstitions. When they saw Jesus they were terrified and believed they were seeing a ghost. So much for their believing in Jesus as true God in human flesh who came to save the world. Jesus, as Mark says, immediately spoke to them reassuring them of His presence. He then got into the boat and the wind ceased and the sea became calm.
We are then told that the disciples were utterly astonished. They did not understand, at least not completely, who this Jesus is and what He came to do. Certainly, again, they are like many in our world today who do not understand who Jesus is and what He came to do. Too many in our world and even in the Christian church believe Jesus to be someone who provides for our physical and bodily needs. They do not understand their greatest need nor how Jesus came to fulfill their greatest need.
For many in our world, Jesus is just a good example. And yes, Jesus is a good example, but He is so much more. Jesus is a good example because He knows human need from experience, after all He is truly human. Jesus knows what it means to be tempted. He knows what it means to be hungry, to be tired, to be sleepy. Jesus knows what it means to lose a loved one through death, to be sorrowful and sad. Jesus knows what it means to be human.
Jesus also knows what it means to be God, because He is truly divine. He showed His divinity through His miracles. Through His feeding the multitudes, through His casting out demons, curing the sick, making the lame to walk, and raising people from the dead, Jesus shows He is truly God because only God can do the things He was doing.
As true God and as true man, Jesus lives a truly perfect example for us. Even as true God and true man, Jesus went up the mountain to pray. Jesus understood and shows us the importance of our relationship with God the Father, indeed our relationship with Himself. Our greatest needs in life are not our physical bodily needs. Certainly we need food and drink and daily bread; certainly we need clothing and shoes, a house and a home; but these are not our greatest needs and without excess, our Lord provides for all our needs, not in a manner of greatness or prosperity, but in providing for all that we need. Yet we have a greater need, one which we often over look or fail to see, or even admit.
Mark again shows us that the world of Jesus’ day is not much different that the world we live in today. In the world of Jesus day people recognized Jesus or at least people thought they recognized Jesus and many brought other people to Jesus. In our world today many people recognize Jesus, or at least we think we recognize Jesus and very often we work to bring others to Jesus. In the world of Jesus’ day, as He continues to do today, Jesus healed the sick, the only difference is that in our world today Jesus tends more to healing through the means of medicines and doctors. And as in His day Jesus did not always heal everyone, cast out all demons and raise all people from the dead, so it is today, not all people are healed nor does anyone resist physical death.
So, what do we take from our text for today? We are reaffirmed in our faith that Jesus is who He says He is, He is true God who took on human flesh. Jesus is the one who was promised in the beginning who would come and take care of the greatest need of all people.
Jesus showed Himself to be truly human and divine. Jesus had to be truly divine in order to be born in perfection. Remember, God’s demand of us is perfection, we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Jesus was also truly human and He had to be a human in order to be our substitute, that is in order to be able to trade His life, His perfect life for our imperfect life.
Jesus came, not simply as an example and not to be served, but to serve and give His life. If Jesus were merely an example, because we might think we can keep His example as is the case of those who think they can be the people God wants them to be, meaning be perfect, this would lead to works righteousness or better said, this would lead us to think we could save ourselves and would have no need for Jesus, thus leading to eternal spiritual death. Or if Jesus were merely an example and one that we know we could not emulate then we would be lead to despair thinking that since there is no way we can be like Jesus we might as well simply live life as we want. No, Jesus came to serve and to live His life for us and to give His life for ours.
And yes, Jesus does provide for all our needs and notice I said needs, not wants. Our wants are indeed quite great and certainly any thoughts of God’s desire for our prosperity would fall in the category of wants. For God to provide for all our needs means that He does provide us with clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, and all we need to support our body and life, and not necessarily in excess.
And finally, first and foremost, Jesus provides for our greatest need, even when we refuse to acknowledge our greatest need and even when we refuse and reject our greatest need. Our greatest need is forgiveness of sins. Jesus came to this earth, giving up the glory that was His in heaven as true God, in order to take on human flesh and blood. Jesus lived perfectly for us because we cannot. Jesus took our sins upon Himself, freely because of His great love for us. Jesus suffered the torments of hell, eternal spiritual death, for us on the cross. Jesus died and rose for us. On the cross of Calvary Jesus earned and paid the price for our sins, our greatest need. And yet, that forgiveness which He earned is not distributed on Calvary, but is distributed through His Word and Sacraments. Our greatest need is to make regular and diligent us of His means of grace. Our greatest need is forgiveness of sins which is distributed through His means of grace. Our greatest need is to remember our baptism, to remember that with water, God’s name was put on us, faith was given to us and we were given forgiveness of sins. Our greatest need is to confess our sins and hear our Lord’s words of forgiveness, your sins are forgiven. When we hear those words of forgiveness we know that is what we have, what His Word says, forgiveness of sins. Our greatest need is to read and hear God’s Word, on our own, through private and family devotions, in Bible Class and Sunday School and indeed in the Divine Service, because we know God’s Word is efficacious, that is it does what it says, it gives the gifts of which it speaks, faith, forgiveness and life. Our greatest need is to come to the Lord’s table to partake of His body and blood, in, with and under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins. As we come to the Lord’s Table, the gifts Jesus earned on Calvary are delivered to us. As we come to the Lord’s Table and partake of His Holy Food, His life becomes our life, His death becomes our death, and His resurrection becomes our resurrection.
God loves you so much. Jesus loves you so much and He has shown His love for you. God has so much He wants to give to you. Jesus earned forgiveness for you and His desire is that you desire His gifts. My prayer for you continues to be that through His means of grace, as you make regular and diligent us of His means of grace that you might be made assured of your forgiveness, be strengthened in your faith, and be ready to stand before the Lord’s throne, robed in His robes of righteousness and say, to God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.