Sunday, July 18, 2021

Proper 12 Series B

Proper 12 
Genesis 9:8–17
Ephesians 3:14–21
Mark 6:45–56

Creation Is Redeemed and Sanctified by the Word of Christ Jesus

Having spared faithful Noah and his family from the flood, the Lord established His covenant with them, “and with every living creature,” that never again would there be “a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:9–11). He signed and sealed this everlasting covenant with His rainbow in the clouds, by which He sees and remembers His promise that “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:13–16). Although creation suffers under the curse of sin, the Lord preserves and orders creation for the benefit of His Church. In particular, all of creation is redeemed and sanctified by the incarnate Son of God. “Take heart,” and “do not be afraid,” for He is with you on the sea. He is not a ghost, but He has come in the flesh to save you. He has gotten “into the boat” with you, and the wind that was against you has ceased. (Mark 6:45–51). For He is the Word and promise of the Father, and His own flesh and blood are the covenant by which you are “strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16–17).

Mark 6:45-56

Almighty and most merciful God, the protector of all who trust in You, strengthen our faith and give us courage to believe that in Your love You will rescue us from all adversities

In the lessons for this coming Sunday God's promises are given and the Lord remembers those promises while man might not. The Lord promises Noah and his family that He will never again destroy the earth by a flood. In the Epistle lesson Paul thanks the Lord for the richness of grace which the Lord has established in Christ. In the Gospel Christ comes walking to His frightened disciples on the sea. They do not recognize Him because of fear and hardness of heart. The sermon hymn reminds us that it is the Lord Himself that orders our days. 

Faith calls for us to recognize the Lord working in our life especially when we cannot see His hand at work. God will not abandon us to the world we create for ourselves.  God does not withdraw to a contamination-free zone and leave us to get on with it on our own...but enters into the darkness, seriousness and consequences of human wrong-doing … in order to save us.

In Mark 1:16-20 when Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John without any apparent previous knowledge of Jesus, they left everything immediately and followed him. What had they recognized in Jesus? It is remarkable that none of the gospels provide a physical description of Jesus. We will never be able to pin him down by virtue of his appearance. Rather, we will always have to recognize Jesus for who He is and what He does. It is more than the miracles and healings Jesus performed or the things he taught. It may actually take the gift of faith to recognize the one who died on the cross as the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

Following the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus sends his disciples by boat to Bethsaida. Jesus, in the meantime, spends time in prayer. Jesus, aware that the boat is struggling in a high wind, walks out to the boat and is about to "pass them by." The disciples are terrified, but Jesus quiets them and the wind. The disciples response is amazement, rather than faith, for "they did not understand about the loaves."

The account of Jesus' walking on water follows immediately on from the feeding of the 5,000. The language is tied closely to the feeding and exhibits the heightened emotions of an eye witness. Like the feeding, this story is full of theological imagery. As in Psalm 107:23-32, where the Lord carries his people to their haven of rest, so Jesus miraculously reveals himself as the one who can take his people across the sea to their haven of rest. The story images Israel's crossing of the Reed Sea and the River Jordan. Yet, as with the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples do not understand the significance of the miracle and therefore do not come to faith.

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Mark 6:50

They thought they were seeing a ghost.  After all, who walks on water?  It must be a spirit, because certainly flesh and blood cannot walk upon the waves of a stormy sea, let alone upon the calm surface of a placid sea.

So Jesus identifies Himself to them.  The translation given by the ESV and indeed by most English translations falls short of what Jesus is saying.  The ESV translates Jesus saying, “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid.”  William Weinrich states:  “Again, it seems superficial to interpret Jesus’ words as a mere self-identification:  “It is I, Jesus,” given the significance of these words in the OT…”  [Jn, vol. 1, 654].  What words is Dr. Weinrich referencing?  Jesus, while walking upon the water, said to the Apostles (literal translation):  “Take heart; I AM.  Do not be afraid.”  Jesus is here identifying Himself as I AM: the God of the Old Testament.  Moses replied to God at the burning bush:  If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you [Ex 3:13,14].’  The Greek translation of I AM in these Old Testament verses is precisely the Greek used by Jesus in our text. The Apostles should take heart and not be afraid, for Jesus is I AM, the eternal God who brought Israel out of slavery.

Many Christians have observed such a reference in John 8:58, where Jesus spoke to the Jews:  Truly, Truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.  Most English translators get this right. Jesus is here clearly identifying Himself as the same I AM encountered by Moses. However, unbeknownst to many, the Greek New Testament reflects this I AM-identification of Jesus on numerous occasions.  See e.g. John 4:26; 8:24, 25; 13:19; 18:5, 6,8.  Though such “I AM” references are not as common outside of John’s Gospel, yet the parallel accounts of Jesus walking on the sea (our text; Matt 14:27; Jn 6:20) record Jesus identifying Himself as the I AM

This then answers the question, Who walks on the water? It is God who walks upon the stormy sea; it is God who became a man for our salvation.  This identification of God as the water-walker is made in the Old Testament:  Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unknown [Psalm 77:19].  Perhaps it is even clearer in Job 9:8:…who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea (LXX translation:  …walks on the sea as on firm ground). 

Jesus Walks on Water
(Matthew 14:22-33; John 6:16-25)

45 Καὶ  εὐθὺς  ἠνάγκασεν  τοὺς  μαθητὰς  αὐτοῦ  ἐμβῆναι  εἰς  τὸ  πλοῖον  καὶ  προάγειν  εἰς  τὸ  πέραν  πρὸς  Βηθσαϊδάν,  ἕως  αὐτὸς  ἀπολύει  τὸν  ὄχλον.  
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 

46 καὶ  ἀποταξάμενος  αὐτοῖς  ἀπῆλθεν  εἰς  τὸ  ὄρος  προσεύξασθαι.
     And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

47 καὶ  ὀψίας  γενομένης  ἦν  τὸ  πλοῖον  ἐν  μέσῳ  τῆς  θαλάσσης,  καὶ  αὐτὸς  μόνος  ἐπὶ  τῆς  γῆς
     And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land

48 καὶ  ἰδὼν  αὐτοὺς  βασανιζομένους  ἐν  τῷ  ἐλαύνειν,  ἦν  γὰρ  ὁ  ἄνεμος  ἐναντίος  αὐτοῖς,  περὶ  τετάρτην  φυλακὴν  τῆς  νυκτὸς  ἔρχεται  πρὸς  αὐτοὺς  περιπατῶν  ἐπὶ  τῆς  θαλάσσης•  καὶ  ἤθελεν  παρελθεῖν  αὐτούς
And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them  

49 οἱ  δὲ  ἰδόντες  αὐτὸν  ἐπὶ  τῆς  θαλάσσης  περιπατοῦντα  ἔδοξαν  ὅτι  φάντασμά  ἐστιν,  καὶ  ἀνέκραξαν• 
but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out  

50 πάντες  γὰρ  αὐτὸν  εἶδον*  καὶ  ἐταράχθησαν.  ὁ  δὲ  εὐθὺς  ἐλάλησεν  μετ’  αὐτῶν,  καὶ  λέγει  αὐτοῖς  Θαρσεῖτε,  ἐγώ  εἰμι,  μὴ  φοβεῖσθε
for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  

51 καὶ  ἀνέβη  πρὸς  αὐτοὺς  εἰς  τὸ  πλοῖον,  καὶ  ἐκόπασεν  ὁ  ἄνεμος•  καὶ  λίαν  ἐκ  περισσοῦ  ἐν  ἑαυτοῖς  ἐξίσταντο• 
And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded  

52 οὐ  γὰρ  συνῆκαν  ἐπὶ  τοῖς  ἄρτοις,  ἀλλ’  ἦν  αὐτῶν  ἡ  καρδία  πεπωρωμένη

     for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened

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