Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
Sermon starts at 22:55 in the recording
Gospel: John 6:1-21
1After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ 10Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’
15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.
Afterthoughts: A Conspiracy of Love
Knowing God and being known by God.
This is our quest
and the quest of all who pursue a life of faith in Jesus.
As I mentioned in the sermon on Sunday,
The more years of following we get under our belt,
the bigger perspective we get on God and this life of faith.
This is reflective of how relationships, generally, evolve.
Think about those we have spent the most time within our lives
and those who have navigated the deep seasons of faith with us.
It is these people who we have currency with because of this ongoing relationship.
The same is true with God.
When we are young in our faith we identify with Paul,
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.”1 Corinthians 13:11a
This means our fledging relationship with the Father is very basic.
We tend to ask for a lot and not understand that a life of faith is about a giving of oneself (like a child).
It is through on ongoing pursuit of God that we mature and come to a fuller understanding of the God of the universe, as reflected in another passage from Paul,
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;Philippians 3:10-12
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
The life of faith is a life of pursuit.
The pursuit of God.
In the epistle reading from last week,
Paul is trying to remind people of this fact,
by telling the story of his journey of faith.
Something else that is good to know
is God has been revealing Himself throughout history.
This work of God pursuing His creation is not a new thing.
The example shared during the sermon was the story of Adam and Eve in the garden after they had taken from the fruit that God had forbidden them to take.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”Genesis 3:8-9
God had created Adam and Eve for relationship.
They walked with God in the garden.
They brought conflict into the relationship.
God confronted that conflict by getting them to be honest.
They knew that they had violated the terms of their relationship.
And they were fearful of the repercussions
and of their own nakedness (shame).
But, again, God calls them back to relationship.
And even though the narrative of Genesis doesn’t focus on their continuing relationship, I have to think that God’s actions of initiation were comforting to Adam and Eve. That the pursuit of God for them gave them strength and security to re-engage the relationship.
To see another example of God revealing Himself during the ages,
We could look to the first reading from Sunday from 2 Kings.
In this example, we see a precursor to Jesus’ feeding of the 5000.
A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.”2 Kings 4:42-44
In this example, we get the end of a series of miracles performed by the prophet Elisha. There was a famine in the land and the prophets of God were battling with the prophets of Baal. So, a faithful person from a town named for Baal (Baal-shalishah), brings food for 100 during a time of scarcity. The servants are confused about how everyone will eat from this, but Elisha reminds him that God has determined that this should be, so they go forward in faith.
In this moment,
God reveals Himself to them.
And it is in the feeding narrative from the Gospel of John last week that we see God revealed through Jesus.
It is good for us to see this pattern of God’s presence in our lives.
It is good for us to surround ourselves with those who will remind us of this as well.
It is through this depth of relationship that lives are changed
and people gain entrance into the life of faith.
In all of this, by the way,
God is looking to use those who are willing to walk faithfully
to share this beautiful story of redemption and love.
This means you.
So, ask yourselves,
Do you want to be a part of this conspiracy of love?
To know God.
And, as Paul writes in the second reading from last week,
“…that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth…”
Come along for the journey and pray this prayer with me,
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”