The miracles of Jesus are not just random events. God is not capricious, handing out bennies to some while stiffing others. The miracles have a purpose. This sermon sorts through a couple of different ways of thinking about those purposes. And then it focuses on how we often receive miracles, especially epiphany type. The disciples seeing Jesus walking on the water in quick succession go through the key ones. And Jesus is quick reply answers them. This is for us that we might understand and take courage. The New Creation is already ours.
The feeding of the 5000 is an easy jump to the Lord’s Supper, but in pondering it this week I wanted to focus on something a bit different. I’m still greatly worried about all of those online and the supper, so I wished to downplay that a bit. The latch for me was the specific situation in Jesus’ life. This is what happens immediately after the death of John the Baptist. Matthew is very clear about what Jesus wanted to do, and then what happened which is about 100% the opposite. It tells us something about the God we have, the inconvenience of compassion, and how God provides. Yes, part of how God provides is the specifics of the Lord’s Supper, but he provides so much more than that.
I’m convinced that more than a very OS daemons operate in the technology. It figures on a day that I hoped to address the online group a bit more explicitly the tech betrays us in a stupid way. But if I’m listening to my own sermon, out of meager loaves, the Lord provides.
Recording note: I had to rerecord the lessons, but the sermon is live. It is a skinny recording this week, sans the music, for that remix reason.
The point of a church is to make disciples. To make disciples is more complicated than it might sound. The hard truth is that Jesus was never about just getting someone to recite a creed (as important as it might be) or say a prayer (as meaningful as it can be). The disciple, as the reading from Romans would highlight, is someone that has “the word near you, in your mouth and in your heart”. The disciple is someone who has made the faith given to the apostles their own. To do that requires a work of the imagination. Sadly, it is that very imagination that I think our modern world fails at. If the ancient heresies were due to over-active imaginations, the modern are due to a lack. If they thought there was more in the text than actually there, we think there is much less. Ours is a spiritual poverty.
This sermon is an attempt to encourage the imagination of discipleship. The text is taken as a surprisingly deep, yet easy picture of the Christian life. There are two images, Peter getting out of the boat and Jesus and Peter getting in the boat, and then one image of narrative conclusion. All applied to our lives, to build up live in the boat.
After the last month of parables, today’s text was a shift to miracles. But the feeding miracles are almost a category of their own. The way I categorize miracles is typically: healings, nature or power, and restorations to life (I don’t use resurrection because that is a special term meaning the resurrection body which is no longer subject to death). All miracles reveal or invite us to ponder a specific part of who this Jesus is. Healings, like the man lowered in the house, invite us to ponder the Great Physician and how the one who can cleanse of of disease, more importantly cleanses us of sin. Those categorized miracles invite us to see how Christ has beat: the devil, the world and our sinful nature. The feeding miracles could by the nature miracle, but that is not the reaction of those who were there. Instead, the feeding miracles ask us to imagine how the Kingdom works in this world.
It works through compassion for those who might be our enemies. It works not through offering the world a worldly solution, but by offering Christ. It works not through direct power, but through means. The church or the disciple in this world is invited to follow Christ, and go and do likewise. This sermon explores that.
The setup to the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew is the core of Jesus’ revelation of God. Even when rejected and doomed, Jesus has compassion on his persecutors and heals their sick. The parabolic miracle demonstrates for us a couple of things. It clearly demonstrates the continued providence of God, but the bread is not just bread. The abundance of pieces are not just broken leftovers. God wants to give us more than just bread. He wants to give us himself. This sermon looks at how He does this.