Church Newsletter 2019-4-11

Saints,

I pray that the Lord’s grace and goodness fills your hearts and minds with gratitude, peace and hope as you fulfill your callings, love your wives, respect your husbands, obey your parents and raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

May the face of Jesus Christ shine on you all.

Filling up the edges

Mark 6:48–50 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] but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, [50] 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.”

Between three and six, in the morning, in their time of greatest need, and in a totally unexpected way, Jesus came to their rescue.

Job 9:8 who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea.

 Jesus was walking on top of the water, a miracle unprecedented in the history of redemption. Jesus isn’t coming to them as their teacher, as their friend or leader. He is enacting a theophany.

Theophanyis derived from two Greek words meaning “God” and “to show.” A theophany, then, is a manifestation of the deity.

Appearances of God mark significant events in the life of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Generally speaking, in the OT, God would manifest Himself as something comprehensible within creation as a means of communicating with man, such as the burning bush in Exodus 4 or the pillar of fire and smoke leading Israel through the middle chapters of Exodus or as the military commander in Joshua 5.

Jesus here turns the idea of a theophany on its head.  God, the transcendent revealed Himself to man in a comprehensible way. Jesus here reveals Himself not as comprehensible but as transcendent.

Jesus, a man bound by the “laws,” of creation reveals himself in a way that transcends created limits, communicating that he surpasses creation and the “laws,” of nature as the creator of the heavens and the earth.

The words “pass by them,” doesn’t mean he was going to walk passed them, ignoring them. It means He was going to display himself to them.

They are exhausted, tormented. They are hardened to His revelation. They are resisting Jesus and so Jesus goes further, pushed them further to break up the hardness of heart.

Two of the most famous theophanies in the OT occurred when Yahweh passed before two prophets, revealing His Glory to man.

Exodus 34:5–6 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 

Yahweh also passed before Elijah.

1 Kings 19:11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 

Jesus is showing himself to be the greater prophet, but He is passing before the disciples which put the disciples on the same footing as Moses and Elijah.

Who does that make Jesus to be, then? This theophany works, in a way, contra to the OT ones, because a transcendent God is not veiling himself in a way human minds and senses can comprehend. Jesus, a man, is pulling the veil back and revealing His transcendence.

Jesus shows them plainly. But they are hardened and resisting the revelation. They are all terrified, superstitious befuddlement.

Jesus self-consciously makes Himself a theophany. The Glory of God, bursting through the shroud of the humanity of Jesus, is made manifest to the disciples, on the sea, in the midst of a storm. In the midst of their distress they looked up and saw the glory of God passing by, the glory of the LORD shining out of the Son of God.

It echoes Job also.

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 8–11… “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

And like Job, they are silent, but not out of humility or awe.

Job 40:3–4 Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 

The disciples lay their hand on their mouths to stifle screams of abject terror, not as a sign of their humble ignorance before the almighty wisdom and Power of God.

The cry of the disciples is one of mere fear, and not even cries of prayer, let alone a cry of faith directed toward Jesus; but it was enough to ensure his instant response.

God’s willingness to answer is not limited by the poverty of our asking, and Jesus was often contented with an initial response of what we would consider a totally inadequate nature (9:24).

They knew that they were seeing something supernatural, but the word translated ghost could also be translated “demon.”

Remember the sea is a symbol of the dark, demonic forces in the world and they have seen quite a few hostile spiritual encounters up to this point.

How often do we confuse the providences and manifestation of God for phantoms, as dark and hostile forces?

We forget the overall lesson that Jesus sent them out on this sea of torment, while He oversaw their progress, while He was praying.

Then Jesus deepened their fear by revealing Himself in a startling and unexpected way.

Jesus’ approach to the boat and salvation drove their torment away and replaced it with fear.

We have to come to terms what this means as Christians who are so used to the false gospels of the American dream or the new agey, spiritual-feel-goodism that is often called biblical Christianity.

Jesus drives their torment away by filling them with fear. That isn’t the relief we expect. Jesus is showing them plainly who He is.

God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind on the waves. Jesus is speaking out of the storm on the waves.

But the disciples do not yet have the humility to say, with Job, to acknowledge Jesus’ might and wisdom.

In the darkness, when the disciples are deceived by their eyes, the being affirms his identity with the words “I am he; fear not.”

Jesus uses the admonition to “take heart” and to “have no fear” which introduce and conclude the “I am he,” this formula is an integral part of the divine self-revelation.

Joshua 1:9 – where God tells Joshua –  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  

The disciples are greeted on the stormy seas, out of the whirlwind by the great, “I am;” their Lord and Savior.

Isaiah 43:2–3When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

They see only a terrible specter on the water, who then reveals itself to be Yahweh.

Mark 6:51–52 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,  for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. 

Jesus saw their troubles and descended the mountain to encourage them.

Jesus did not stay away from their troubles, for He came to them, the incarnate God walked out on the water so that His glory would pass before their eyes.

They saw only a specter. A Phantom. They are not comforted by the Glory of the Lord, the glory of the Lord Terrifies them and then suddenly they realize its Jesus.

After deepening their distress, Jesus identifies Himself immediately, to calm them.

But wait, what?!?

That terror on the water said it was, “I am,” – the I am who spoke out of the whirlwind to Job and then to Elijah. The “I am,” who sent Moses, who led Israel out of Egypt by a mighty hand, who created the cosmos, He gets in the boat with them and its, Jesus?

A guy from Nazareth. Jesus calms the stormy seas. But will this calm their stormy hearts?

This would only have increased the awe of the disciples, although it could also have given them a clue as to the true nature of Jesus, if their hearts had not been hardened (verse 52).

It seems that the greater the signs Jesus shows them, the greater their misunderstanding.

But Mark is revealing, through OT allusions and echoes, the awesome reality of who Jesus really is.

But the obstinate and hardened disciples aren’t having it. Jesus is not the God they want. He is not the Messiah they were hoping for.

Jesus doesn’t need God to part the seas, because He can walk across them? The greater Moses, the greater Joshua – is God Himself? A guy from Nazareth? This is greatly perplexing!

The disciples go from tormented to terrified to astounded.

And the reason is found in v. 52. This puts them in the category of the wilderness generation.

Psalm 78:17–20 Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 

The disciples’ hardened hearts are compared immediately in Mark’s breathless way with crowds along the shores of Gennesaret.

Mark 6:53–56 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. 

Moses lead Israel on dry ground across the Red Sea. Immediately He is confronted by bitter waters in Marah. And God tells Israel;  

Exodus 15:26 I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” 

Jesus can be a tormenting, terrorizing and astounding God to the hardened. He torments pride. His Holiness terrorizes the unholy. He astounds the ignorant and puffed up.

In this world of fallen creatures, at war with sin, Satan and Death His methods are, at times, difficult to understand.

But what, ultimately, is His goal? To reveal Himself as the “I am,” – the Lord, the Healer.

Devotional

O blessed Lord,

you have commanded us to love one another. Just as we have received your undeserved blessings, may we love everyone in you and for you.

We ask your kindness for all, but especially for the friends whom your love has given to us. Love them, O fountain of love, and move them to love you with all their heart, that they may will, and speak, and do only those things which are pleasing to you.

Our prayer is cold, because our love is so feeble, but you are rich in mercy. Do not measure your goodness to them by the dullness of our devotion, but as your kindness surpasses all human affection, so let your hearing transcend our prayer. Do what is best for them, according to your will, that being ruled and protected by you always and everywhere, they may receive eternal life in the end; to you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and praise for ever and ever.

Amen

Church Calendar

NEXT WEEK: 

Joel, Confession

Steve, Prayer

GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE 

Friday, April 19, 7pm at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell. Watch for an email from Keith regarding volunteer opportunities.

CHURCH AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Wednesday, April 24, 5:30-6:15 at 1509 32ndSt., Everett.

JOINT EASTERN EUROPE PROJECT UPDATE 

Pastor Bogumil will be joining us from Poland and preaching on April 28. He will give us an update on the JEEP project over lunch on the 28th. More details to follow.

Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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