Reading Ramblings – July 6, 2014

Date:  2014 Narrative Preaching Series #3, July 6, 2014

Texts: Genesis 7, 8:13-22; Psalm 1; Mark 6:45-52

 

Context: Sin pervades creation courtesy of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  Each generation can’t imagine that mankind could become worse, more depraved, less God-fearing.  Nearly every generation is proved wrong as sin proliferates.  Perhaps if we could start with the best of the best, though, we could stem the tide of sin?  The promise of eugenics to improve humanity by controlling who lives to procreate is not a new temptation.  God shows us that this is not the solution to the problem of sin.  The problem of sin can only be solved by God stepping into creation, not by creation once again attempting to play God.

 

Genesis 7, 8:13-22— In the few short chapters from Genesis 3 to Genesis 7, sin proliferates.  Humanity wanders far afield from God in so many ways.  Power and violence are now sources of pride and glory.  Marriage becomes twisted into new forms.  Still the promise looms out there, expectant in the hearts of those who still strive to follow God.  Noah’s very name may be an indication (Genesis 5:28-29) his parents hoped he would be the one promised by God to Eve.  Surely, Noah grows into a man who loves God and seeks to obey him despite the sinful selfishness of the surrounding peoples.  Who better to reboot humanity?

The flood obliterates creation, destroying all peoples except for those preserved on the ark.  If there was to be a hope for mankind within mankind alone, Noah and his family evidently represent it.  But even as they exit the ark to begin the process of rebuilding, God knows better.  He knows that even within righteous Noah, sinfulness rages.  Our hope cannot simply be in good people.  Our hope has to lie elsewhere, beyond ourselves.

God also demonstrates his absolute sovereignty over all things.  Believers and unbelievers alike are all within his power, and what God ordains, no human can thwart.

Psalm 1— Obedience to God is a beautiful and wonderful thing, wherein we draw closer to our true identities and natures as we were created to be.  Obedience consists of consciously rejecting the way of the world, of selfishness and self-seeking, and seeking out the Word of God himself for guidance and instruction.  In a world that insists our self is our greatest good, the Word of God directs us to a proper context of self as a creation of God, designed to serve and love God and one another.  While these confused contexts might seem up in the air these days, evil will be shown to be what it is.  Justice will prevail.  The righteousness of God will ensure that this confusion does not last forever.

Mark 6:45-52—Water often represents chaos, the uncontrolled foundational element of all existence.  God demonstrates his authority over literal water in creation, not simply creating it but also ordering it and restraining it, ensuring that it obeys his commands.  In the Flood God demonstrates his powers by undoing some of these restraints and turning loose the waters over creation to flood and destroy and kill.  Yet when the intended purposes are accomplished, God ensures that the water recedes and returns to proper boundaries so that life might once again flourish.

Jesus’ disciples struggle to make sense of who He is.  Not long before this event, Jesus demonstrates his authority over the wind and the waters of the Sea of Galilee, commanding them to be still where moments earlier they had threatened to sink the fishing boat Jesus and his disciples traveled in. He has just finished miraculously feeding thousands of people before sending his disciples alone across the Sea of Galilee.  Who is this amazing and frightening person?  The disciples likely had much to discuss among themselves as they begin their trip.

Once again Jesus demonstrates his authority as the Son of God, displaying his power over creation.  Who can control the waves and wind?  Whose voice must they obey?  And who is capable of suspending the properties of creation, allowing things to happen that otherwise could not?  Who is it that can walk across water as though on dry land?  Surely only the creator and master of creation could do such things.  The sight of Jesus walking across the water is undoubtedly far more disturbing to his disciples than his absence.

Jesus is aware of their concerns, just as He was aware that their boat was not making much headway against the wind.  Once again wind is portrayed in opposition to Jesus’ disciples.  Could there be spiritual forces at play here, trying to keep Jesus and his followers from their destination?  We shouldn’t rule out this interpretation though Scripture is not explicit.  This is the second time that the disciples struggle with the natural elements when commanded by Jesus to sail.  This is the second time that Jesus’ authority over the elements is demonstrated.

But whether natural or supernatural in their source, the winds once again must obey the Word through which they were created.  Jesus calms his disciples, and then calms the winds.  His mastery over both humans and nature is absolute. While humanity is often at the mercy of nature, God is not.  Both humanity and creation are created to acknowledge the power and presence of the God who created them.  Humanity that embraced sin with Adam and Eve is in need of someone greater to rescue it.  Jesus has demonstrated his willingness and ability to resist temptation, demonstrating that He is the one promised to Eve (not Noah!).  He is the one who can not simply restore creation, but recreate it from the inside out.

 

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