Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 12B

Track 1: Lust of the Flesh

2 Samuel 11:1-15
Psalm 14
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21

David was on top of the world. He had consolidated the nation of Israel and moved the capital to Jerusalem, along with the Ark of the Covenant. He had subdued all of his enemies. He was a war hero, psalmist, and prophet. Best of all, he had a close relationship with God that made all of this possible. What could go wrong? A great deal! From Second Samuel we read:

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”   (2 Samuel 11:2-5)

David was in trouble. To cover his own tracks, he tried to get Uriah the Hittite to sleep with his wife. Uriah, the loyal, would not do it while there was a battle going on. For David. drastic measures were needed:

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”   (2 Samuel 11:14-15)

How did this happen? David was close to God but David was now an adulterer and a murderer. Was he any more sinner than we are? The psalmist wrote:

The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all,
to see if there is any who is wise,
if there is one who seeks after God.

Every one has proved faithless;
all alike have turned bad;
there is none who does good; no, not one.   (Psalm 14:2-3)

Each one of us has very powerful urges to disobey the commandments of God. Perhaps one of the most powerful is the lust of the flesh. The flesh wants to satisfy itself at any cost. It is totally selfish. It does not care about God’s law. It wants nothing to stand in its way, and it is very persistent.

The Apostle Paul wrote about his inner struggle:

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.   (Romans 7:14-20)

The truth of the matter is that we cannot overcome the desires of the flesh on our own. Paul wrote:

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord   (Romans 7:24-25)

David repented from his sin. He did so from the heart and God forgave him. Nonetheless, David faced grave consequences because of his sin. Would it not be better to avoid the sin if at all possible and, thus, avoid the consequences? Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.   (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Can we be filled with the fullness of God? Not when we are filled with the fullness of this world. It is our choice. If we seek the fullness of God and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, then we are so much better prepared for the temptations of the world, including the flesh. In fact, do we not discover that our love relationship with Christ is far more exciting and wonderful than anything in this world?

Paul concludes bis thought by praising the Holy Spirit for what he is accomplishing in our lives:

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.   (Ephesians 3:20-21)

How then do we live, by the flesh or by the Spirit.

 

 

Track 2: Tell out the Glory of God

2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-19
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-g21

We find in the Gospel of John an emphasis on signs and wonders. John’s Gospel speaks of events in the earthly life of Jesus that are not found in the synoptic Gospels. At the beginning of the second chapter of John’s Gospel we read about the miracle that Jesus performed at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. We remember that, when there was a shortage if wine, Jesus miraculously transformed water into wine. John speaks about the significance of this miracle. He writes:

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him..   (John 2:11)

It was not only the water was transformed, but by this miracle the disciples of Jesus were radically transformed in their faith.

In today’s Gospel reading from John we see more signs and wonders. Jesus feed five though and people with just five barley loaves and two fish. Following this we have the incident where his disciples were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on the sea:

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”   (John 6:15-20)

John concluded his Gospel be speaking about the importance of these signs and wonders. John writes:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.   (John 21:24-25)

How important is his message about signs and wonders? The signs and wonders speak about the power and glory of God. The psalmist wrote:

All your works praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power;

That the peoples may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.   (Psalm 145:10-12)

We have a story to tell and perhaps we do not do a very good job of it. Our God is a miraculous God. Do we tell the people about his wondrous works? Some churches today are convinced that the “age of miracles” (so to speak) is over. Why would anyone say that? Do we not observe? Do we not see?

Of course, there are people who do not want to see. Signs and wonders are a threat to the status quo. They are outside the norm. But what the world says and teaches is not the norm that God has for us. God wants to pour out his glory upon the earth. We need to receive it.

We need to share it with others, knowing that the glory is not ours but God’s. A desperate and dying world is starving for the presence of God. Will we speak out? Do we have testimonies to share? Or are we stuck in our own dead little world? For Christian believers this should not be. We first want to know and then we want others to know “God’s power and the glorious splendor of his kingdom.”

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B

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