Sermon - 6/11/18
2018.06.11 23:26:51

PROPER 5/B (2018): Gen. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 4:13—5:1; Mk. 3:20-35  


Loaf,              And [Jesus] appointed twelve to be with him… [Including] Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  And he came to the house; and a crowd came together again, so that they were not able eat the loaf.  And when those around him heard this, they went out to seize him, for they said, “He has lost his senses.”  And the scribes coming down from Jerusalem said that he was possessed by Beelzebub… (vv. 13a, 19-22a). 


You may recall, whenever there is a NT reference to Judas Iscariot it is likely a marker directing us to the church’s Holy Supper. That is the case in today’s Gospel Reading.  By “the loaf” Jesus intended to share with both Jews and Gentiles in the house at Capernaum we ponder the Sacrament of the Altar in which we participate this morning.


Jesus went up a mountain near the Sea of Galilee; there he appointed twelve Jewish men, including Judas Iscariot, into the apostolic Office. Jesus and the twelve returned to the house in Capernaum where a throng of Jews and Gentiles gathered to hear his teaching and share the house bread. 


Now when those who had been watching Jesus’ every move realized that he once again intended to meal fellowship with sinners, tax collectors, and Gentiles (Mk. 2:15, 16) they planned to arrest him and put a stop to his “blasphemous” nonsense.


Parenthetically, the translation in your bulletin places the charge, “He has lost his senses”; or “He is out of his mind” on the lips of Jesus’ mother and brothers as though they were in agreement with the scribes from Jerusalem. The Greek says no such thing.  If St. Mark wished to convey such an unholy association there is in Greek a perfectly good word for “family” (“‘n oikia, as”), rather than speculating about a rare euphemism about what the Greek actually says, “those around him” not “family”.  Such is the role of higher criticism in translation, willing to sacrifice meaning for an overarching methodology.


Jesus’ nuclear family only comes into view following his counter-charge against the Jerusalem scribes that they are guilty of blaspheming the HS. Jesus does not condemn his family as associates of the scribes.  The appearance of Jesus’ mother and brothers outside “the house” serves merely as foil that directs us to Jesus’ new family inside “the house”. 


In this season of “Time of The Church”, the family of God is the baptized into Jesus’ death on the cross; gathered in faith around word and Sacrament, one loaf for life in the resurrection. Thus, today we ponder our Eucharist; that our baptismal participation into Jesus’ death, his body and blood separated on the cross, is source of eternal Life.


Separation is death. Separation from God is spiritual death; separation of body from animating soul connotes eventual physical death; separation of woman from man leaves both bereft, half alive progressing toward death; separation from the church, the body of Christ with true brothers and sisters is spiritual death; for outside the church there is no life.


In extreme expression of separation an OT closed communion for the sake of faith’s integrity separated Jews from the uncircumcised or Gentiles. But in time God would employ death’s evil for life’s love.  On the cross Jesus’ sin-bearing flesh was separated from the OT church in order to establish the human sacrificial substance for forgiveness in the NT church’s communal Loaf and Cup.  This NT in Jesus’ flesh and blood was distributed to the Apostles, on the night Judas Iscariot betrayed him, creating God’s reunited eternal family of man in Christ. 


Today the descriptive term of man’s separation from brother and sister and from God, is “identity politics”, as old as our first parent’s sin. By a newly acquired “knowledge of good and evil” Adam blamed both God and the woman for his fallen circumstance; God, because he now knew the woman a defective gift; and the woman, because her service brought about his death. 


The woman rightly blamed the serpent’s lies; but also she implicitly pointed to her husband’s failure of pastoral protection. Ever since, Eve and her female progeny have “desired” the office, given in nature, to the man alone (Gen. 3:16b), exacerbating the unnatural divide of union.  


Our inherited knowledge of “good and evil” imposes in the human heart every imaginable cluster of identity politics. Those, not like us are consigned to a bin we label “for deplorables”.  In this way what God calls evil we judge, “separations of advantage” in our worldly lives, that is, until we die to be confirmed in eternal separation that rejects grace through Jesus crucified, our Author of new life. 


But again what man and Satan intend for evil, God employs for good. In Eden, God put the Tree of Life before Adam and Eve; instead they jointly and severally chose death; and so, Life was withdrawn until Jesus, the Author of life was baptized with the HS unto man’s death on the cross.


The substance and content of our Loaf and Cup is Jesus’ death; his body, blood, and Spirit separated and handed-over to the Father, then delivered to the church in the unitive event of Holy Thursday’s meal, Good Friday’s Passion, and Easter’s resurrection for our eternal Sabbath in Christ.  


All this says, that on this Lord’s Day what I distribute to you is what Jesus gave his apostles in the Upper Room; a participation in the fruit of his death on the cross as a partaking from the Tree of Life restoring to God.


To be clear, we have restoration to Life, as Jesus’ death in Baptism is now our death to self. When Jesus invited the deplorable Gentiles to share the house loaf with the apostolic leadership many in and out of the church resisted the new family orientation. 


The scandal of a shared meal with sinners and Gentiles would not be overcome until Baptism’s gift of the HS for faith unto repentance by our new creation’s genesis.


St. Paul points out, what is visible to the eyes of our flesh is merely the things of the old creation wasting away; but what we see by faith by the promises of God is the advance of our inner selves discerning the substance of our shared Loaf and Cup with brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Though our old flesh is being separated, we have a building from God, a family-house not made with hands, in the flesh of Christ.  Amen. 





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