Lectionary Sermon for July 18th

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 Even the Demons Believe

Toward the end of 1999, the last year of the previous century, a lot of people believed that when the clocks turned to 2000 all the computers would fail because the clock systems these computers used would not be able to make the change from 1999 to 2000. Many people believed this would cause a worldwide crisis. Many people who believed this crisis would happen took their money out of banks. Others bought survival gear and prepared for the worst. However, when the clocks changed from 1999 to 2000 there was no crisis. Just because we believe something does not make it true.

Beliefs has the possibility of producing hope or despair. Hope or despair can produce possibilities or problems. Possibility or problems can produce opportunities or obstacles.

In our passage today, the actions of Jesus produce hope for many and despair for a few. Jesus brough hope to many on the fringes of Jewish culture. Jesus brought worry and despair to the privileged and powerful.

While Jesus brought hope to the many by his actions. The problem was that many people focused on Jesus practices and missed the person.

Our story today begins with Jesus realizing his disciples need some rest. They are fired up. They have stories of the power of God being demonstrated. However, they were not taking time to eat or relax. Jesus intercedes. He tells the disciple they need to go and have some time off, a time to relax. Jesus is not afraid to take time off. Jesus did not feel it was wrong to intentionally get away. So off Jesus and the disciples go on a boat to a place they believe they will be alone.

The problem is that Jesus has gone viral. His name is becoming a household word. People are beginning to believe things about Jesus. Many think he can help them or someone they know. Their beliefs about Jesus are creating anticipation and expectation.

Human beings, due to our tendency for being easily deceived and mislead by the spiritual world, often created a view of entitlement for themselves. We couch this entitlement mindset in terms like fairness, goodness, needs, and promises. This entitlement process bleeds over into faulty theological thinking. Pop theology like, “I am good, so God owes me heaven. I have worked hard, so it is my turn to be blessed, or if I do this or that then God must respond.

Old Janice Joplin song which goes, “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz my friends all drive Porsches I must make amends.”

So, the story tells us that wherever Jesus goes, the crowds follow. They follow because of their desire. Jesus becomes a social magnet due to his actions. But does their interaction with Jesus bring a change in their lives? Do the actions of Jesus lead to a deeper understanding of what Jesus is all about?

“Christ you know I love you did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God so tell me that I’m saved

Christ you know I love you did you see I waved

I believe in you and God so tell me that I’m saved

Jesus I am with you touch me touch me Jesus

Jesus I am on your side kiss me kiss me Jesus,” so goes the song from Jesus Christ Superstar. But do the people really love Jesus or are they in love with what they believe Jesus can do?

Make no mistake, there was a lot of speculation, declaration, and confusion over who Jesus was. Later, in this very book of Mark, we find this discussion: On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.” (Mk. 8:27-28 CEB).

People believed all kinds of different things about Jesus. Again, just because you believe something does not make it true.

A lot of people claim Jesus for a lot of different reasons. Only one reason, one belief will get us into heaven. That reason, belief is not based on what Jesus did, it is because of who Jesus is.  

In as much as Jesus create excitement through his actions, most of those who were attracted to him had no idea that he was God incarnate. Every thing Jesus did he did to verify who he was. But the disciples and the crowds could not comprehend this. Look again at verse 52. The Scripture states that their hearts were hardened.

The word translated hardened carries the meaning actively, of judicial hardening as a consequence of refusing to listen to God thus have a closed mind. Passively, it carries the meaning of the self-hardening of unbelievers be unwilling to hear, become stubborn. They could see but did not see. They could hear but did not hear. There is an old saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts my mind is made up.” Why too many people make this mistake with Jesus.

Every action by Jesus had the purpose of point to the reality of who he was and why he became one of us. Listen to these words from the book of John; “Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Jn. 14:6-9 CEB)

Jesus came to bring us something more profound than his ability to feed 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. Jesus came to offer us something more profound than walking on water. Jesus came not for crowds but for individuals. Jesus came so individuals could have the opportunity to grasp their purpose for a personal relationship not with a priest, prophet, preacher but with God, God with us. God like us. God for us.

When Jesus sees us, he has compassion. God really does care about our situation. God really does want us to understand. This is more than just belief, it is trust, it is faith, it is to have hope built upon the actions of Christ which allows us to see the possibilities and offers us the opportunities to see how our lives can change.

This is true hope. This is the way to eternity with God.

We read about the practices of Jesus and believe. “It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.” What is important is that you know the person Jesus, the incarnate son of God, the Alpha and Omega, and have faith. This is the offer of God to us.