Text: Psalm 145 & Mark 6:45-56
Introit and Gospel for Proper 12B
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Our Canadian government is plagued with problems, isn’t it? Then again, can you think of a government on this earth that isn’t plagued with problems? Instead of just leaders, we get corrupt and self-serving leaders. They make multitudes of promises to us while on campaign, and only keep a fraction of them. No sooner do they get into office, then they begin to dismantle everything the previous administration did, good and bad. We are cursed with leaders who are more concerned about winning the next election and pushing their own agendas than caring for the people.
Despite the fact that few here have political science degrees, we are nonetheless able to recognize our needs as a society. But with lots of problems, and very few solutions, it is quite easy to become jaded and cynical at the entire political process. We have lost hope that human governments will be able to free themselves from their corruption and unreliability. We are all too aware the no government can rid the world of poverty, crime, injustice, sickness and death. Despite the fact that we know the very real limitations of human government, we still recognize our need for good government. We see the need we have for good rulers. We hear stories from Syria and Iraq of how government fell and chaos arose, and we truly get it. We need a stable society.
I. The Need for God’s Reign
But the question is: are we able to recognize our need for God? We see our need for a stable and good government; we can see the problems and needs in our government; but can we see our need for God? Behind our need for a just society and good leadership is our utter dependence on God. What we need is the tangible and real reign of God. Only God has the solution to our problems. That’s why the Christians confess that God is our king and continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” God’s kingdom is his reign.
And nowhere is the kingdom and reign of God more real and tangible than in Jesus of Nazareth. In our Gospel Lesson Jesus makes the disciples go by themselves in their boat, crossing the sea of Galilee. A fierce storm came upon them and threatened the disciples and their boat. Amid the bailing of water and strenuous rowing, as the fierce storm raged on, there was Jesus, walking towards them on the water, just out for a stroll. Terror filled the disciples. They think it’s a ghost. But, Jesus, the Great I AM, gets into the boat, and all instantly became calm. This is the authority which Jesus has over the natural world. Jesus’ authority over wind and wave, over bread and fish, is a sneak peek into his reign over the whole world. Jesus’ first words in Mark’s Gospel are, “The Kingdom of God has come near.” (Mk 1:15). Through Jesus we see the reign of God manifested over his creation. Jesus demonstrates to the startled disciples that he is the world’s rightful king, long exiled, now returning. Through Jesus, the reign of God invaded, and continues to invade, this rebellious world.
And the text says that the disciples just don’t get it. They don’t understand. They’re completely bewildered. Jesus is standing right in front of them, performing miracles, proving that he’s their God and King, and they stare at him like cows staring at a newly painted fence. We can recognize our human needs. They recognized their need to get out of that storm. But did they see their need for Jesus? Did they get that Jesus was the King of creation? Do we? If you saw your need for God, you would also see that others need him too! Our Psalm talks about God’s people, telling others about the magnificence of his kingdom; his reign. Do you tell others about the glorious splendor of the reign of Jesus?
That same power of the reign and kingdom of God is demonstrated through Jesus when he healed all the sick people! When Jesus and the disciples get out of the boat and start travelling in that region, the people recognize Jesus. They know who he is and what he can do for them. While the disciples are dim witted dolts, the sick people get it. Those who were afflicted begged Jesus and sought even to touch the fringes of his garments. They see their need and they see that the only person who has the ability to deal with their needs is Jesus. People brought to Jesus their friends and loved ones who were sick and oppressed. In the words of the Psalm, Jesus was near to all who called on him! He heard their cry and saved them. Jesus is the kind of king who acts on behalf of the sick and the oppressed. He acts on behalf of those who see that have no other recourse than to cry out to him!
II. The Need for a Righteous God
We need God’s reign, and we need the God who reigns to be a righteous King. David in our Psalm says that the Lord is righteous, that means his reign is just and fair. God’s reign is just and fair because he enforces his moral order, seeing to it that both the righteous and wicked receive their due recompense. God’s reign is just and fair because he provides for the physical needs of all his creation, including both the righteous and the wicked. He takes care of his creation, from plants and animals, to us humans.
We need God’s reign to set everything right. If you think that God will not do anything to correct all the wrong and chaos of this world, you’re wrong. It is true that our sin has bent and distorted this world, but God is righteous, and the crookedness will be set straight. God is a just king who is going to bring all wrong doers to justice for their crimes against him. If we’re speaking honestly, that would be us. If God were to cast us into the “Ninth Circle” of a Devil’s Hell for time and all eternity, he would not be treating us unfairly. In fact, the holy angels would applaud that justice had been served. We need God’s reign because in this rebellious world filled to the brim with injustice, justice has to be served.
The example of Jesus shows us that we need the kind of king who shows faithfulness toward his people. This is a faithfulness that moves him to intervene; to act on our behalf and to rescue his distressed people. God has heard our cries and pleas for mercy and saved us. In the words of our Psalm, God has saved us through mighty deeds. He has come near to us. God has entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ and made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. The righteousness of God’s reign is seen when he acted on behalf of humanity to save us through the death of his own Son.
God has promised us forgiveness, life, and salvation through his Son. And as David wrote, “The Lord is faithful in all his words.” We can trust what God has done for us in Christ because he keeps his word and lives up to his obligations. God’s righteousness means you can trust his promises because he is totally reliable. God is loyal to his own promise to give to you the very righteousness of God.
Our Psalm also says we need God to uphold us. We need God to raise us up when we fall and to preserve us from falling. That is why, the kingdom of God, his reign, is in you. That’s the point of the Epistle lesson. Through faith, Christ himself dwells in your heart, he has united himself to you. This faith is created and sustained by God’s powerful Word. Through this indwelling of Christ, the strength and power of the reign of God are given to you to enable you not only to have faith, but also to begin to lead a godly life here in time. As you hear God’s Word read and proclaimed to you, that is the reign and rule of God coming near. As you strive to lead a godly life and to turn from sin, that is not your power, but the power of the Kingdom of God at work in you.
Our God is king. We praise and bless him because he is a just and fair God. His righteousness means that justice will be brought upon sin, but it also means that he has intervened on our behalf to save us. He pardons our offenses and gives us the ability to turn from sin because he takes up residence in us. We need to recognize our need for God. His kingdom of grace and mercy founded by Jesus Christ the King of Kings is our only hope. His promises to us can be trusted because he is reliable. His reign is not for one or two terms, but it lasts forever and ever. Unlike every other ruler or king, God is in office forever! There is no transition team to move from one heavenly administration to another. We’ve heard of Queen Elizabeth I and now Elizabeth II. Not in the heavenly kingdom. There is no Yahweh I and Yahweh II, for God is first and last and there is no other. None preceded him, and none shall succeed him. His reign is a reign without end, and that’s a reign we need. To him be the glory! Amen.
And may the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.