August 9, 2014

The Word Is Near You (Proper 19)

We all need Jesus to be there for us, to reach out and catch us when we are afraid. We are sometimes like Peter in the boat. We get “beyond our depth” in the storms of life and need someone to rescue us. This parable explains how the spiritual world is all around us and how Jesus as “the Word” is always very near to us.

1. Most of the time we do not think about our need to be saved
Most of the time we feel safe in our comfortable little boat. We are rocked by the storms of life around us but it seems safer in the boat than outside. In practical terms many people believe if they just keep the Ten Commandments - or at least try, things will somehow work out ok.
Story of Joseph and his brothers (all good people of the Hebrew Law) reminds us this does not always work in real life. In real life we are blinded by our pride. We may think we can manage without being saved and without Jesus - at least for a while.
  • Problem is that we are human. Our human nature is weak. We fail and fall into sin. Joseph’s brothers let their jealousy drive them into anger and almost murder. This is the story of all of our families.
  • The Good News is that when we do fall into sinful or destructive behaviour, Jesus is always there to reach out to us and save us from sinking any farther. The Good news is that God has created a way to remove the guilt and shame of our sinful behaviours. All we have to do is repent and cry out “Lord save me”.
2. The Story is not about walking on water
We very easily get distracted into the question of whether Jesus could really walk on water. This is a sidetrack. The story is really about the Kingdom of God breaking into the physical world. It is about the supernatural world being revealed in the physical world. This is the point where we are challenged in our faith to go beyond good moral behaviour to belief in the supernatural spiritual world of the Bible.
This is the point where we can no longer see Jesus as a good man and great moral teacher. This is the point where Jesus is clearly revealed as God with us. The alternative is that Jesus was a fraud or mad.     
  • In spite of not understanding “how He did it”, we are challenged to believe something very radical about Jesus. We are challenged to believe in a different dimension, the supernatural, invisible spiritual worldview of the Bible where the rules are different.
  • We are humbled to the place of children who are trying to make sense of something that does not appear to make sense. It challenges and changes our whole “world view”.
  • We must all wrestle with the authenticity and truth of the Bible.
  • People who cannot accept and believe in the supernatural worldview of the Bible have developed a new Liberal Theology that denies the miracles, healings and sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Liberal Theology has deceived many people into thinking they are spiritually ahead or deeper because they are not superstitious
3. Serious Christian believers have a new supernatural perspective
This changes our understanding of Jesus teachings dramatically. We need to re-read the whole Bible in this new perspective to understanding the deep spiritual truths of the Bible.
Apparently strange saying about “life through death” etc. suddenly make more sense.
  • We begin to see the importance of holiness - living a holy, unpolluted life – so the Word – Holy Spirit can live in us.
  • Stories of casting out demons become real and relevant - not just “primitive pre-scientific explanations”;
  • If there really are evil spirits and these evil spirits feed on our spiritual garbage; then our sins become much more serious and destructive than we thought. If we are opening ourselves to spiritual attack and even spiritual oppression by our unloving behaviour, this is much more serious. There are real consequences that can affect our lives.
  • More important to know that Jesus is right there to save us when we are ready to repent and turn our lives around.
The Good News is that the Word is near us
We are not alone in our boat, being tossed around in the storms of live. The Apostle Paul is reminding us that we do not have to wait until we die to see Jesus. We do not have to go to a special place. Jesus as the Word is in our hearts because we know Him and love Him – and are listening to Him.
Know Him from reading the Bible, praying and worshiping Him
  • Know him from our personal experiences of healing by the Holy Spirit
  • Know Him from wrestling with the issues in our lives in our daily quiet times – have to spend time with Jesus every day
  • Know Him from words of knowledge
  • Know Him from experiences of love, joy and peace
  • Know Him as we discover the gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Good News is that God has prepared us for the storms of life by appearing in human history through the Old Testament Prophets and as Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This is why we must continually read our Bibles and understand these stories from a spiritual perspective. The Bible is not limited to physical reality. The Bible is about spiritual reality, the reality of God’s love reaching out to humans over the centuries to establish a holy relationship. This is what Jesus is doing with the Apostles. Each of us has an truly Epiphany moment when we finally ‘get it’ and become a serious believer.

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