Real Presence Real Salvation
July 27, 2018
Verse: Mark 6:50
Christ Lutheran Church
July 29, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Real Presence, Real Salvation
Take heart! Don’t be afraid! It is I. (Mark 6:50)
God be praised that the church is aglow today with the gospel of salvation. We find it in the Ordinaries of liturgy – those parts that remain the same week after week; and in the Propers – those parts that change from week to week.
In Genesis we hear the covenant that God made with Noah who is a type of Christ. Noah means comforter; Jesus is our Comforter in the face of sin, death and Satan. Noah was a preacher of Righteousness. Jesus is Righteousness incarnate. The Righteous Branch nailed to the tree of the cross for our sins. Noah built a boat that saved all who entered it from the judgment sin incurs. Jesus built a church that saves all who enter it through the Flood of holy baptism. It floats above the chaos of this world and keeps us safe from harm and danger; there is no more secure place to be.
Moreover Jesus is the Rainbow who showed his true colors on the cross. Red for the blood that saves us. Green for his never-ending love. Yellow because he is the Sun of Righteousness. Blue because he is heaven to earth come down. And whenever God sees Jesus, who intercedes for us at the Right Hand of the Father, he remembers our sins no more.
Nor does today’s epistle leave us wanting in any way! It is St. Paul’s prayer that all the baptized might have the strength to comprehend the: “breadth and length and height and depth” of Christ’s love for us; love “which surpasses all knowledge; so that we might all be filled with all the fullness of God.” There is nothing better than that.
But good news means nothing unless it is contrasted with bad. The bad news is our sins, the wretched condition they leave us in, and the judgment they threaten in the final assize. We were born of sinful parents, inherited their sin, and are culpable for it. That spells trouble.
And even if it were possible for us to go through our whole lives without perpetrating a single trespass – which it is not – every person has still contracted the disease of his parents. It’s why the world can never get any better. It’s why God after centuries of patience; and after sending out Noah to preach a very direct message of repentance for 100 years – Why he finally had no choice but to wash away the sins of the world in a flood of water that killed every living creature that did not seek the protection of the Ark.
But it was not a permanent solution. But the cross of Jesus, and baptism into it, is. And so today’s Psalm (136) with good reason repeats 26 times in 26 verses: “O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; and his mercy endures forever.”
But in case we still didn’t get the message the church puts today’s gospel into ears.
First, Jesus goes to a high mountain to pray. He was praying for his disciples. He was interceding for the men he put into harm’s way when he ordered them to cross the lake, to cross it when no sensible seaman should put out.
They were terrified. They were in the very middle of the lake. And though they rowed till their hands bled raw, and their muscles burned for oxygen, they made no headway. They were stuck. And none of the tools that had saved them before could save them now.
Have you ever been in such a spot?
If so Jesus has a word for you today: “Take heart. Fear Not. It is I.”
Second, because even though they were in the middle of the lake, in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the night Jesus’ eagle eye saw their trouble!
He sees yours, too!
He came to their rescue, and he comes to yours today!
As he walked over the waters to save them then; he walks over the chaos of your life now bringing salvation. Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!
The disciples thought their Deliverance was a ghost and were frightened all the more. But it is not only the disciples who thought that way. It’s what the unbelieving world thinks, too. That Jesus is nothing more than an a shadowy figure from the past who managed to get quite a following, but who lived and died: end of story. They don’t’ worship him, pray to him or call on him for salvation; but contemn him instead.
But nor is it only the world that thinks that way. Liberal Christianity is little better. Their message is that Jesus did not rise from the dead bodily, but only symbolically. And the only help he can render people today is to help them live better lives; and inspire them to take courage when the chips are down. But that’s not much help “amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” (TLH # 262)
Evangelical theology is only slightly better. It preaches a Jesus who bodily rose from the dead; but who is “circumscribed in heaven” (that is their term) at the right hand of the Father, where he must remain till the end of the age. He cannot leave. He cannot personally come to anyone’s aid today.
Now it isn’t our business to scold today – but only to say that the Lutheran faith you are practicing here today is very different from all that; may we recognize it and praise God for it.
We believe that Jesus, after his “holy innocent bitter sufferings and death” was bodily raised to new life. We believe that he is at God’s Right Hand where he ever displays his all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) But we also confess that God’s Right Hand is everywhere, so that Jesus is factually present with us today in the church.
Not in human form.
But it is his voice we hear when the Scriptures are recited; and his Body and Blood we eat and drink in the Lord's Supper. When we receive the Blessed Bread and Cup we touch, as it were, the hem of his garment, because Jesus comes to us dressed in these. Comes to us “in with and under the Bread and Wine” bringing safety to beleaguered disciples, and salvation to all who are sick in body and sick at heart.
May we be as spiritually perceptive as the people of Gennesaret! When Jesus disembarked St. Mark notes that the people “immediately recognized him.” And that “wherever he went” the village, city, countryside or marketplace, they went.
May we recognize him too. May we seek him and his gifts where he promises to be found. In this holy house where, by Word and Sacrament, Jesus touches us, and makes us well. And may we always hear his voice saying to us: “Take heart!. Don’t fear! It is I!” Amen