The cloth of our lessons is woven from the fabric of promises -- the promises that run from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, promises that are fulfilled in the Gospel lesson and realized in the Epistle reading for this day, the promises of God to God's creation to be a faithful God.
On this seventh Sunday after Pentecost, God's word to us is a reminder of the promises made, kept, and waiting to be made manifest in our lives. The question for us is are you flowing in the anointing God has placed on your life?
In this cloth woven of promise before us today, there is a thread that runs through this cloth that pulls the thought, the theme, of the lessons for today together. There is continuity in the pattern of promises as this thread of shepherding stands present in each of our lessons today, either implicitly or explicitly.
Our Gospel text does not stand alone but is an example of God's ancient promises made to our ancestors and being realized in the shepherding spirit of Jesus. David desires to build the Lord a house in the first reading from 2nd Samuel. God's response is "I will make a house out of you." God has demonstrated through the action of Jesus in our Gospel reading God's desire to dwell in the hearts of God's people.
The idea of Jesus flowing in his anointing comes from the Psalms, Psalm 98, verse 20: "I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him."
There is no doubt or question to Jesus being of the line and lineage of David, the beloved King of Israel and Judah. There is no doubt or question to the utter failure of most of all of the kings that followed Solomon. There has been no loyal king, no faithful leader, no shepherd for God's people.
The promise of God is a prophetic promise of the Divine God fulfilled in the human heart of Jesus. The horizontal and vertical planes' intersection is the cross, yes, even the cross of Christ.
In the Gospel text, Jesus is ministering to his disciples, ministering to those who had just come back from ministering. Jesus mentored them in ministry. He shepherded them, and then he shepherded the people who had come to sit under his teaching.
Mark's Gospel gets right into the ministry of Jesus--no genealogy, no birth narrative, little background info on John the Baptist. No, Mark's Gospel goes right to the action of Jesus in the ministry God has revealed. Jesus is flowing in his anointing.
What is this anointing that keeps being referred to? It is the appointment, the purpose, the assignment that God places upon all who are called into service by God. When Jesus began his ministry, he went to his home town and to the synagogue where the Torah, the Scroll, had been brought before him. He found the place in Isaiah 61:1 where it says,
The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
We find Jesus in the Gospel of Mark living out that anointing on his life. He has sent the disciples out to minister in various regions, and they have come back with a report. (Mark 6:30)
We find this pericope jumping around, skipping verses 1-29 and again 35-53. I mention this only because we must be aware of what is missing so that we may understand why we are where we are.
Verses 1-6 speak of a prophet without honor. This is in reference to the job description with which Jesus identifies -- Jesus' anointing to do a special work.
Verses 7-13 tell of the disciples being sent out and the anointing that was upon them. They preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. They were anointed; and flowing in their anointing, they poured out that anointing upon others.
What an act of faith! By the word of the Lord, they went out, preached repentance for the forgiveness of sin, stood up against demons, called them by their names, cast them out, healed many sick people with nothing but oil, prayer, and strong faith, and they healed them.
We the church have the same ability today if our faith was as strong as the disciples'. How many of us have a problem with going out to do anything much anymore? We say, "It's too dangerous."
The unsaved have a problem with our faith because they don't see where we have faith in our faith. Many believers only believe so much concerning the promises of God, but God's promises are true. The Scriptures tell us that if we go in the power of God that God will go with us and before us as our protector, as our guide, and our purpose.
But back to Mark. Verses 14-29 report the death of John the Baptist, another who flowed in the power of his anointing. John didn't pretend to be what or who he wasn't. He was glad to be a part of God's plan and purpose in fulfilling God's promises to God's creation.
And verses 30-35 bring us to the point where Jesus is shepherding, mentoring his disciples and allowing the anointing that is upon him and in his life to flow. Verse 34 says, "When Jesus landed and saw a great crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things." What would you imagine Jesus taught them? Was it the Sermon on the Mount or the Olivet discourse, (or what) the kingdom of heaven is like? What did Jesus teach them?
I would dare suggest that Jesus taught them what God had done in fulfilling God's promises to bring a shepherd to them. He taught them that God's desire was to dwell in the hearts of God's people, not in buildings but wherever they are and whatever they are going through. He taught them many things regarding living as servants of the Most High God -- accountability, responsibility.
And then we jump from verses 35-52, which record Jesus shepherding the people who had come to him by feeding 5,000 plus women and children. But the miracle is in their response to the teaching that had just occurred. They heard what Jesus said and responded to it by sharing their food with one another. Jesus is walking on water to the disciples who are afraid because they have seen a figure and believe it is a ghost. How strange or extraordinary things can challenge our faith. Is it the hand of God at work in our life, in our situation, in our circumstance, or is it something else? Could it truly be Jesus who has shown up to deliver me in the midst of my trouble?
Verses 53-56 move us to the end of the pericope and the message today, of Jesus and the disciples landing at Gennesaret.
As soon as they got there (in verses 54-56), the people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout the region and carried their sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Wherever he went into the villages or town or countryside, they placed the sick in the market places. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Can't you just see Jesus out there healing people and their being slain in the spirit as he walks by, saying and pointing, "Loose! Come out! Forgiven! Cured! Healed!"
As I close today, let me suggest that we who claim to have an anointing on our lives, those who claim that the Lord is their shepherd, we had better know that there is responsibility and accountability for that anointing upon you. God has not anointed you so that you may simply glory in your anointing but that you may give God the glory, empowered to shepherd someone into the reconciling faith in God through Jesus Christ. No, you have to do something with what has been given you. You have to lead somebody to Christ. Twenty years in church and never brought anyone to Christ? Lift up Jesus before humanity. You have to tell somebody that God was able to take you from the "guttermost" to the uttermost, that through Christ your scars have become stars, your sorrows into joy, and I mean unspeakable joy!
Ephesians 2: 19-22 reads:
Consequently, you and I are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and raised to become holy temple in the Lord. And in him you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by God's Spirit.
God lives in us by the grace, mercy, will, and purpose of God that we may allow the power of God to flow through us to humanity. Are you flowing in your anointing? Amen.