The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Readings – II Samuel 11: 1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3: 14-21; John 6: 1-21
The Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading are about contrasting kings, King David, and the long-awaited King of Heaven, Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel, we hear the very familiar tale of Jesus feeding the crowd. It was supper time and there seemed to be very little on hand, five barley loaves (the bread of the poor), and two fish. The five thousand sat down on the grass, and Jesus took what was offered. The crowd knew this was one of the signs of the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom, and they rose up to proclaim him King of Israel. Then Jesus ran to the hills to escape their plan.
I am unsure what the disciples thought about this move by the crowd. Perhaps Jesus sent them on ahead to the other side of the lake, or perhaps he escaped them as well. Perhaps they, too, were ready to proclaim him King of Israel. So, there they were rowing across the lake when the wind came up and was against them. Jesus escaped the crowd, and it appears that he was planning to join them on the other side of the lake by walking across it when he was spotted. They spotted him; he got in the boat, and they immediately reached their destination. A quick thought, rowing with Jesus in the boat makes for a surer way to reach any desired destination.
However, another thought, that it is easy to lose between the miracle of feeding the five thousand, and the walking on the water across the lake. Jesus fled the crowd, and perhaps the disciples, too, because to be made the King of Israel by the crowd was not his mission! He was not to rule from Jerusalem! He was to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and to invite others to join him in doing God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His mission was to guide our hearts, our minds, and our strength, not to guide the government. Jesus fled the crowd so that he could continue to focus on his mission.
Now let’s shift to the other king, the King of Israel, King David. We have heard a lot about him this summer through our readings. Remember, David was anointed as the second king of Israel as a young shepherd boy. Remember, David, stood up to Goliath, the bully, and dispatched him with his sling and a smooth stone from the creek. Remember, David danced into Jerusalem as king, uniting the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, and on the mount of Jerusalem brought together the Tent of Meeting and the Ark of the Covenant.
And then there is today’s reading. David stayed home “when Kings go out to battle”. Joab, his commander, went out to battle. His officer corps went out to battle. All the soldiers went out to battle. And what did King David do? He stayed in his comfortable palace. He stayed home. He was the anointed King; he was anointed to lead the troops, and he stayed home. Already, King David had lost focus on his mission, on his purpose.
Then, he spied Bathsheba; the King became a “peeping Tom”. And it continued to unravel more and more. The King became an adulterer; the King became a schemer; and finally, King David became a murderer. He used his kingship, his trusted position, his resources, to indulge himself.
Joab, the commander of the soldiers, enabled Uriah’s murder. “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” Uriah, a foreign fighter,
was presented as a good man who in contrast to the king, did not even visit with his wife while home on leave. Uriah was on target, on a mission; he was doing his part as a soldier in the King’s army.
From Psalm 42 we heard these words, “The Lord God looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise if there is one who seeks after God”.
To be wise is to seek to do God’s will, to seek to do our part, just like we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
The crowd of five thousand who rose up after being feed with five loaves and two fish did not get it right.
The disciples did not get it right time after time after time.
Joab did not get it right in sending Uriah, the Hittite, to his death.
Bathsheba did not get it right in giving in to the king’s desires, though perhaps she had little choice.
David, the anointed King of Israel, went from unfocused to criminal behavior, to murder, and surely did not get it right.
Only Jesus got it right. He slipped away from the crowd as they rose up and attempted to make him king.
Jesus stayed focused on his calling, on his purpose, on his mission.
In our daily walk of faith, I hope that we will be like Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed of God. We all have a part to play with the gifts we have received. We all have a part to play in “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Yes, from time to time we may lose focus on our mission.
Yes, from time to time, we may miss the mark on our mission.
Yet, Remember the words of the Psalmist, “When the Lord God looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise if there is one who seeks after God”, may he find us as wise. May the Lord God find us on the mission, seeking to do his will, today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come.