4th Sunday after Pentecost

4th Sunday after Pentecost

June 21, 2015

Mark 4:35-41

“Stuff I Always Wanted to Know but Never Asked – Part III”

Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is today’s Gospel lesson from Mark chapter 4.

My dear friends,


I have three college degrees – an Associate of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and a Masters degree in Divinity. However, to get the degree in English I had to work HARD. One of the classes that every English major dreaded was “Modern Structure and Usage.” Know what we spent the first 4 weeks of that class doing? Sentence diagramming. Anyone else remember that? A sentence diagram is a pictorial representation of the grammatical structure of a sentence. My guess is…they don’t even teach this anymore in school. Why? Because in a world where proper usage, vocabulary, and even spelling are almost non-existent, why teach an archaic art like sentence diagramming?

There is a new method of communicating – a new language if you will – that you and I are struggling to learn but your kids and grandkids know it well. I am referring to the lingo and jargon of text messaging. According to Experian, U.S. smart phone owners aged 18-24 send 2,022 texts per month on average — 67 texts on a daily basis. The median number of texts sent by teens was 60 per day.

And with this form of communication comes a whole new language. Do you know these? THX. “Thanks.” IMO. “In my opinion.” TBH.  “To be honest.” IKR. “I know, right?” ICYMI. “In case you missed it.” Here’s one of the newest ones: “143.” That means “I love you.” 1 for one letter, 4 for 4 letters, and 3 for 3 letters.

Well, apparently there was a breakdown in communication between the disciples and Jesus. In the Gospel lesson we have the well-known miracle of Jesus calming the storm with the result that the disciples asked out loud “Who then is this”?

Indeed…who IS this Jesus? Today, as I continue my sermon series “Stuff I Always Wanted to Know but Never Asked,” we will answer some questions about Jesus regarding the beginning and end of His life. Here are the questions for today: just after the resurrection, why did Jesus implore His followers not to touch Him until He ascended? Why didn’t the disciples recognize His resurrected body? Did Jesus’ body bear all the markings of His crucifixion? Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, related to David? How can we explain Jesus’ blood relation to David?

First question… just after the resurrection, why did Jesus implore His followers not to touch Him until He ascended? This question involves John 20:17 – “Jesus said to (Mary Magdalene), “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” What Jesus says literally in the Greek text is “do not keep clinging.” The point being that the resurrection witnesses were being prepared to “let go” of the physical Jesus and start preparing to tell others about Jesus because He would be on the earth for only 40 more days. There does not seem to be a physical reason like anyone touching Jesus would get burned or anything like that. It is a symbolic lesson to let go of physical contact and focus instead on the albeit new but necessary proclamation of the resurrection victory.

Now, how about Why didn’t the disciples recognize His resurrected body? I believe this is a question about Luke 24 and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. In John’s Gospel Jesus is on the shore while the disciples fish, but John tells us that they “knew” it was Jesus (John 21:12). The disciples in Luke 24, however, don’t know it’s Jesus. How come? In Luke 24:16 we find the verse “…their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Most commentators believe that the road to Emmaus disciples were kept from seeing Jesus because they too had failed to believe all that had been written by the prophets about what the Christ would do. Jesus rebukes them for that lack of belief in Luke 24:25-26 – “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Others write that Luke added this detail for suspense leading up to Jesus’ revealing Himself until they gather for table fellowship.

Next…Did Jesus’ body bear all the markings of His crucifixion? The answer seems to be YES. In John 20 is the well-known narrative of Jesus and Thomas in which Jesus has Thomas touch His post-crucifixion wounds. Additionally, in Revelation 5 John sees the Heavenly throne room where there is a Lamb “as though it had been slain” (5:6). Jesus’ body, as far as we know, is still the way it was when He ascended into heaven and, if the Bible is to be believed (it is!), then Jesus will come back looking like that: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Last one. Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, related to David? How can we explain Jesus’ blood relation to David? We know that Jesus comes from the line of David because His earthly “father” – Joseph – is from the house/line of David. That genealogical connection is made in Matthew 1 and Luke 2:4 – “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.” Jesus’ lineage to King David is tracked through Joseph and not Mary. At Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary were engaged/betrothed which was as legally binding as marriage today. Granted, Joseph was not His biological father, but for the purposes of genealogy, we say “close enough.”

As Mark’s Gospel progressed, Jesus provides the answer to “who then is this”? It’s not until a Roman soldier makes the connection at the conclusion of Mark that we “hear” the answer – “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39).

Wouldn’t it be cool if Jesus the Son of God would text message you? What might Jesus text? IKYP. “I know your pain.” IKYS. “I know your sin.” ISLY. “I still love you.” IDFY. “I died for you. URMC. “You are my child.” 1432. “I love you too.” 1434EVR.  “I love you forever.”

MGBY. “May God bless you” forever and ever.