The “S” Word Ephesians 5 Mark 7 First St Johns Church Aug 23, 2015

[For the audio version, please click above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and those who hear and respect God’s Word and not man’s said … AMEN!

God’s plan is just so perfect, it’s a circular sort of situation, that doesn’t mean, as always, that we get what we want all the time, we seem to not understand that relationship is not “hey you jump through hoops for me and then maybe I will love you”. This is what we have in society today and why there is this widespread and deep unhappiness and even resentment. We all submit to Jesus. Submit to your husband, because he is the one that is called to love his wife and not just our squishy kind of love, but the same love Jesus had for the church! Jesus died for the love of His church, men are called to love their wives, agape love, to the point of sacrificing themselves. If your husband will do that for you, doesn’t that suggest respect and submission to him?

Oh baby, anyone preaching on Ephesians 5: 21-33 can just feel the ice cracking around his feet. The “S” word! OHHHHH, no one likes to “S”, S being of course “submit, submission”. Oh no! In today’s world, everyone is an expert, everyone knows it all, we are the most equalitarian society in the history of the earth. Apparently if you are born an American, you are an immediate expert on everything and anything. More and more I’m beginning to see that attitude rather cynically. At my age, you’d think that I would have become pretty much irreparably cynical and yet, more and more I find myself realizing that when I submit to God as His minister, to His people, He does work it out according to His will. Romans 8:28 does seem to get a workout, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Isn’t this part of what the Christian life is all about?

When we say “for those who love God”, doesn’t loving someone mean submitting to Him in order for the good of all concerned? Submission doesn’t mean, just throwing in the towel and mindlessly following. It does mean, at some point you just have to trust that the person.

Certainly the military and corporate environments are a lesson in those areas. There are plenty of times where you’re not sure about something that has to be done, you want to fuss over it a little more, but at some point it’s obvious you have to do what you’re entrusted to do, do it to the best of your ability, so that there will be success. If this is what you’re led to do, it may not be perfect, but it becomes your responsibility to make it as perfect as it can be.

Professor Jeffrey Oschwald observes the shift from chapter 6 to chapter 7. People are running to Jesus, the people: “ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. ESV Mark 6:56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” Oh yeah, they wanted Jesus then. Last week’s sermon after Jesus fed thousands and then said OK, now that you have a full stomach, let’s talk real stuff, you have to eat my body and drink my blood to fill your soul, to have real life. Yea, they weren’t so much into that and decided to pick up and leave. In today’s reading, the people are flocking to him and Jesus has healed a number of people, what happens? The Pharisees and the scribes confront Him over a ticky-tack little issue about the disciples washing their hands. Obviously these guys are trying to provoke a confrontation. It’s about 90 miles from Jerusalem, where they’ve come from, to the northern part of the Sea of Galilee, they’re not going to make that trip lightly, they feel threatened and have decided to find any little thing they can in order to pick a fight with Jesus, to somehow discredit Him. You can certainly see Jesus’ frustration. “Here I am, God the Son, look at all these things I’ve done. I’m trying to get you to see real life and what are you doing? Getting up in my grill about a ticky-tack little issue about washing hands? Really?”: “ESV Mark 7:6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘ This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; ESV Mark 7:7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ESV Mark 7:8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” ESV Mark 7:9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Jesus is referring to the quote in today’s reading from Isaiah: “ESV Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, ESV Isaiah 29:14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

Obviously Jesus is frustrated and is telling them to get a grip. Are you going to stick to your quibbling little traditions or are you going to see what’s going on here. God the Son is here! It’s time to submit to His will, quit worrying about the petty stuff and see what’s really happening!”

Dr Oschwald observes: “If you had the opportunity for a private audience with Jesus, would you argue about the proper way to wash up before a meal?… Jesus’ opponents seem to have completely lost sight of what really matters before God. The way they ask their question suggests that the root of the problem is that they’ve begun to put human concerns before and above what’s important in God’s eyes. Our initial sympathy with the Pharisees’ concern over clean hands at the table goes right down the drain when we begin to see the real problem in all its seriousness.”[1] We, you and I, often have to stop and ask ourselves; are we going to pick a fight over the trivial stuff or do we look around us and see what Jesus is doing, what great things are happening around us. How to point to, contribute to, focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing and do it to His glory, to the glory of Jesus’ church. How do we proclaim to the world what is going on in His service, to His glory?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

[1] Rev Dr Jeffrey Oschwald   Concordia Pulpit Resources Vol 25, Part 3, Series B p 39

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