Pentecost 8 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 18, 2021
Jeremiah 23:1-6, Psalm 23, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6:30-44

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            When my oldest son turned three we enrolled him in preschool in Illinois where we were living.  Some 3-year-olds love crazy spontaneity and are unconstrained by rules and order. Not my son.  He wanted things predictable and orderly beyond the ability of the teacher and the other 3-year-olds to provide.  He liked order.  They liked chaos.  We had to withdraw him from the class and wait for 4-year-old preschool.  What kind of parents are we?  Our first child…and he is a preschool drop out.

            Chaos can be very uncomfortable.  I really don’t like the chaos of large crowds where you are so tightly packed that you cannot move where you want, but just have to move with the crowd. I get panicky when I am at the mercy of a mass of humanity.

            Crowds can bring chaos, but there is also can be chaos in being alone.  This can happen after a divorce, the death of a loved one or having your spouse in a care center.  It can also happen after the kids leave home.  The regular order of your life is no longer there.  Plans for the future evaporate.  This chaos of being alone can leave you disoriented and anxious. 

            And there is the chaos of getting lost.  With GPS technology it is harder to get lost, but think of a time, maybe especially as a child where you got separated from your family and you could not find them.  Fear and panic starts to take over.  It is a very chaotic feeling.

            In our lessons today we find a lot of chaos.  In the reading from the prophet Jeremiah the Lord is chastising the religious leaders of Israel for being evil shepherds.  Instead of caring for the sheep, who are the people of Israel, the shepherds destroy the sheep and scatter them.  Instead of guiding them to live in an orderly, faithful way, the shepherds have scattered the sheep to live out their lives without faithful religious order.  They are on their own, lost in the wilderness of the pagan worship of Baal and Asherah and Molech.  They are lost in a world where the people who are supposed to be caring for the sheep are fleecing the sheep for their own gain.  The evil shepherds have brought chaos.

            In our Gospel reading we see the chaos of the crowds that are following Jesus. Mobs have been pressing in on him and are constantly surrounding Jesus so that He and the disciples are not even able to get something to eat.  They need a break from the chaos.  They need a time of peace and calm so Jesus and the disciples retreat by boat to get away from the crowds.  The crowds, however, see what they are doing and run ahead and are waiting for Jesus when He lands.  It is chaos.

            Jesus is fleeing the chaos and the chaos follows Him.  So, does He get back in His boat and try to find another place? No.  Jesus has compassion on the people.  His guts ache for these people in their chaos because…they are like sheep without a shepherd.  Jesus assumes His role as the Good Shepherd and spends the day teaching them many things. The day grows late.  They are in a desolate place.  The large crowd grows hungry.  The disciples want to send them away but Jesus has other plans.  Jesus enacts the promises of God with this great crowd of people.  Jesus is their shepherd. 

            Psalm 23:1–2 (ESV) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”  Here in the wilderness on the shore of the Sea of Galilee we see the Lord bringing peace and satisfaction to His people. 

            We see Jesus, the Good Shepherd, literally making the people recline in green pastures beside the still waters.  Out of chaos and hunger Jesus brings order and food.  Mark 6:39–40 (ESV) 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.  The disordered crowd is now set in order.  Like He did in the beginning with creation, Jesus brings order out of chaos.  Then, like feeding the children of Israel manna in the desert, Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people from five loaves of bread and 2 fish with 12 baskets extra remaining.  Psalm 23:5 (ESV) 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  

            There is great spiritual chaos in the world today. There is the chaos of false gods; gods that were made in the image of man.  In too many Christian churches there is the chaos of not knowing where you stand with God.  The chaos of not knowing — did Jesus die for me, or not.  Some teach that Jesus died for some but not for others and, as a natural born sinner struggling with temptation and sin, you are left in the chaos of constant doubt whether you are saved or not.  Others teach that you need to do enough to be saved.  Be sincere enough, have enough faith, give enough, do enough.  But people know they are never enough and are left in the chaos of doubt.

            There is the chaos of having been driven away from Jesus’ Church.  Many, many people have been hurt by abusive leaders in churches.  There have been horrendous instances of pastors, the under shepherds of God’s sheep, using and abusing the sheep for their own pleasure and benefit. This is despicable.  These evil under shepherds scatter the sheep.  And now the sheep are alone in the world. 

            Others find themselves in spiritual chaos because they have left the Church seeking the freedom to live however they choose.  There is a common phrase used by people who are not part of the Church, “I don’t believe in organized religion.”  They seek the freedom of chaos, but freedom means these sheep wander alone in the world and are easy prey for the devil who prowls like a roaring lion. 

The greatest spiritual chaos that you face in this life is the chaos of death. Nothing else leaves you reeling with so much emotion, whether it is the death of a loved one or facing your own mortality.  Death brings intense spiritual chaos. 

            There is the spiritual chaos of having a pastor who has abandoned the Bible as the source of authority; who only pays lip service to Scripture while preaching what people’s itching ears want to hear. Preaching about how to be successful in life and have God bless you with health and wealth.  Preaching that the source of moral authority is not God’s Word, but whatever is the newest, wokest idea flowing from the cultural elites.  There is chaos when God’s plans for men and women, for sexual intimacy, the sanctity of life, and even Jesus on the cross as the only source of salvation, are rejected as being outdated, hateful, medieval ideas.  It is chaotic to be part of a church that continually changes its teachings to go along with whatever society around them is doing.

The greatest spiritual chaos that you face in this life is the chaos of death. Nothing else leaves you reeling with so much emotion, whether it is the death of a loved one or facing your own mortality.  Death brings intense spiritual chaos. 

            There is so much chaos in life; it is a tangled, knotted mess.  Jesus untangles life.  Jesus brings order out of chaos.  Jesus brings you the Kingdom of God; the reign and rule of God.  Jesus’ reign of service and sacrifice brings spiritual order out of the chaos of this world.  Jesus establishes His Church and gives His disciples the authority to forgive sins and bring His sheep from the chaos of sin, guilt and shame to the order and peace of being the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.  Jesus dies for the sins of the world and rises from the dead to conquer death.  Jesus establishes the sacrament of baptism to seal His sheep as a part of His flock. Jesus establishes the sacrament of Holy Communion to continue to feed His sheep.  Jesus establishes His Church which gathers together to receive His gifts. 

            Each Sunday you take refuge from the chaos of the world as you gather together here in an orderly way to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Here, Jesus brings you from the tangled chaos of being a natural born sinner living in a sinful world, to the peace and order of knowing your sins are forgiven and you are right with God as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protects you in the valley of the shadow of death so you are at peace despite the presence of death.  Jesus guides you in the way of righteousness. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Christ conquers chaos for you.  Amen. 

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