Homily for the tenth Sunday after Pentecost – The betrayer

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Good morning bus riders!


I hope everyone got the email with the link to the Episcopal lectionary page and everyone has read all the readings for today – options included. I talk about all of them today, not just a select one or few.


So, let’s get started!


In the four readings for today, excluding the two Psalms for the moment, I saw three characters appear in each. By that, I mean the characters speak. The Second Samuel reading featured Nathan, David and Yahweh. In what was really a two-way conversation, it can be seen that Nathan was actually the middle man, speaking for Yahweh.


Can you see that?


<Look for nodding heads.>


In the Exodus reading, Moses and Aaron are a pair that act as one, with the multitudes of Israelites acting as another, with Yahweh being the third. It is like the Second Samuel threesome, multiplied, especially when the manna and quails become extensions of Yahweh speaking.


Can you see that?


<Look for nodding heads.>


Now, the Ephesians reading is less clear. You have to look closely. One character, certainly, is Paul, the writer of the letter. The second character, of course, are collectively all the Ephesians to whom Paul wrote. They do not speak here, as Paul speaks for them; but they had spoken with Paul, prompting him to write them. The third, hidden speaker, is David. That is because Paul quoted Psalm 68:18 in his letter.


The Gospel reading is the hardest to see; but it is something like seeing David in the Ephesians reading, when David was not there and physically did not say anything. See if you can see the third character here.


One, certainly, is Jesus. The second, of course, are those people who found Jesus in Capernaum. The third person is Judas Iscariot.


Can you see that?


<Look for quizzical faces and shaking heads.>


The reason the people went to Capernaum to find Jesus was they had been the ones served by Judas; and, he left them so dissatisfied, they needed to find Jesus.


To be honest, back in 2018, when pondering the meaning of the feeding of the five thousand – last Sunday’s Gospel lesson – I saw the dividing of the multitude into twelve groups. I saw a glimpse of how what happened subsequently was due to Judas; so, not all the five thousand went looking for Jesus. However, this past week I saw how clearly it was Judas that made the people feel like they had been cheated.


When I saw Judas be the third character in this reading, as hidden as is Psalm 68:18 unidentified, it made all of the readings have a central theme. That theme has each of the four readings feature an aspect of treachery … of betrayal … of a lack of faith. Some are clearer than others. Some are warnings against it, from having seen it at work; but all deal with this theme.


David was the clearly the one who betrayed Yahweh. When Nathan told David a parable of a poor man with a little ewe lamb, David was so blind to his treachery he was angered and screaming at Nathan how that rich man had to be severely punished.


Nathan cried out loudly, “You are the man!”


In the Second Samuel reading the conversation needs to be seen as Yahweh no longer speaking directly to David; so, Yahweh spoke to David through Nathan. At no time did Nathan express his own opinion about David. David was his king and mentor.


Nothing David did broke any laws by which kings live by. The king is the law. Yahweh told that to the Israelite elders when they went to Samuel demanding to have a king made of human flesh and bones. David had the right to do what he did, simply because he was the king.


The conversation between Yahweh and David reads like a lawyer telling one divorcee what he is going to get out of this deal. It isn’t pretty.


Yahweh said [through Nathan]: “I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”


Ouch.


With David found guilty of betraying his marriage agreement, which superseded all the things kings could do, he strongly plays the role of bad guy in the Second Samuel reading.


Before I bring in Psalm 51, let’s now look at the Exodus reading. Here, the bad guy character is played by the Israelites – the “whole congregation” – who “complained against Moses and Aaron.” Moses and Aaron have the same rile as Nathan, as the spokesmen for Yahweh. Yahweh told Moses, “I have heard them grumbling.”


Now, the lack of faith displayed by the Israelites is nothing like the sins of David. David was angry at hearing Nathan speak metaphorically about what David did, so angry he wanted to severely punish the hypothetical man.


The Israelites were bellyachers – a stiff-necked and rebellious lot – but they have to be seen as infants. Babies cry all the time, demanding everything be done for them. Because Moses looked out and saw a whole congregation of adults that were not babies, he was angered when: “some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.”


Yahweh tested their ability to follow instructions; but like all kids who have been told to clean their room … don’t look under the bed if the room looks cleaned.


Still, the Israelites had to be made on the same page with Moses and Aaron, for them be rewarded with a Promised Land.


Rather than a divorce settlement, the Israelites were fed spiritual food. By consuming spiritual food, their souls were opened to receiving the Spirit of Yahweh, similar to the marriage of soul to Spirit Aaron and Moses knew. While not quite the same [after all they were still developing souls, like children], the spiritual food made them willing participants in the religion that was being developed, and all the good things that are truly associated with religion.


While we don’t read much about the delivery of free quail in the Exodus reading, Psalm 78 goes into that.


If you read the Hebrew just right, the quail change from being barbequed fowl and become “winged creatures” that “fell upon the inward parts” of the Israelites, remaining in their “camp.”


That explains the reason Yahweh only sent them once, in the evening, after they ate the spiritual food that opened up their souls to enlightenment. They became the elohim I’ve been talking about.


Again, this came to me while reading Psalm 78. This brings out a tidbit of information about that song that is not read in the English translation. That is Psalm 78 is a seventy-two song that is called “A compilation of Asaph.”


I had to look up what that meant; and, Asaph is said to be a musician-singer that was appointed by David.


When I meditated on the seven verses we read from it – which addresses the Exodus story of the manna and quail – I was looking to see if Asaph was just pencil-whipping this son, while remembering his Torah teachings. If he was, then he was not divinely inspired, like David.


I saw divine inspiration; and, that got me to thinking.


When some website [Wikipedia] says David ‘appointed’ Asaph, that needs to be seen in the same way Moses ‘appointed’ the whole congregation of Israelites to gather and eat manna. That took me to Nathan.


A Wikipedia article on Nathan said he was “one of the court prophets.” That presumes somewhere David established a place for prophets to be trained. Samuel was dropped off at one by his parents and left. There, he was taught by Eli, “If you hear the voice again, it is Yahweh, so say, “Here I am.”


How does a prophet suddenly start hearing the voice of Yahweh? Nathan first appears in Second Samuel when David told him of his plan to build Yahweh a house of cedar. Nathan’s reaction then says how he became a prophet.


Nathan told David, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for Yahweh is with you.”


It was afterwards that Yahweh told Nathan to tell David to nix the cedar building plan.

This past week, I began to see how Nathan was ‘appointed’ to be a prophet by David, because David was filled with the Spirit of Yahweh, given such powers to pass the Spirit along to others. That is the purpose of being so filled.


Jesus commissioned his twelve lead disciples and ‘appointed’ them to go into ministry with the powers of Yahweh’s Spirit with them. This has to be seen as what the feeding of the Israelites manna brought about.


Before the manna they grumbled. After the manna they were led by divine insight.’


Nathan, having been passed the power of prophecy – a divine talent given and received – had been touched by David. David obviously had the Spirit of Yahweh; so, when David said, “I’m going to build Yahweh a house,” Nathan thought, “If you are filled with Yahweh [enough to fill me and many others also], then it must be Yahweh telling you to do that. So, “Go.”


If David commissioned a prophet that could talk with Yahweh and a singer-musician to divinely write song lyrics and compose music to put to those words, the whole of Israel was likewise touched by David being filled with Yahweh’s Spirit.


The same passing of the Spirit set upon the Israelites following Moses, because of the manna they were fed.


Now, it should be realized that being passed the Spirit by a leader is not a permanent condition. Marriage of a soul to Yahweh brings about that. This is something like a halo effect, where the aura of a leader extends to those receptive to that leader.


The halo effect become a form of possession, rather than marriage. The Israelites were divinely possessed by being followers of Moses. The Israelites were then divinely possessed by being followers of David. The Jews were then divinely possessed by being followers of Jesus.


In between, there was the loss of this effect.


Now, returning to the central theme, let’s examine the three characters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I said the character of the betrayer, of unfaithfulness, was in the unseen influence that caused Paul to give the warning: “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.”


The Israelites were the “children of God.” As children they complained like babies. They needed the halo effect to pacify them.


David’s Israelites were also the children of God. For a nation that wanted to be led by a king, they needed a king who was possessed divinely; so, from his lead the halo effect could lead them to also be divinely led.


Jesus called his disciples and followers “little children,” which is why when he was unjustly punished and hung dead on a cross before them, the halo effect wore off and they ran and hid like children.


When one sees Paul like the spiritual parent of the Ephesians, he wrote to them like his children; although, they were truly Christians, like he was, because his presence among them became manna that opened their souls to receive the Spirit of Yahweh in marriage. Thus, Paul wrote like a parent of children to other parents of children, warning them to make sure their children are raised to marry Yahweh, so they do not lose the effect of the parents’ aura.


The words of Paul’s letters could not have passed on the halo effect to readers that were not divinely married to Yahweh. That is why all of the Epistles were written; and, that is why they demand a fixed position in the lectionary every Sunday.


Just like Yahweh tested the Israelites to see if they would follow His instruction given through Moses, the Epistles are testing all priests to expose the truth of their marriage commitment to Yahweh. If they do not preach the truth of an Epistle, then they have no Spirit of Yahweh to pass on to others.


They have no access to the manna from heaven that will open one’s soul to receive the winged creature that will guide their bodies of flesh to righteous ways.


Because I wrote deeply about the Ephesians reading back in 2018 and everything I wrote then is still valid, I chose not to rewrite what I had written before. Instead, I was led to only read the capitalized words in this selection from Paul’s letter.


There are seventeen capitalized words in sixteen verses.


By just reading those words, this can be seen stated: “Invite Lord of Spirit – Spirit Lord – God Father – One of Anointed one having Ascended – he Ascended * - of Anointed one of Son of God – of Anointed one the Anointed one.”


I invite, as always, you to read the full commentary I posted last week, as well as the longer one I posted in 2018. I offer it as manna. The test is how much one is willing to gather.


Not read today, but part of the story of Exodus 16 says, “The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” [Exodus 16:17-18]


The test is in the gathering.


The point here is the warning of Paul, which the true Christians of Ephesus knew, was not being married to the Spirit meant it was possible to be “tossed to and fro, by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, and by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.”


In the same way that David quit being a divine king, he too became a betrayer of his marriage commitment to Yahweh. Paul was warning the other wives of Yahweh not to be led by their children’s way, but lead their children’s ways.


The world is always full of lures and distractions, designed to test one’s marriage vows.

This leads to the three characters in the Gospel reading from John, where the betrayer is an unstated Judas Iscariot. Judas is the epitome of one who pretends to be righteous, but never believes what he says, only saying what he says because he thinks that is what people want to hear.


The feeding of the five thousand has to be seen as an event administered by the apostles of Jesus. The apostles were those ‘appointed’ by Jesus to pass out the spiritual food – the manna – so those receiving the Spirit would become Jews possessed divinely.


The filling of twelve baskets of leftover bread, when only one small basket of loaves and fish began the event, has to be seen as the five thousand leaving their own offerings of physical bread. The multitude was physically fed because of the five thousand sharing amongst themselves; and, that is like people placing checks into an offering tray when they go to a church.


The missing element of Judas has to be seen in the motivation for some of the multitude to follow Jesus and find him in Capernaum.


The majority of people had already departed the grassy area by the sea the previous evening. They were not looking to see if Jesus left with his disciples on boats. They spent the night there because they wanted to see Jesus.


The question is why?


People like to talk after a church service, especially when a sermon has been spiritually uplifting and moving. After witnessing the miracle of being fed spiritual food, so their souls opened and winged creatures came and possessed their souls, those people were saying things like, “Best sharing of food I ever experienced. So glad we came and gave, because what we received in return was tenfold.”


Those fed by Judas were hearing that banter and thinking, “What?!?! Nothing like that happened to me. I gave my bread and got nothing in return, other than some flimsy excuse of a sermon about Scripture. That Judas fellow didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t already heard many times in other synagogues..”


They waited all night to see Jesus, to demand they get what the others were saying they got. When Jesus was determined to have already left the ‘open air synagogue,’ they went looking for him.


This past week I found the key to their anger – their complaining to Jesus – is found in the address they used: “Rabbi.”


I found the Greek word (rooted in Aramaic) is “Rhabbi” [with an “h”], which means “My Rabbi.” (Strong’s)


It is easy to miss this as a sign of anger, because it seems like they recognize Jesus as a teacher, which means he was a master of Scripture. However, the inference is they felt Jesus owed them something.


That greeting has to be seen like the whole congregation of Israelites complaining to Moses, when they said, “If only we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”


That was them calling Moses “My Rabbi,” because that said, “We gave you our trust and now you give us nothing in return!”


Can you see that?


<Look for nodding heads.>


All of the Jews who numbered in total about five thousand were primarily from out of town. Some might have been around long enough to hear Jesus preach in the area by the sea. They might have planned to go listen to Jesus while in town; but there is absolutely nothing in that free giving by Jesus that would allow anyone to claim ownership of Jesus as “My Rabbi.”


Because the word is capitalized, it takes on a divinely elevated meaning, which goes beyond a simple address. That meaning says these Jews who found Jesus had an expectation set, because they had given freely of their own possessions. They fed strangers because they felt a nibble of bread, a taste of fish and a sermon about Scripture by an intern taught by Jesus inspired that sense of giving.


They had heard all the afterglow talk by others; but they didn’t get any of that. They felt they deserved receiving the same as the others … the ones not fed crap by Judas.


Simply from these complaining Jews finding Jesus and addressing him as if he owed them something, it is possible to see why Jesus responded to them by saying, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”


Jesus knew they did not experience any uplifting sermon, like the others did. Jesus knew all they got out of the experience was less food to carry back with them, after they ate and shared with others.


When Jesus then told the Jews, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal,” he was telling them their work searching for Jesus meant they were working to get their money’s worth out of a teacher.


This is basically how most vestries in Episcopal churches approach Jesus week after week, year after year. They expect to gain a profit from the business of religion, which is the “work for food that perishes.”


Jesus saying, “the Son of Man will give you [the food that endured for eternal life]. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal” is how the same “seal of approval” was on Moses and on David.


The “food that endures for eternal life” is spiritual food, the manna from heaven, which opens a soul to receive the Spirit of Yahweh in marriage. The entrance of “winged creatures into their inward parts” makes them possessed spiritually … as bridesmaids.


It all boils down to that commitment of marriage.


Basking in the glow of divinity – the halo effect – is not permanent. It is like being given a lamp that requires oil to work, with the oil up to one to provide. To keep oil in the lamp, so it works when needed, one has to do the work that brings oil into one’s possession.


The disgruntled Jews that followed Jesus had given freely to others; but they were not repaid in kind.


Jesus told them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”


All the other Jews numbered in the five thousand had received that manna from the eleven apostles who were extension of Jesus. It was not them that sent those happy customers out into the world as themselves divinely possessed to serve Yahweh, believing in Jesus, but Yahweh working through them … just as He worked through the Son.


To say “gives life to the world,” that means the promise of heaven for souls after death. Without that gift, there is only death to the world.


Judas Iscariot was then a reflection of those he served, as the Jews believed they deserved eternal life simply from being born Jewish. Judas gave them the truth of that belief. By not consuming spiritual food from Yahweh, they felt dead inside. Their inward parts had no fluttering of a winged creature placed in their souls.


When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” that says Jesus is the manna from heaven. Yahweh sent His Son not to be some bobble-head idol on a car dashboard. Jesus was not sent to be an icon hanging on a church wall or around one’s neck.


Judas Iscariot was the prototype of not being the bread of life. Any soul not married to Yahweh is the bread of death … “the food that perishes.”


The other eleven apostles were the bread of life, because they had been divinely possessed by Jesus. They took Jesus to their groups of the five thousand and fed Jesus to them, so they too became the bread of life.


The lesson here, through being able to see the betrayer character in all the readings, is everyone who believes in God wants to be able to think they are all going to heaven. To get to heaven they have to agree to marriage to Yahweh. The Covenant is the wedding vows of commitment.


It is easy to follow Jesus out into the wilderness, living on the halo effect of a fantasy honeymoon; but then comes the reality of holy matrimony not all being peaches and cream. There is work to be done.


The Israelites complained they were tricked into the engagement. The Jews who followed Jesus felt they were tricked into giving their own food to feed others; and, they too wanted the rabbi they possessed to give them what they deserved.


David was the only betrayer who owned up to his failure, when he said, “I have sinned against Yahweh.”


David’s soul was still filled with Yahweh’s Spirit.


In Psalm 51 is an introduction written by David that does not come with the translation read. It says, “When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” David admitted his sins.


Like Adam, David was allowed to fail, because there can be no human kings who will forever live to provide halo effects to their followers. Yahweh is the ONLY KING, which means each soul must marry Him. Therefore, David sinned and repented; so, his soul gained entrance into heaven.


In Psalm 51 there is nothing stated by David’s soul … through divine insight leading his words … that pleaded to Yahweh, “Let me go back to before I sinned and make everything go away.”


David never asked Yahweh to not do any of the punishments that David knew he deserved, because he had sinned and should be punished. David begged for his soul to still be an instrument of Yahweh on earth.


David did the works that said he was still fed “the food that endures for eternal life.” He did the crimes, so he served the time.


The lesson of this tenth Sunday after Pentecost says Yahweh is in conversation with all who take the time to eat these words of Scripture, which have been set aside for today’s consumption. Yahweh is then speaking to you. The medium, like Nathan, like Moses and Aaron, like Paul, and like Jesus, is the Scripture that passes this spiritual food onto you.


The question is now: Are you betraying Yahweh by not accepting His proposal of marriage?


You can’t blame it on some hired hand, like some Judas Iscariot, who does not give an uplifting sermon about the promise of eternal life that comes from being reborn as Jesus, the Son of man.


That is already built into the Scripture. It is up to you to realize that.


You have no reason to complain.


Well, I see the top of the bus down the street at the intersection; so, I’ll end here.


I pray this week will find you doing the work that brings you the food that brings you eternal life. Until next Sunday, take care.


Amen