Lost Sheep Running To Be Found

Updated: Jan 28

In 2 Samuel 7, we read of David wanting to build a permanent home for God.  He planned to build it out of cedar.  God told Nathan to make sure David knew: “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.”  God then added, “The Lord will make you a house.”


In Paul’s letter to the Christians of Ephesus, he told them, “You [Christians] are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”


The prophet Jeremiah wrote (in an optional reading), “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”


Going along with that prophetic thought that was expressed by Jeremiah, in the 2 Samuel 7 reading God also said, “I will raise up your [David’s] offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”


The one who was raised up for David as a righteous Branch and the offspring after David who had his kingdom established by God is Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus Christ, where Jesus was the delivery of that promised Savior.  David was the prototype of Jesus of Nazareth, as both were anointed, from birth, to be kings over Israel.


David had never sinned, just as Jesus never sinned, until David let his lust for another man’s wife drive him to defile Bathsheba and plot the murder of Uriah, laying the blame on the enemies of Israel.  David was close to sixty years of age when he committed his first (and only) sins.  To put that in perspective, Jesus was unjustly executed when he was close to thirty-four years of sinless living.  Jesus died without having sinned.


This human measurement in years of life is why Jesus was called a righteous Branch of David.  The House of David was a most holy human house, which Jesus would continue, but on a most Spiritual level.


This makes “will raise up” a double entendre, as not only was Jesus born as a human being, whose lineage traced back to the roots of Jesse [Matthew stated Joseph’s line went through Jesse, David, and Solomon, while Luke stated Mary’s line went through Jesse, David, and Solomon’s son Nathan], but Jesus was “raised up” by being the Son of God, born of a woman.  Further, Jesus was “raised up” to be a king of a house that was not of this world, but of one on a higher plane.


To understand the raising up of a Spiritual kingdom, one has to first understand God raising up the Kingdom of Israel, under David, whose holy rule was so complete it became the foundation (the flat, solid ground) upon which the cornerstone of Jesus Christ would be set (the the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of whom Paul wrote).  The House of David (Judaism) would give rise to the House of Jesus Christ (Christianity), with both houses built by God, not man.


Israel was a select group of people, chosen by God to be His priests sown into a world without meaningful religion.  The God of Abraham was one of many that the human beings of civilization worshiped, but the God of Abraham was the true God, thus the only one who offered the world a path to Salvation, where “salvation” can be defined as, “Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption.”


The same God met Moses and pronounced to him that the children of Israel could recognize Him as the God who sent Moses as “YHWH” (“יַהְוֶה”).  Moses had been raised by Egyptian royalty, so he knew the names of several gods.  The name God told Moses has the accepted meaning as “I Am That I Am.”  This is because it comes from the Hebrew word “hayah,” meaning, “to fall out, come to pass, become, be.”  All this says God comes to those that become God, such that naming God is relative to knowing God personally … Spiritually.


The children of Israel were forced by Moses, Joshua, and all the judges of Israel, to learn how to personally come to know God.  One cannot ever become a priest for Yahweh if one does not have God within one’s being, knowing He exists (He am?).  They attempted to bring God into their hearts by memorizing laws and rituals, and doing the works of discipleship; but they struggled making contact with God.


The Israelites often strayed in their beliefs.  A miracle every forty years helped to snap them into line; but because they never mastered being able to hear or see God – like the great prophets they followed and learned from had – they cycled up and down, back and forth, one step forward and two steps back.  This failure led the elders to go to Samuel and ask for a human king, like the ones who led other nations.


It is vital to understand how God told Samuel, “They [God’s chosen people] have rejected me as their king.”  The ones who God told Moses would know to recognize God’s “name” by accepting God within their hearts [“I Come That I Become”], were chosen to each serve God as their inner King.  Each priest of Yahweh was to be an individual Kingdom of Israel, amid of a collection of others who also were the same, as the nation of Israel.  However, the Israelites rejected God because being God on earth was too hard for the ordinary Israelite.


The people chose Saul, who God knew would not work out; but God allowed Saul to be anointed the King of Israel.  Saul failed, which is not a surprise.  All humans fail and Saul was no exception.  He was human.  Even the human David failed, and he was the exception.

When David took the reign of all the tribes of Israel, for the first time the Israelites found stability.  That stability was because David led the Israelites as an example.  David was one body who was one with God.  That oneness rubbed off on the Israelites, so they lived righteous lives and only feared not pleasing God.


One can presume the Israelites under David did a lot of works learning the Laws of Moses and doing all the extra things Jesus would later say good Jews should do, without being told to do those things.  They could feel God in their hearts and their consciences led them to do the right things.  In addition to that, they followed the commands of David as if God were speaking directly to them.


It is most important to see David in this light as the Good Shepherd of Israel.  His model would become that of Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah of the Davidic lineage.

David then was the Mind of God.  The Ark of the Covenant was where the Holy Spirit of God resided, which made that power source become reflective of the Heart of Israel.  As long as David was pure and the Ark was taken out to wherever David and the Israelites needed power for battle, the nation and their king were one body, of one Spirit.  Thus, for David to build a house for the Heart of Israel, God rejected that idea, asking (in essence), “What’s wrong with Israel and the Ark being together, one body and one Spirit?”


Jesus also possessed the Mind of God.  The power of the ark was one with him, as the miracles that surrounded Jesus.  The physical Ark of the Covenant had been lost by the waywardness of the Israelites.  The Temple of Solomon had long before been destroyed by invaders, because the Israelites (then the people of Judah) had rejected God as their king once again, and they had no God protecting their hearts.


This is the setting for today’s Gospel reading from Mark.  The Israelites had been scattered to the four corners of the world.  The Jews had been exiled in Babylon, then freed by the Persians to go back to the land the Persians then possessed, with a Second Temple erected in Jerusalem.  God sent Jesus into the hollow shell that the nation of Israel had become.

The presence of Jesus attracted followers.  We see Jesus had disciples, who had gone out into their own ministries, anointed by Jesus [as their king] to teach and cure.  We read they are returning with many stories of wonderful things done.


When Jesus saw how his disciples had need of nourishment and seclusion, he called for them to go to the mountain over Bethsaida.  Jesus was then gaining a name for himself and attracting pilgrims who wanted to meet him.  Those followers had tagged along behind Jesus and his disciples, following them to Bethsaida.  Jesus and his disciples met up with some family members in Bethsaida, when Jesus said, “Hey guys, let’s get on the boat and go to another harbor.  There we can get some R&R.”


This is where you need to get the picture that comes from this reading.  The reading says, “Now many [pilgrims] saw [Jesus and his family and disciples] going [on the boat] and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.”


The only way people on foot could know where a boat was going AND GET THERE AHEAD OF THE BOAT would be to run along a path that overlooked the sea, so they could see where the boat was going.


The Sea of Galilee is the world’s lowest freshwater sea, being almost seven hundred feet below sea level.  This means the hills that surround it are overlooking the sea AND the ridges are where the paths to travel are located.  So, knowing that Jesus and his disciples and family are going to where five thousand men would be fed five loaves and two fish, imagine the dust cloud generated by five thousand running pilgrims to be at the harbor Jesus was going, before he got there.


Now, I want you to think in terms of a stampede of livestock.  I want you to see this moving body as a flock of sheep.  I want you to think of them wanting Jesus to be their shepherd, because the only thing that goes through a sheep’s mind is, “Master feeds us.  Master keeps us safe.  Master heals our wounds.  Master cuts our hair.”


No one was doing that for those sheep.


Then we read, “[Jesus] had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”  That flock of lost sheep wanted to be found and they wanted to be fed.  Thus, when we read, “[Jesus] began to teach them many things,” this was him feeding the lost sheep … AND that was prior to him giving them any miracle of bread.


The miracle is not the focus of this week’s lessons.  The focus is on five thousand men, along with however many wives and children, running to meet Jesus at the dock when his boat landed.


Raise your hand if you have ever run like a wild animal to greet some loved one.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever butted shoulders with a fellow shopper at six in the morning, when some mall store’s doors opened on Black Friday … when the stampede began.


Raise your hand if you have ever been run on a tread mill in a doctor’s office, having some heart test done, when the speed gets so fast it makes you think you are not going to keep your feet and legs moving at that speed any longer, worried you are about to face-plant and go flying off the end of the tread mill.


You have to think of a personal experience that makes this scene real.  You have to know the motivation that drove five thousand men to run like wild sheep, all the while keeping an eye over their right shoulder, so the boat down on the water stayed in view.


You have to know: I don’t want to miss my loved one in a crowd, because I miss him or her so much.  You have to know: I don’t want to miss out on this sale, because I want to give more.  You have to know: I don’t want to fail this heart test, because I want to live.


When you really want something, then you are willing to do what it takes to get it.  Those Israelite pilgrims wanted Jesus to be their shepherd.  You have to know that desire.


This is how the Israelites under David wanted to please him.  They knew David wore the face of God, just as Moses had.  They knew David was anointed by God’s love to be their king AND they wanted to do as David said … to please David and to please God.  David had brought the Ark back from its exile, where it had remained (for the most part) since the Philistines gave it back to them.


Jesus had been witnessed by many doing the miracles of the ark.  He was teaching the meaning of the Torah like nobody ever had before.  The rumor mill was abuzz with “That Jesus dude.  He’s surely the Messiah, the way he marches out and marches in, just like David.”


Jesus was then more exciting than knowing four I-pods will be sold tomorrow morning, for $50 each, but only to the first four shoppers at the Apple Store.  The pilgrims were hurrying to meet a greater opportunity than that.


Can you imagine that desire?


Then, skipping over the miracles of feeding a multitude and Jesus walking on water, we read, “[Jesus, disciples, and family] had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.”  It was, perhaps, a couple of days later when this landing occurred; but we find that Jesus was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  The “other side” represents duality, such that there is a flip side to wanting to meet Jesus and be taught by Jesus.  Still, Jesus was drawing in the lost sheep on both sides.


We read, “When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.”


Before, the people were running, with some maybe carrying babies or holding the hands of a child while running.  Now, they are carrying their sick family members, along with the mats they are sickly on.  On both sides, lost sheep were running to get to Jesus.


The people were not walking leisurely up to Jesus and saying, “Excuse me, sir.  I hear you heal people.  Could I give you an address and you come see my aunt?  She’s looking pretty bad and could benefit from some help.”  They were running to Jesus with their sick, just so their loved ones in need could touch the tassel of Jesus’ prayer shawl or the hem of his robe.


Raise your hand if you ever saw a doctor that cured your illness just by sitting in his or her waiting room?


Not many have.


Seeing someone who professes to have the ability to touch you and heal you … only with the laying on of hands … comes from those who read, “All who touched [the fringe of Jesus’ cloak] were healed.”  People associate this with Jesus laying on his hands and healing the sick.  Such people who say they can be like Jesus are called “faith healers,” where the operative word is “faith.”


Faith is more than belief.  The Israelites under Moses and judges believed they were supposed to be priests of Yahweh, but they would regularly slide from belief to disbelief and then find themselves screaming out to God, “Save us!”  Faith was what David brought to the Israelites, such that their actions of faith never failed … until David failed his position of responsibility.  When David failed Israel, the nation slid from faith down to belief, and that old cycle of joy followed by misery returned to the land.


As a “raised” level of faith, Jesus offers those who follow him to also elevate their belief to that of faith, where faith means acts.  Faith runs to meet the Lord.  Faith carries the sick so they too can find the faith they need to heal themselves.


Sure, the sick touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak, but no magic spark flew from that garment into some sick person, healing them.  Nothing external made them well.  They reached out to Jesus, who wore the face of God, and they made contact so God’s Holy Spirit filled them.


God made them well, because of their faith had been “raised” from being a card-carrying Jew, one who believed he or she was special to God because they believed in the Laws of Moses, but one Jew seen then as being a sinner, because one had become sick.  The impure were made pure.


This is then relative to everyone here today.  You have to ask yourself, do I believe in God and that Jesus was His Son?  Or, do I know God is real because I Am That God Is and Jesus Christ has been resurrected in me.


You have to determine: Do I put God in a church building, which I visit Him regularly? And, do I make my priest, pastor, minister, or televangelist my personal guru, who tells me what to think and believe?   Or, do I put God in my heart and let the Christ Mind command my life actions?


Are you the holy temple of the Lord that Paul wrote of building?


Are you executing justice and righteousness in the land, as Jesus Christ reborn, being the Branch of the living vine that has grown within you, as Jeremiah wrote?


The lesson of David is he failed because he was human.  When all Israel depended on David for their salvation, David’s failure forced them to find God on their own.  They had to find God personally or be lost.


They got lost.


Still, because God had anointed David as the King of Israel, God stayed by David as that nation crumbled around him.  David was powerless to stop the pain and suffering that came from his sins.  Still, David was the prototype of Jesus Christ in that way, because each individual has always been called to serve God, so that God is the king within each one’s heart.  Jesus became the sacrificial lamb because he could not live on, as a human being, and become another external crutch that other humans would lean on as their reason to believe.


Jesus died so his Holy Soul could be duplicated within the bodies of the faithful.  God is passing out that everlasting miracle bread to those sheep that run to get it.  It not only tastes good, it makes all the hurts of the world go away.  It keeps one running to bring others to Redemption.


Mark’s writing says that each one of us is required to run like a lost sheep for the Good Shepherd.  We know where God is.  God is always to our right.  We have to show we want God, for God to send us His Son to teach us.  We have to show we know God, for God to lead us to bring others to Him for salvation.


We have to be responsible for our souls AND we have to do what it takes to show that God is our King.


Amen


#2018sermons #Mark63034 #Jeremiah2316 #NinthSundayafterPentecost #2Samuel7114 #Ephesians21122 #Mark65356