Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Year B Christmas 1 WED Seal of Approval
Year B Christmas 1 WEDNESDAY, 3 January 2018
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Seal of Approval”
15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. 22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 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.”
My family went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the First. It was packed with a lot of people who had this rare Monday off. We, like so many, went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors of Emperor Q’in. It was fascinating and beautiful, and a bit overwhelming.
Part of the exhibit, though, was about other parts of being Emperor, not just his death and all the statues of the Mausoleum. There were coins, and there were so many other artifacts, but one that struck me was the Emperor’s Seal.
He had a brass seal that showed that which received the imprint was official and trustworthy as coming from the Emperor. Messages were written on bamboo stripes, then bound by twine or string and then a clay seal was placed on the knot and the imprint of the Emperor’s authority was placed on it. They even had some of the clay seals there for us to see.
Jesus had God’s seal, and it says as much in today’s reading. “For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” [John 6:27b] Just like the clay, Jesus had the seal of authority on him.
If the feeding of the crowd did not show it…
If the walking on water and beating the boat across did not show it…
The authority of the Son showed that he was not of or limited by this world.
And I loved how Jesus refused to be sidetracked by two competing parties. At the beginning, people who wanted to set him up as king, Jesus had to run from. [When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:15] That was not his time, nor was it his role (as they saw it anyway).
And then there were the sycophants who wanted full bellies. One of the greatest detriments to our spiritual health it listening to too much WII-FM (What’s In It For Me-ism). The spiritual life is about God and our relationship with God. Jesus saw their personal intentions as much as he saw the political intentions of the earlier crowd.
When we let go of the temporal and focus on the eternal, we find that they both work out. Or as Jesus put it elsewhere [paraphrase] “Seek first God’s rule and God’s okaying of you, and everything else falls into place.” I want God’s seal on me through my relationship with his Son, just like it was on Jesus. So help us God. Amen.