What Is Possible? 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.
Do you remember the great old musical, "Call Me Madam"? I don't remember it well, but every so often, I find myself singing,
They like Ike, and Ike is good on a mike They like Ike - but Ike says he don't wanna
That makes Ike the kind o' feller they like And what's more they seem to think he's gonna.
As I read the passage from John's Gospel this week, I bumped into the sentence above, about Jesus withdrawing from the crowd when he realized that they wanted to "take him by force and make him king". I couldn't remember ever noticing that sentence before. Apparently, like Ike, he wasn't interested in the job. I wonder what Jesus thinks these days when, during Advent performances of the Messiah, we hear, "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." "Oh, good grief," he must mutter. "They went and made me King anyway."
Whether or not the image of Jesus as a king works for us, it is certain that Jesus offered - and still offers - a vision of a new way of being, living, and seeing the world. The crowds that gathered before him, and even chased him up mountains, were hungry. Yes, they were hungry for food, but theirs was a deeper hunger than that. No Earthly king has ever equaled his touch - his miracles.
The passage from John's Gospel is in the midst of John's telling of the story of feeding the five thousand - the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, as we best know it. This story is told in varied forms in all the Gospels. In John's telling the story sets the stage for a long discourse about The Bread of Life."
We tend to see this story as a sweet little moral lesson; for the traditionally faithful, it is one of many great miracles performed by Jesus. The rational among us explain it away by saying that Jesus merely set an example of generosity, and everyone followed suit by opening their own previously hidden picnic baskets. The skeptics dismiss the story as more hokum.
But maybe fixating on how the miracle happened isn't really the point. Maybe it's an offer from God to imagine what is truly possible in God's Kin-dom, the only place over which Jesus would wish to serve as anything like a king. Leave the "G" off "king" and the picture of God's family begins to come clearer.
On my way home from recycling today, I pulled up behind a van at the stop light. There were two bumper stickers on the back of the car. The first said, proudly, "My son is in the U. S. Navy." The second sticker said, "War is not Christ's way."
What is possible? What IS possible? Those two bumper stickers must give pause both to the son, and to the family itself. In a way, their presence on the same vehicle asks us one of the hardest questions we can ask ourselves. Do we want to live in God's Kin-dom, or will we settle for the way things are. I think it took incredible courage for whoever placed those bumper stickers in full view of each other to do so.
What is possible? Believe it or not, this question is a big part of what a shared life of faith asks. We are invited to imagine together something truly wondrous - the Kin-dom of God. Then we wrestle together with our doubts an uncertainties and, honestly, our resignation to the way things are, about how impossible it seems to make this Kin-dom a reality.
What is possible? I know one thing, for starters. It's possible that you might join in worship Sunday at 10 AM at the Church on the Common. If you do so, anything is possible. This is not a plea; it's the warmest invitation you can imagine. That's how God does stuff.
Sabbath blessings- AFP