I Am Is with Us
Wednesday of Pentecost 10
1 August 2018
God gave a momentary glimpse of Himself in the Old Testament when Moses begged to see God. Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And [God] said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (We see God in His acts for us!) But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen" (Ex 33:17-23). Here God is passing by to grant Moses a glimpse of his back. This passing by faded from the people's memory as the glory of Moses faded from his face (2Co 3:7-11). Now in the New Testament when our Lord Jesus wishes to pass by his disciples (Mk 6:48), he is not wishing to bypass his disciples. He's not giving them merely a fleeting glimpse of his back, but approaches their boat and comes among them face-to-face. He dwells with them and becomes fully the God who is with us. Here there are no more half measures, no more sought for appearances, no more long-awaited arrivals. They are afraid, but with him there is nothing to fear. He is here now as God had long promised.

Since our God is a mighty fortress (Ps 46:1), we rest securely in Him. He follows the tempest with the still small voice just as he did for Elijah (1Ki 19:12), bringing comfort to our troubled hearts. The word of the gospel speaks peace to silence the maelstrom. Jesus tells us, "Don't be afraid. It is I" (Mk 6:50). If He is our only rescue, then we shall see Him clearly and take courage from Him. No hurricane and no lake can separate us from Him. The waters cannot hold him. He masters the sea and everything in it. It's no wonder he says, "Don't be afraid!"

None of this is left in any kind of obscurity. Our English translations of these words of our Lord handicap us. We don't hear rightly what He is saying and what His actions are telling us. Yes, Jesus is the Lord of Lords. He is the Creator of Genesis 1, without whom was not any thing made that was made. When He approaches the boat, what He is saying comforts his frightened disciples. He says quite literally, "I Am," not merely, "it is I." He is delivering the divine name to His disciples in the boat. He is saying that He is the Yahweh of the Old Testament, now sitting quietly in their boat, dwelling among them to rescue them.

Jesus is hiding his divinity in plain sight, revealing what had been hidden in the Old Testament. The disciples, like us, are seeing directly what the prophets and patriarchs only hoped to see, only hoped to glimpse. No, he is not leaving us. He's with us always. Jesus does not pass us by to bypass us, but to be God-with-us. He does not bypass us in the boat of the church but passes us by that we might see Him and in seeing Him see God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"'Place by Me' and all that is said about the cleft of a rock and of covering Moses with His hand until He should pass by (Ex 33:21-23) I understand to mean that God for the sake of the future Rock, Christ, protected and preserved the people of the Law, or Israel, in His patience because they could not keep the Law. That is the tenor of St. Paul's words in Rm 3:25, which say that the sin which remained under the Law is in divine forbearance forgiven in this time, when Christ has appeared and 'passed by,' etc. But since this 'passing by,' God has withdrawn the hand of such forbearance and the protection of the rock. For the law is done for and fulfilled, and we no longer require the forbearance and the protection of a future Christ. Yes, he who believes that Christ is still to come and who wishes to stand with Moses in the cleft of the rock under God's protecting hand is damned. The rock and the hand are removed, we now have the Lord and His 'passing by,' up to whose time the protection and the forbearance of God were to endure. Now we look after His passing and see what He has done for us, that is, we see His back, we see what He left behind for us, namely, that He, God and man, died and rose for us. Thus, Christ's humanity might be termed His back. In this we recognize Him in this life until we arrive at the place where we shall also behold His face and His glory.'"

Martin Luther, Treatise to the Last Words of David
Exodus 33:12-23

''Moses said to the LORD, "See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' ''Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." ''And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." ''And he said to him, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. ''For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"

''And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." ''Moses said, "Please show me your glory." ''And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. ''But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." ''And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, ''and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. ''Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, in Your passing us by You have revealed Yourself to us and shown us Your glory. Continue to come to us in our churches brought to us on the waters of baptism. Send us Your Holy Spirit to keep us from being offended by the humility of Your self-revelation. Be present with us in the boat of the church as You were with the disciples in the boat upon the sea. Amen.

For husbands and wives in holy marriage, that they may be kept faithful to their vows for the sake of children, community, and church

For all pregnant mothers and their unborn children, that the Lord of the church and the Lover of all children would grant them health and strength

For all those who travel on days of vacation, that they would be kept safe and that their homecomings would be joyful
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact