To be perfectly honest my sermons don't usually contain a lot of illustrations. This is due to my inability to think of appropriate illustrations rather than for any theological or homiletical reason. And when I do think up illustrations, they often aren't that good.Except on Sunday. On Sunday I did alright. In fact, I was so happy with it I'm going to use it again this Sunday.
Sunday last we were looking at Jesus walking on water in Mark 6. In the text the disciples look at the information provided to them - Jesus walking on water in the middle of the lake in the middle of a gale in the middle of the night - and they make an assessment of who he is - he's a ghost (6:49). Mark however writes his account in such a way as to provide us with more information - he walks on water (cf Job 9:8-11) he goes to pass the disciples by (cf Ex 33:21); he declares his name (cf Ex 3:14) - and we should make an assessment of who he is. But we can only make that assessment if we understand the information - if we see what is happening in front of us.
And here's the illustration. Chuck is a programme on here in NZ on Wednesday evenings. Chuck is an unwilling secret agent - he's had the Intersect - a top secret database containing details of all major threats to the government - accidentally uploaded into his brain. What that means is that when he sees a person, a building, hears a voice or views a code which is in the Intersect he 'flashes' - all the information about the item he's seen comes flooding into his head. It allows him to understand what is in front of him.
In exactly the same way when we read Mark 6 (and indeed all of the New Testament) we should 'flash' - the information stored in our heads about the Old Testament about the types and promises of Christ, about God's overarching plan of salvation, should come flooding into our heads, that we might understand what is happening in front of of us. And yet of course the problem for many Christians is that we don't know our Old Testaments. We don't read it. We don't preach on it. We find it difficult to understand and apply and so we just abandon it. And so it isn't in our heads. We have no information upon which to 'flash'. And of course that means that when we read the New Testament - when we're confronted with the person of Jesus and God's action in and through him - it is impossible to really understand what is happening. And the danger is that we make the same mistake the disciples did - we identify, and therefore respond to, Jesus wrongly.
And in case you're wondering, I'm going to use the Chuck illustration again this week because we're starting a four week series on why and how we should read the Old Testament. Nothing like putting your money where your mouth is.