I don't know whether you've noticed it
or not, but throughout this year we have been traveling with
Jesus on his life's journey using in large part the Gospel of
Mark as our road map.
Well at the beginning of this
particular gospel, Jesus invites a group of ordinary people to
travel with him. He called 12 by name and they joined him on
the journey of their lives; to be a disciple, to be on a
journey with Jesus, walking with him, and learning from him.
And in this morning's gospel reading,
this journey of a lifetime all of a sudden takes a terrifying
turn. It's "evening" (4:35), Jesus is crossing over to the
other side of the Sea of Galilee, and he invites his disciples
to go with him, "leaving the crowd behind" (4:36).
Before too long a storm comes rolling
in, which was not an uncommon experience given that the Sea of
Galilee is 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills.
The storm came up and became fierce; as waves beat against the
boat they were all in, yet Jesus is fast asleep (4:38)!
The disciples cry out to Jesus, "Do
you care if we are perishing?" When you think about it, this
question is a pretty profound question, shouted out in the
middle of the storm. Does Jesus care if we perish? His
peaceful state, in the middle of a ragging storm is
impressive, but does Jesus' calm extend to the fate of his
disciples as well, or is this state of calm only for him?
It seems to me that this story is told
in response to this basic question of faith: does Jesus care?
Does Jesus really give a hoot about any of his disciples? Does
Jesus really care about us, especially when things are rough?
Upon hearing the cry for help, Jesus arises and rebukes the
wind and the waves (4:39). Then Jesus rebukes his disciples,
"Had they no faith?" Well the beginning of the story is an
answer to that question. They have faith, but when the waves
start crashing over their boat, and the wind whips up with a
frenzy, they ask the fundamental question: "Master do you care
if we perish?" The whole story ends with the disciples'
question: "Who is this? Who is this Jesus? The story is
certainly meant as a response to that question by the
disciples, and the church. "Who is this man Jesus?"
This story is full of strong metaphors
and vivid imagery. It's a story that speaks its own truth. And
it's a story that each of us can relate to very easily.
Through our study of Christian
discipleship we've come to understand, and experience all to
well, that journeying with Jesus as his disciples, does not
insulate us from difficulties and storms in life. Jesus never
promised his disciples smooth sailing! Jesus never promised us
a life full of angelic singing and rose gardens. Yet, in his
great mercy, he does care for us deeply.
Jesus is not only merciful, but also
powerful in his rebuke of the wind and the waves. He's also
merciful and full of grace in his active compassion for us in
our troubles. He's Lord, even in the middle of those storms,
which come blowing our way; tossing and turning us sometimes
to the point we don't know what to do next.
Yes, Jesus is there as the master
helmsman steering us back on course, providing the wind for
our sails so we might emerge from the storm stronger in our
Let's take a closer look at some key
points highlighted in our gospel reading to see how this story
might more specifically relate to us.
Jesus invites the disciples into the
boat. The whole journey into the storm, out onto the sea in
the dark, was Jesus' idea, not the disciples. Jesus called the
disciples, the disciples didn't call Jesus. What do you make
of this? Is Jesus testing the faith of his disciples?
One things for sure, discipleship is
not always a state of peaceful calm. But the truth is some of
our greatest adventures with Jesus will be in the storms of
life, in the dead of night, when it's dark, and we're lost,
not knowing where to turn or what to do next. I found this to
be true in my own life. Some of my darkest moments have
yielded the brightest light.
The past several weeks we've
experienced rain and stormy skies, and this has been somewhat
frustrating. But we manage to work our way through this time
knowing that eventually the sun (S.U.N.) will shine again.
Well the same is true of the medical,
emotional, and spiritual storms we encounter. We work our way
through these storms with Jesus by our side knowing that
eventually the Son (S.O.N.) will once again shine bright.
Jesus is in the boat with his
disciples. Jesus journeys with his disciples, they don't have
to "go it alone." However, don't lose the point that even
though Jesus is with them there is still no guarantee they
will always experience smooth sailing!
And I think we can all relate to this.
Life isn't always easy, we do encounter bumps, and sometimes
boulders along our life's journey don't we? But even in these
cases one thing is constant and that is Jesus love for us, and
his desire to sail with us during the storms we encounter.
There is a storm, a "great storm"
which comes up all of a sudden. Sailing with Jesus doesn't
mean exemption from real bad storms either. And in some cases
we don't even see the storms until they're on top of us. We
have no warning. In fact, Jesus sometimes (at least the story
implies) is the one who invites us into, even leads us toward
Why is this? It's because it's often
times in the midst of the storms that we finally get it. We
finally realize we can't do it all ourselves, we finally
realize it's not about us, we finally understand we need help,
we need a savior, we need Jesus Christ to lead us through the
eye of the storm to experience calm and serenity once again.
Jesus is un-phased by the same storm
that so terrifies his disciples. Jesus is the serene, the
majestic Lord of the storm. He's not worried. He's in control.
God in Jesus Christ is in control. Not
humanity, not Satan, but God. And thanks be to God for that.
Can you image what a mess we would
have if humanity or Satan had ultimate control. You talk about
chaos. This world would probably no longer exist.
The disciples awake Jesus and dare to
ask a threatening question, upon which hangs much of our faith
in Jesus: do you care if we perish? Let's take this as the
central question of our scripture reading: does Jesus care if
we perish? And not only is this the central question, it's an
Well the answer is: Jesus does care.
He cares a lot. Jesus arises and calms the raging storm. Jesus
not only cares, he also acts. Jesus is the one who, when it's
dark and all hope seems lost, rises, speaks, rebukes the wind
and the waves, and saves those who, without his care and
action, would be lost. Yes Jesus cares, he cares a great deal.
Jesus wonders why his disciples are
afraid and have no faith in him. Jesus has been with them for
a long time now. Yet the disciples still don't seem to get it.
And as you read the Gospel of Mark this sort of
misunderstanding and lack of faith is rather typical for
Yet, despite their misunderstanding,
their lack of faith, Jesus doesn't desert them, and Jesus
doesn't desert those who have dared to travel with him. He
keeps sailing with them.
Jesus doesn't seem to resent the
misunderstanding of his closest followers. He's not too choosy
about his travel companions! He keeps saving them, even while
they fear that they might perish. And thank God for this
truth! And lastly the story ends in wonder and awe, in
worship, in which his disciples are moved to ask, "Who is
this?" The answer to this question is not explicitly given.
The story doesn't answer with, "This is the Messiah," or "Here
before you is the Son of God."
Perhaps the answer is not given
because it's an answer that can only be given as a gift, a
byproduct of our time of wonder and awe which we call worship.
The answer to our deepest question about Jesus ("Who is
this?") is a gift of that vision and experience we receive in
the middle of the storm.
Being a disciple of Jesus is not
always easy. It requires commitment, contentment, faith,
trust, and surrender. All of which are hard work. And lets not
kid ourselves, it really is hard work.
Also, being a disciple of Jesus
doesn't mean we won't run into temptation and sin because we
will. Even Jesus ran into temptation. Praying that temptation
and sin go away won't work. Sin and temptation are a part of
this world. But we can pray that we overcome the sin and
temptation that is before us. Christians are over-comers; we
overcome obstacles by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The storm mentioned in our gospel is a
weather-related storm, but storms can come in other forms as
well. Think about the storms in your life, the situations that
cause you great anxiety. Know that whatever your difficulty,
you have two options really: You can worry and assume that
Jesus no longer cares, or you can resist fear, placing your
trust in Jesus.
Throughout our lives we will encounter
many different kinds of storms. And when confronted with these
storms often times running for the phone to get help won't
work. Running to the needle, the pill, the bottle, the pantry,
and the government won't work either.
Recently there has been a lot of talk
about a road map to peace. Well know that there is only one
road map to peace, and that's the road map proclaimed by the
one who said I am the way, the truth, and the life.
We don't need homeland security to
protect us, we need Jesus security, we need to go to the
throne for help. It's there we'll find true peace. It's there
we'll find the power for calming our storms.
When you feel like panicking, confess
your need for God and then place your whole trust in him to
take care of you, knowing that God will help in his way and in
But asking for and receiving God's
help in the midst of life's storms require us to do something.
It requires us to be active in our faith. Faith requires
action, living as disciples requires action, living God's
truth requires action.
You know it does you no good to come
to church, sit, and listen to God's word being read and God's
word being proclaimed. It's an easy thing to do though, isn't
it? But in reality by just coming to church and listening
you've done nothing.
Now I don't mean to sound arrogant,
but in preparing today's sermon, I did the homework, I
studied, and I prayed that the Holy Spirit would lead me in my
preparation. So my point is if you come this morning and
listen, and then don't leave and apply what you've heard, then
you've wasted your time.
God doesn't have some gold leaf
heavenly attendance sheet that he checks off just because we
come to church. We don't read the Bible for God; God already
knows what the Bible says. We read the Bible and listen to
sermons so we will learn what God wants us to do.
God wants us to read the Bible,
worship, and then go apply it.
We are to live out God's word, and
place our whole trust in him. And I can think of no more
important time to live out God's word then in the storms of
our life, when it seems the world around us is falling apart.
God's word reminds us that there is a light in the midst of
the storm, and that lights name is Jesus Christ
You know, life is such a gift, even
with the storms, but we sometimes seem to just fetter it away.
Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best
day of my life! There were times when I wondered if I would
make it to today; but I did! And because I did I'm going to
Today, I'm going to celebrate what an
unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the
many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have
served to make me a stronger disciple.
I'll go through the rest of this day
with my head held high, and a happy heart. I'll marvel at
God's seemingly simple gifts: the morning rain, the green
grass, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, and the birds.
Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my
notice. Today, I'll share my excitement for life with other
people. I'll make someone smile. I'll go out of my way to
perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don't even
know, out of Christian love not religious obligation.
Today, I'll give a sincere compliment
to someone who seems down. I'll tell a child how special he or
she is, and I'll tell someone just how deeply I care for them.
Today is the day I quit worrying about
what I don't have, and start being grateful for all the
wonderful things God has already given me, even in the midst
of storms. I'll remember that to worry is just a waste of time
because my faith in God and his Divine Purpose ensures
everything will be just fine.
And tonight, before I go to bed, I'll
go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I'll stand in awe
at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God
for these magnificent treasures. As the day ends and I lay my
head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best
day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented
child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is
going to be the best day of my life, ever!
This can be the best day of your life
too. There's no need to worry; there's no need to be concerned
because Jesus Christ is the road map to peace, and Lord over
Thanks be to God that through Jesus
Christ we have a friend to help us through the storms of life!
Read other messages by Pastor Wade