Printable PDF: 7-25-2021 Pentecost 09 Sermon
The Three-fold Benediction Pentecost 09 Sermon July 25, 2021
Numbers 6:22-27 Pastor Myrl Wagenknecht
22The Lord told Moses 23to speak to Aaron and to his sons and to tell them to bless the Israelites with these words: 24The Lord bless you and keep you. 25The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. 26The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace. 27In this way they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
The Aaronic blessing is very familiar to us because we use it after many of our worship services and Bible classes. Through Moses at Mount Sinai, the Lord God told Aaron as high priest that this was the way he was to bless his chosen people, the Israelites. This was the way to put God’s name on these people. The priests were to label Israel God’s People. The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would identify himself in this THREEFOLD BENEDICTION. In this blessing the Father blesses and keeps them; the Son blesses and is gracious to them; the Holy Spirit blesses them and gives them peace.
- The Lord (Father) blesses and keeps us.
God blesses by giving us life. Since the Apostles’ Creed begins “I believe….” Martin Luther properly explains the First Article in the first person. I believe that God made me and all creation and that he gave me my body and soul, my eyes, ears, head, hands, feet, and all the members of this body.
I also believe that God blesses me and preserves me by giving me food and drink, house and hope, property and goods, spouse and children, and all that I need to keep my body and life. He guards and protects me from all harm and danger.
All this God does not because I have earned or deserved it, but he richly and daily cares for me purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy; for all this I ought to thank and praise, serve and obey him.
- The Lord (Son) blesses and is gracious to us.
God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son to save us from our sins. God the Son blesses us with redemption. I believe that the Lord, the second person of the Trinity, the Word made flesh, and Angel of the Lord, the suffering Servant, the Messiah came in human flesh. I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten from all eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer.
I was a lost and condemned creature, so Jesus purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil. He redeemed me not with gold or silver, or platinum or diamonds, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He went to the cross for my eternal salvation.
All this the Lord Jesus did that I should be his own. The Father made me to be his. The Son restored me to be his own. He bought me to live under him in his kingdom, to be a sheep in his flock, to be a member of his Church. Now I am to serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. You may not see this righteousness and innocence in looking at me, but God says I am justified. He declared my sins forgiven. He put his Name on me in baptism and since that baptism, pastors have blessed me with this Aaronic benediction. This everlasting blessedness means that just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally, I too will live with him in heaven eternally.
No wonder Luther ended this explanation with the exclamation, “This is most certainly true!”
- The Lord (Holy Spirit) blesses and gives us peace.
I need the Lord the Holy Spirit because I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ my Lord nor come to him, so the Lord the Holy Spirit working in full harmony with the Father and the Son, has called me by the Gospel. By this means of Grace, either in Word or Sacrament, he has enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. This is what I believe about the Trinity. This is how the Lord blesses me.
But it is not just for me. In the Nicene Creed we say, “We believe…” The Third Article explains that what the Spirit did for me, in the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers. This Church is the workshop of the Holy Spirit. The tools are the Gospel in Word and Sacraments. The product is God’s Chosen people, the new Israel, the real descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The triumphant climax of the work of the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord is on the last day when he will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true!
In addition to the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed we have a third creed: the Athanasian Creed. This gives us a very clear description of the Trinity. God is one God; yet God is three persons. Pick up your hymnal this week and read it on page 132. The Father is Lord. The Son is Lord. The Holy Spirit is Lord. But there are not three Lords but one Lord. The Father is Eternal. The Son is Eternal. The Holy Spirit is Eternal. Yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal.
The true God is Triune, the Great I AM, YAHVEH, Jehovah. This is the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush. This is the God who told Aaron and his sons to bless his people. This is God who as the Father so loved the world he had created and though we rebelled against him, he sent his Son to redeem us and gave us his Spirit so we would believe in him and have everlasting life. This is most certainly true! Amen!
Please stand –
The Lord, God the Father, bless and keep you.
The Lord, God the Son, make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord, God the Holy Spirit, turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Printable PDF: 7-18-2021 Pentecost 08 Sermon
Pastor Clark ~ Mark 6:7-13 ~ July 18, 2021 ~ Pentecost 8
TRUST CHRIST WHEN YOU GO
7Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Dear friends in our Savior Jesus Christ,
The weather has been pretty uncomfortable this past week or so. While I would never want to live anywhere else, we all understand why people like to get away from the desert at this time of year. When you go on vacation, there are certain things you need to take into consideration. Are you flying or driving? Are you staying in a tent, a hotel, with other people? Every trip is a little different.
As Christians we know heaven is our home. That means while we are here, we are “just visiting.” We are strangers and foreigners here. Jesus tells us we have considerations on this “vacation.” The greatest one is simply this: TRUST CHRIST WHEN YOU GO!
- Don’t over pack. (verses 7-10)
We can better understand what that means as we see the instructions Jesus gave his disciples when he was sending them out. 7Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.
The Lord told his disciples what to take when they went to do his work. No food, no suitcase, no change of clothes, no money, and they weren’t supposed to make any reservations at the Palestine Holiday Inn. They could take the sandals and clothes they were wearing and a staff to protect them from wild animals on the trip. That was all. For anything else, they would trust the Lord to provide through the very people they served.
Jesus was sending his disciples out on their vicar year in their first taste of public ministry. While most of us here are not in the public ministry, we are all witnesses of Jesus in this world. It is our most important purpose. We witness to our families, our friends, and even strangers. We never stop being witnesses of Jesus. So what should we be taking with us “on our vacation?”
The first time I took a foreign trip, the people who arranged the trip were good enough to send a packing list. Some of the things were obvious. Some of them were things I never would have thought of. But the instruction I appreciate most was the same instruction Jesus gave his disciples; don’t over pack.
We are prone to do that! I heard a commotion out on Palmaire a couple of years ago. It was a homeless lady moving her worldly belongings. She was pulling a shopping cart with a strap behind pulling some other kind of cart like a caboose. She would move this cart up half a block, then leave it and go back and push another shopping cart until she caught up with the first. She had a lot packed for a homeless person.
So what does that mean for you and me? It’s not quite as clear as it was for the disciples. Is it possible that we are spending so much time accumulating stuff and activities that we have forgotten what we are all about? We can have other baggage, too – anxiety, anger, a lack of priorities? These are things of which we can repent, so we don’t over pack. Our time here on this earth is not about preparing to do God’s work: it’s about carrying it out. Let’s be about our Father’s business. Forgot something? Trust Christ to provide.
- Adjust to local circumstances. (verses 11-13)
The reason he wants us to pack light is that he wants us to focus on the work we are sent here to do. What is it really? 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
The disciples may have seemed ill-prepared and unprotected as they went out. But these simple men had God’s powerful word. The success and failure of their trip was based solely on telling people what they knew about Jesus. In many instances the Lord opened hearts through their message. In others people would reject their message and thus reject Christ. If that happened, they were to shake the dust off their feet.
Shaking the dust off of their feet was a spiritual symbol that this was a place that was marked for destruction. Jesus tells us about this in Matthew 10:15: Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
What they did was purely a matter of trust. They had to trust that Jesus would provide for them. They also had to trust that his word was powerful enough all by itself to change peoples’ hearts.
That is our experience, too. Heaven is our home because Jesus has won it for us. We have that through trust in what he has done. That trust is not just that we will go to heaven. It’s also that when we share God’s word with our children so that they grow up to know Jesus, or when we share the soothing balm of his love with someone injured by loss, or share the light of his Word with people lost in darkness, that it will accomplish what he expects. He has privileged you and me to share it whatever the circumstance. He has also promised to bless us and our hearers.
Dear friends, even if you don’t go on a vacation, you are still going somewhere this summer. Follow the directions he has chosen so that you stay plugged into the power of his word and receive his powerful blessings. There are lots of other ways to go, but none have power. Christ’s path always does. Trust Christ! No other travel agent will do. Amen.
Printable PDF: 7-11-2021 Pentecost 07 Sermon
David R. Clark ~ Mark 6:1-6 ~ July 11, 2021 ~ Pentecost 7
WE SEE JESUS FOR WHO HE REALLY IS
1Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This might seem like a silly question to some of you, but I’ll ask it any way. Who is Jesus really? I ask this question because I’m pretty certain that people who talk about Jesus don’t always know the answer. They often see Jesus for who they want him to be rather than who he really is. Jesus didn’t come to make you a better employee by laying down certain principles for you to do a better job. Jesus is not an ATM machine, come to make you wealthy if you only believe in him enough. Jesus is not a politician or the head of any political party even though both like to claim him at times. So how do we know who Jesus really is?
- As we recognize his authority. (1-3)
The short answer is we don’t have to guess. 1Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus was famous (or infamous). He was the hometown boy made good. You might expect that people would be excited when he came back to Nazareth. These people knew him when he was a child. They knew Mary and Joseph. They knew his siblings. They may have had furniture Jesus helped build as he was growing up. They were sure they knew who Jesus was.
And then he taught in the synagogue. But when he spoke, he didn’t speak like a carpenter’s son. He spoke with authority, in a way that was much different than what they were used to. Their reaction was: “who does he think he is?”
As nice as it is to have the hometown boy come and preach his first sermon, having him be your pastor is completely different. Think how difficult that would be. He has to correct you or when he shows you the Scriptures, say something you struggle with, what then? That would be hard for most people.
But this wasn’t any hometown boy. It’s Jesus.
Do you see Jesus as he is? For some we might say he is someone we grew up with. For others he is a fond memory from Sunday School or Christmas Eve. Others may say they rely on him, but only the way you rely on a plumber when you have a leak. Is that who Jesus is?
He is your Good Shepherd. He is also your judge. He is your loving brother but he is also commander of all the holy angels. He is the one person in this life you cannot do without, one from whose lips comes the only truth in all of creation. Here is that truth. He, and he alone, is your greatest need because you have rebelled against and ignored your God. He, and he alone, is the only one that can save you from that rebellion, that sin and the death sentence that comes with it. He is your Savior who is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. He is the authority over truth and over morality. That is who Jesus is.
- As we respond to him. (4-6)
So what happens when people don’t see him as the authority? 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Being in his hometown wasn’t the best. It was the worst. Because they didn’t see Jesus for who he really was, it was impossible for them to do the right thing. If the weird kid down the block became your doctor but all you could see was the weird kid down the block, it wouldn’t matter what medical advice you got from him. You probably won’t listen to it even if it’s absolutely correct.
That was the people of Nazareth. That’s the way they looked at Jesus. It wasn’t because they were confused or had a difference of opinion. Their real problem was they didn’t see Jesus for who he really was. We also call that a lack of faith. Jesus was never going to be their Savior as far as they were concerned. They were so familiar with Jesus that they couldn’t see him for who he was. So Jesus went where people listened.
There is an old saying: familiarity breeds contempt. We are all susceptible to this temptation of Satan. We can be so familiar with Jesus that we can stop listening with our ears. When we stop listening with our ears, we stop listening with our hearts. When we stop listening with our hearts, we stop responding. That’s what happens when people refuse to love Jesus and live for Jesus. It isn’t a perception problem. It’s a heart problem.
Brothers and sisters, let us repent of our clogged up spiritual ears. Clogged up ears lead to clogged up hearts which leads to clogged up lives. Let us repent of being so familiar with Jesus that we stop listening to him and putting into action what he says. Let us once more find in Jesus the words of eternal life as people thirsting for truth in a desert of lies. Jesus is our greatest need. Jesus is our Savior. We live for him as he lives in us. Amen.
Printable PDF: 7-4-2021 Pentecost 6 Sermon
Pastor Mark R Jacobson Pentecost 6 (July 4, 2021) Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
THE SWEET SOUNDS OF FREEDOM IN CHRIST
The sweet sounds of July 4th, can you already hear them in your head? The bursting of fireworks in air? The crackling of firecrackers on the ground, the piercing sound of bottle rockets? Maybe you can even hear the fizzling of sparklers. Patriotic music is on all the radio stations today and if you do some channel surfing you will certainly find a patriotic documentary with great historical quotes and dramatic reenactments of events. All of these sounds: the fireworks, the music, the documentaries are sweet sounds of freedom we enjoy as Americans. The Gospel appointed for today, the 6th Sunday of Pentecost, also has some sweet sounds, sounds that clearly convey the freedom we as Christians have in Christ.
“Don’t be afraid, just believe.”
In the Gospel a prominent man named Jairus wasn’t feeling very free. His 12-year old daughter was more than sick. She was dying and there was only one thing Jairus could do about it. Jairus could look for Jesus. And what a happy coincidence! Jarius found Jesus. You can see the desperation of Jairus in his falling at Jesus’ feet and you can hear the desperation in his pleading voice, but don’t let all his desperation distract you from his confidence. Jairus has faith. There is no indication that this healing is a hunch, that it might work. Jairus assumes it will work. Come and do “A” so “B” is the result. “Put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” “So,” as the gospel writer tells us in an unremarkable way in verse 24, “Jesus went with him.”
Time is of the essence here. If there had been an ambulance, Jairus would have been yelling to step on it. But the crowd was like our Phoenix traffic and in that traffic was a woman who did not pull over to the side of the road. This woman is what the gap in our Bible verses is all about. We don’t know her name, but we do know her desperate need. She had been hemorrhaging blood for as long as this little girl had been alive, a chronic illness. And this woman doesn’t want to stop Jesus or even talk to Jesus. Like Jairus this woman has faith too. She believes if she only touches Jesus her chronic illness will get better and she is absolutely right. She touches Jesus and she gets better immediately. She doesn’t think Jesus would notice, but Jesus notices and Jesus holds up traffic to talk with her.
We don’t know how long they talked, but we do know in verse 35, “While Jesus was still speaking (to this woman), “some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’” Talk about a punch in the gut followed up with an upper cut to the chin.” Daughter’s dead. Ouch! Don’t bother Jesus. Double ouch!
Have you suffered those kind of punches? Catastrophic news about your family and tempting thoughts that God can’t help you, that you are bothering him? Grief counselors talk about 5 stages of grief. Denial: This can’t be happening to me. Bargaining: If I do this, God will do that. Then there is anger and despair. Our sinful nature wants to blame someone. We might blame ourselves for not do something different. We might blame others for not helping our situation. We might blame Jesus for letting a bad thing happen to us. Our sinful nature causes us at times to feel hopeless. If you know something about feeling angry and hopeless, listen to this: “Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
We hear “Don’t be afraid” a lot in the Bible. We heard it last Sunday and we hear it this Sunday. We hear those words, “Don’t be afraid,” spoken by angels every Christmas and Easter. And every time we hear those words, “Don’t be afraid,” in the Bible it’s because the only rational response that makes sense is to be afraid. Jairus is afraid he will never see his daughter again and based on what Jairus has just heard from some people, that fear is rational and makes sense, but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, just believe,” and that is what Jairus does. By following Jesus even when all the evidence suggests not to bother with Jesus anymore Jairus learns and understands what it means to have faith in God.
Faith is always a miracle (an act of God), but faith as a miracle of God is all-the-more evident when all the worldly evidence would point against having faith. No one on earth lives in continual peace. Nothing grants us immunity from occasional heartache and feelings of hopelessness. Where is your help at those times? What will keep you from giving up hope in seemingly hopeless situations? What will keep you from getting angry at God or others or even yourself? At times, the only thing that will keep you following Jesus are those sweet sounds of freedom, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”
“The child is not dead but asleep.”
For Jarius those words hint at a possible resurrection, but the crowd is not thinking resurrection. The crowd disappears. When Jesus enter the home of Jairus and said, “The child is not dead but asleep,” the professional mourners broke out in laughter. Jesus wasn’t joking and Jesus wasn’t trying to soften the blow to Jairus with empty words. Sleeping better describes what happens when the body, like a tent is packed away after camping, just waiting for the next trip. When believers in Jesus die, the holy angels carry the souls of God’s children to heaven and place them in the tender arms of the Savior. They are safe and surrounded in glory, they live and reign to all eternity. At the same time their bodies, but only their bodies, “rest in the earth, eagerly awaiting the words of Jesus when he returns on the Last Day. We look at life as a steady progression and that is why the people laughed and still laugh. Jesus looks at life based on how life turns out in eternity. That is why Jesus says asleep.
Jesus talks to the dead girl as if she is alive and the gospel writer wants his Greek readers to hear the original sweet sounds as they were spoken by Jesus in Aramaic, “Talitha koum!” Later Jesus will wake up his dead friend Lazarus in the Greek language, “Lazare, doiro echo.” No matter the language, the most beautiful sound will be the wake-up call Jesus gives us and all believers on the Last Day.
Our section closes with some housekeeping matters. “Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and he told them to give her something to eat.” Apparently, death can make you hungry. The little girl was not limited to a liquid diet. She needed lunch and Jesus made sure she got that too. Jesus takes care of all needs, great and small. No matter is too big for Jesus and no matter is too small for Jesus either. Another matter had to do with the cover-up. Jesus did not want the word to get out about this miracle. Strict orders. Jesus would rather have had the news be that the little girl was sleeping, but now she was awake and feeling better. Jesus didn’t want this good news to get in the way of THE good news.
The good news is Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News is God made Jesus who had no sin, to be sin for us so that through faith in Jesus we might have no sin, only the righteousness of God. The Good News is that though Jesus was rich with heavenly glory, yet for our sakes Jesus became poor with the debt of our sins so that we through his poverty experienced on the cross might become rich with heavenly glory with him. The good news is spiritually we were once like Jairus. Our sin should have us face down on the floor, pleading for mercy. Imagine that! Also, imagine this reality. Our God has been merciful to us and has forgiven all our sins through faith in Jesus. What a sweet sound!
There will be many sweet sounds of freedom in the air today. Enjoy them! Enjoy all of them. At the same time, also enjoy the sweet sounds of freedom we have as Christians. God has forgiven all of your sin. As certainly as Jesus lives so also will you live. Don’t be afraid, just believe. Amen.
Printable PDF: 6-27-2021 Pentecost 05 Sermon
Pastor David R. Clark ~ Mark 4:35-41 ~ June 27, 2021 ~ Pentecost 5
ESSENTIAL ANSWERS WHEN WE FEAR
35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Dear brothers and sisters one in faith,
You get up at the usual time and do your usual morning routine. It’s a little rushed, but not too bad. There’s gas in the car, homework is done, and no lunches are left in the refrigerator. The traffic is heavy, but not bad. You drop the kids off at school. Then you hear a 12-story building in Miami collapses for no apparent reason. Or a disturbed man is driving down Loop 101 shooting people. Or your phone rings with the results of medical tests and the doctor says, “You need to come and see me.”
How many times haven’t we looked back and said something like this… “The day started out normally enough…”
Every single person on earth suffers this way. And because we cannot control when or what happens, it often leads to fear. Have you ever felt yourself drowning in fear?
- Don’t you care if we drown? (verses 35-38)
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
The Sea of Galilee would be considered a lake for most of us in the U.S. It is considerably smaller than our many freshwater lakes and much, much smaller than the Great Lakes. But it is the largest repository of fresh water in all of Palestine. There is a high ridge on the east side (Golan Heights). So when weather changes it is possible for the Sea of Galilee to become dangerous very, very quickly.
That’s what happened to the disciples. The storm was so bad that the boat was filling with water. The disciples, some of whom were experienced fishermen, started to fear. They had seen storms like this, and they knew they usually didn’t end very well.
They did have Jesus there. They had seen him do miracles. They knew he had the power to change things, but he just slept. How do you sleep when your boat is taking on water? Finally, they didn’t think they were going to make it, so they woke him up. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
There is a little (or not so little) control freak inside each of us. We have to be able to pull all the strings, know all the answers, count the cost. As a matter of good stewardship, God does expect us to use all of the resources he has placed at our disposal. Friends and family, medical personnel, our government, and our church are all there to help and be a resource in their own unique way. Making good use of them is a responsibility God expects us to carry out when it comes to living our lives and solving our problems.
But there are times when that isn’t enough. There are times when the doctors can’t seem to heal, or the pastor can’t help the marriage we have been taking for granted for years. Then what? What do you do when you find yourself drowning in fear? Do you find yourself wondering where God is? In those moments when it is obvious that we are not in control, when we cannot affect the outcome, what about them? We have Jesus, too, but do you say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
- Do you still have no faith?
Here is how much Jesus cares: (39-41) He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Jesus takes out the remote control for all of creation and presses the pause button. Suddenly everything is calm. The crisis the disciples were sure was going to end in tragedy is over. Just like that! No more wind. No more waves.
Jesus follows up this simple act (for him) by seizing upon this as a teaching moment. He sounds a little dismayed to me. The thing that had made him so tired is that he had just spent the day teaching. If you look at the section in Mark 4 before this you will see there are four parables Jesus had taught about faith and the power of God’s word. So, maybe it’s not a surprise that he says, “Do you still have no faith?”
Brothers and sisters, “Even the wind and waves obey him.” He is the Creator of all. He has power over all. Creation is not the limit of his power, only a sample of it. In other words, his power is much greater than that.
The opposite of fear, as Jesus points out, is faith. Faith means faith in his power, faith in possibilities. It means that God could have turned the planes back from the twin towers and could make you wealthy beyond imagination in the blink of an eye or cure your terminal disease. Faith also means faith in his wisdom. Sometimes that means he will allow tragedy to come into our lives. We won’t always know why. Children never like it and rarely understand when we tell them they are not allowed to do something that we know is not in their best interest.
That’s where faith comes in. Faith is knowing that even though we don’t understand, he does. Faith means bowing to God’s reasons and God’s time line. They are always better. We put our faith in the power of prayer. We put our faith in the power of his Word. We do this because we also put our faith in his love, the love he has shown us in all creation, in his Son, and our redemption. Even when we have cause to fear, we trust in God’s power.
Being a Christian means being people of faith. It is faith in what Jesus has done and what Jesus will continue to do for us. Do not be afraid. Do not be uncertain. Believe in what he says. In the midst of our greatest fears, our faith is in Jesus. Amen.