Saturday, June 20, 2015

Proper 7

Proper 7
Mark 4:35-41
21 June 2015

Almighty God, in Your mercy guide the course of this world so that Your Church may joyfully serve You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord...

Jesus is Lord. This is what faith communicates.  It speaks. It confesses reality. And your reality, is this, Jesus is Lord! It is true. And it is certain.

In rapid succession, with one story, stacked, one after another, Mark will tell us clearly, “Jesus is Lord!” Jesus is Lord over nature. Over demons. Over death.   Jesus is Lord. He stills the wind and calms the stormy sea. Jesus is Lord. The demon-possessed man, the one who had had legion, is sitting there, clothed and in his right mind. (Mark 5:15) Jesus is Lord. Jairus’ daughter is raised to life.

The disciples feared a great fear. “Who is this? That even the wind and the sea obey him?”  

It has been quite a week, hasn’t it! With all this rain. And thunder! Make it stop! This is too much! Still, it comes! It’s easy to say, “Jesus is Lord!” when all is bright and sunny. But when storms come, as they do, it’s difficult and hard to prove. We falter when we lose focus and doubt.

Our flesh is always warring against our spirit. That’s where fighting and fears come from.  And this lordship of Jesus is often veiled. Does the Father still love me in the midst of these storms and problems? Can Jesus help me when I’m up against so many great odds? Why is God silent? Why won’t He listen?  This veil is uncovered in today’s Gospel.  With the world of nature howling against the disciples, Jesus discloses His lordship.   

“When evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side’. And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as He was.” (Vv.35-36) They took Jesus along with them just as He was. This is a clear reference to Jesus’ human nature. Jesus had told the disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, which was about to crush Him.[1] He had been so busy teaching and preaching. The crowd was so huge that He didn’t even have time to eat.[2] He was exhausted and spent. No wonder He slept in the back of the boat!

These disciples. They were experienced fishermen. They knew these waters. There were times to fish. There were times to travel. And you did not go across to the other side when evening had come. That’s when the storms come. At night!  Nevertheless, they went. At Jesus’ command. 

A furious squall...a bad storm...happened. The boat suffers simply because it's there. They suffer because they were there. Sometimes bad things happen because they happen.
We cannot escape hard times. We are living outside of Eden. This is a fallen world. We are not perfect.

And hard times happen. Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan…until you get punched in the face!” Sometimes we get punched! It is not pleasant. It is not joyful. It is not easy. It’s hard. And difficult!                               

And these disciples. They understood their culture of their time. The waves implied turmoil. And the Sea indicated death. How’s that for trusting Jesus! And His word. Had He sent them off to die? Was this a test? Or a punishment?

We are being destroyed…NOW! They cry! And Jesus? Where is He? He’s on a cushion. Literally, He's asleep at the wheel.

Notice, the language. We're perishing! They cry out. And Jesus is included with them.  But as they cry out to Him, they say, “it matters to you doesn’t it?”  They ask, expecting a positive answer. They know they are in trouble. They seek Jesus, expecting His help.  

Though seemingly asleep, Jesus can be wakened.  This has always been the expectation of faith. We expect Jesus to intervene. We expect Jesus to act. We expect Jesus to hear us. David cried out in Psalm 89:8-9 “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.”  

And in Psalm 107, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet. And be brought them to their desired haven.” (Vv. 28-30)

Jesus intervenes.  He rescues by rebuking faithlessness and revealing Himself as the Master of the elements, to stifle storms and still the seas. Jesus literally says, “Shut up! Be muzzled!”  Of course! This is rude language. But it's the enemy! Even the grave and the jaws of death are shut up for you. He speaks with authority. He doesn't grab a bucket.  He goes to the source of the problem. And He delivers them.

Jesus unveils His power daily.  Especially, in the midst of peril. When everything seems lost.  He is always in control.  The early Christians remembered this account in their persecutions. When you encounter peril or danger may we simply pray, Jesus, Savior, pilot me! Jesus does not explain each wave. Yet He weeps with those who weep. He mourns with those who mourn. He comforts, strengthens and He heals.

Faith prays. Because it knows nothing else. Like the infant. To her mother. She knows nothing other than to trust.  Jesus always responds with His word of peace. He releases His grace in daily forgiveness. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

Jesus concludes with a question. Why are you cowards? And there is no answer, other than to respond, “Lord I believe…help me in my unbelief.”(Mark 9:24) Lord I trust…help me when it is shaken. Lord I cling to You…never let go!

Mark reminds us, “They feared a great fear...who is this?”  Fear? Yes, fear.  As in the First Commandment, “we should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”  

In this life, we will encounter storms. They cannot be avoided. They are part and parcel of our life. And yet, there is no better place to be,-then next to Jesus, asleep in His sleep over sin, over death, over the Devil.

Jesus, who didst ever guide me
Jesus, my strong helper be.
Jesus, save, whate’er betide me,
Jesus, make me trust in Thee.
Jesus let Thy grace attend me,
Jesus, still from sin defend me.[3]

Words –1,150
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –86.9
Reading Level -2.8

[1] Mark 3:9
[2] Mark 3:20
[3] Jesus richte mein Beginnen – Jesus Shepherd My Beginning (J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Part IV)
   A little bit of Christmas - because it is the first day of summer! 

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