How many of you have experienced some really bad turbulence when you were flying? I will never forget a flight I was on a few summers ago. I was flying from San Antonio back to Kansas City after spending a week at Trinity University in San Antonio reading Advanced Placement American History essays for the College Board and Educational Testing Service. Slightly after we had passed over Fort Worth we unexpectedly hit some of the worst turbulence I have every experienced. Even the pilot was caught off-guard, as he had just given the O.K. to serve a meal. Suddenly the plane went every which way, dropping so suddenly that dishes flew everywhere and one of the flight attendants was thrown upward, hitting her head on the ceiling of the plane and sustaining a serious injury. It was a totally frightening experience!
If we have experienced such an episode in our lives, it may help us identify with the 12 disciples of Jesus in a boat on the sea of Galilee when a violent storm, common to that sea, erupted around them.
We read the story in Mark 4:35-41:
When evening had come, Jesus said to them, “let us go to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was….
- Note: To be a disciple of Jesus was to be always on a journey, it seemed.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cusions…
- Note: Jesus is in the boat with the disciples. He journeys with them. They don’t have to “go it alone.” Although we must also note that Jesus’ presence doesn’t always guarantee smooth sailing—–as it does not guarantee smooth sailing for us today at all times. There is a terrible storm and the disciples fear for their lives. Jesus, however, is unperturbed by the storm and sleeps through it until he is awakened by his fearful disciples.
- And note that the journey can become perilous when we are with Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus is not always a calm and peaceful affair—-for his original twelve or for his disciples today. Some of our greatest adventures with Jesus may be in storms, in the dead of the night, when it is dark, and we’re feeling lost….
And they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
- This is the central question of this text: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? And , of course, the answer is Jesus does care!
Jesus shows his care by his actions….”He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
- Jesus does not just SAY he cares—he ACTS to show that he cares. He calms the storm, rebukes the wind and waves, and saves those who without his care might be lost.
- Jesus also wonders why the disciples are afraid and did not have faith, after all this time with him. “What’s with your phobia?” is a more literal Greek translation. Yet despite lack of faith, Jesus does not desert those who dare to travel with him. He is not choosy about his travel companions!
- Note also that it is only when the disciples seem to think that all is lost do they think to turn to Jesus. Isn’t that true for all of us? Only when we are up against the proverbial brick wall do we discover the saving grace of Jesus was there for us all the time? Jesus cares and is always there for you—-that is the message of this text.
We have many and various storms in our lives today, don’t we? The storm may be the discovery of a serious illness that suddenly slams us down. The storm may be the death of a loved one that comes unexpectedly. The storm may be the alienation and rejection by a friend or mate whom we love and respect and felt the feeling was mutual. The storm may be the failure of a business or a church that we put our heart and soul and material goods into. The list could go on and on.
So how do we try and meet the storms in our lives that assail us?
- Most of us react like the disciples—we try to take care of it ourselves. Our natural inclination is to want to control events and fix the things that go wrong in our lives.
- At some point, though, our own humanity stares us in the face and fear marches through our body and soul. This is the fear that leads to despair and hopelessness. THAT IS THE POINT WHERE JESUS MEET US WITH A WORD TO THE STORM. “Be Quiet!” “Be Still!” ONLY WHEN WE ARE UP AGAINST THE WALL AND IT SEEMS HOPELESS AND WE CAN’T HELP OURSELVES DO WE THINK TO TURN TO JESUS!
- And we realize at that point that Jesus has been there with us all the time, if we had but recognized his presence in our lives!
JESUS IS IN THE BOAT WITH US AS WE GO THROUGH LIFE’S STORMS—-HE CARES! Amen.