6/25/2000, Pentecost 2, Year B
Then Is Jesus?
35. As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, "let us cross to the other side of the lake. 36. He was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37. But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. 38. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, "Teacher, don't you even care that we are going to drown?" 39. When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, "Quiet down!" Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40. And he asked them, "Why are you so afraid? Do you not have faith in me?" 41. And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, "Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey him?" (Mark 4: 35-41, NLT).
Eight year old Timmy attended Sunday School for the very first time with his grandmother. Returning home his grandfather asked, "Timmy, what did you learn in your class today?" The little fellow thought for a minute and then replied, "Well there was this cool guy Jesus who had the fastest and biggest speedboat on the lake and his buddies were drowning in a hurricane so Jesus took his big fast boat out and pulled them right in..." Gramps interrupted asking, "Timmy, are you sure that's exactly how your teacher told the story?" "Well not exactly." He responded. "But if I told you what they told me, you would never believe it!"
Spiritual things are sometimes hard to believe, even for those of us who have been attending Sunday School all of our lives. Yet, most of the highest and best about life is difficult to understand. Who can explain everyday phenomenon that we all take for granted? such as, where the wind comes from and where it goes. Even if we could understand the wind it would still be out of control. However, today's story about Jesus calming the wind illustrates to us that there is a creative power that can understand and control the wind and everything else. The God who made it can manage it.
Several hundred Christian college professors met at a seminar on faith this week at Georgia Tech. One of them stayed with us four nights. My lifelong friend, Dr. Donald Wood, related the story about a biology professor who has developed a demonstration that shows that the world could not have randomly happened. Using bacteria, which separates rapidly, he showed that the assumption that the simple could evolve into the complex was incorrect, because a complex set of highly developed circumstances were necessary at the first stage of separation of cells, and all along in the process of change. His conclusion was that there had to be a creative hand in the process for our highly advanced existence.
Today's story about Jesus illustrates that the God who flung the stars into space, and stepped out on nothing and created our world, does care about us. He knows us and loves us in spite of our rebellion. He desires the best for us. He has gone to a great deal of effort to pave the way for our redemption; yet we, like little John Rockers, keep messing up.
One of the most personal stories from the early days of Jesus' ministry is found in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 8:23; Mark 4:35, and Luke 8:22. It occurred just after Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was tired and felt the need to get away for a short break. He asked that his closest friends join him in a trip across The Sea of Galilee. Jesus went into the back of the small fishing boat and went to sleep on a pillow. While he was asleep a great tempest arose on the lake and the Apostles, especially those who were not seasoned fishermen, were afraid for their lives. So, they abruptly awakened Jesus from his deep sleep. Reading between the lines we can sense Jesus' frustration at having his nap cut short; so, he asked them sternly, "Where is your faith?" We can identify with both the Apostles' fear and with Jesus' frustration in this very human situation. Then Jesus did something that shocked them even more, He commanded the wind to cease and for the waves to be calm. Even though they had seen him perform miracles, and had just listened to his Sermon on the Mount, they were shaken by seeing him rebuke nature.
Then there is the great question that has rolled down through the ages to each of us: "What manner of man is this?" (Mk. 4:41, KJV).
I suppose that we could say that this is the question that every one of us must answer in order to become a true Christian. Who is this Christ and what is His claim upon my life?
No scientific experiment or computer program can answer this haunting question of the heart. It arises out of our anguish and heartache. Although we have an innate need to please we have never measured up because of our inner crucible of sin. From childhood we have been aware of a feeling of woe. Early on the scourge of sin settled into our misery. Yet, we have hoped for some way out of the plight of the pit. Then we heard the wonderful good news about Jesus who calmed the tempest. We were drawn to the pure one who promised a plan to make us righteous. There was something magnetic about the stories of Jesus and they grabbed our imaginations and began to take root. Soon we discovered that this was life's greatest struggle as we asked ourselves the eternal question: "Who is this Jesus, and what are his claims upon my life?
And then we yielded. We submitted, we surrendered to his will and simply said; I am now yours, do with me as you choose. Guide me into your perfect will for my life. Let me always remain in your love and grow into the fulness of your glory.
After coming to terms with life's great question we are filled with a desire to become our best for him. His holiness is our challenge to overcome, yet we still grapple with a sense of woe. Along the way we realize that it is His power at work within our lives that is both the source of desire and the hope of overcoming. "Accomplish your best in me, and calm the tempest inside," is our prayer.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor