Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Jesus’ Calming Peace - June 24, 2012 - Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 07) - Text: Mark 4:35-41
Today we continue with another day in the life of Jesus. Last week, you might remember, we were following along with Jesus as He was teaching His disciples, and us, through telling parables. What great joy is ours to know that we too are disciples of Jesus, that is we are His children and we are being taught as He is teaching His twelve apostles and those who have gathered to hear Him teach. Last week Jesus taught us about what the Kingdom of God is like and the fact that He is the one who gives, strengthens and keeps us in faith through His means of grace; His Word, Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution and His Holy Supper and the fact that as we live lives as priests in the priesthood of all believers, we are sowing seeds of faith.
In our text for this morning we are privileged to see Jesus in His humanity, that is we see that Jesus is truly human. As we heard last week, Jesus had been preaching all day and now at the end of the day He dismissed the crowds so they could go home. He instructed His disciples in His desire to take the boat to the other side of the lake, perhaps to go there and begin teaching in the morning to still others. And we are told that He got in the boat and as He was truly human, He was tired, and He fell sleep.
Jesus is truly human and He exhibits human traits. Although He could have and at another time did walk across the lake on the water, this time He rode in the boat to get to the other side of the lake. Jesus depended on His disciples to row the boat to get across the lake. And again we are told that He fell asleep on a cushion in the boat.
We have established the fact that Jesus is and shows Himself to be truly human. He is a human man and shows His humanness in the fact that He was tired and sleepy and that He got in a boat, depending on His disciples to row Him across to the other side of the lake. Our text continues by showing us the fact that Jesus is also truly divine, that is that He is truly God. Jesus was able to sleep because, unlike His disciples and very often unlike us, He did not have any fear of the elements of the weather.
After the storm arose, after the waves began pouring water into the boat, after the disciples, full of fear because of the storm, woke Jesus, Jesus got up, commanded the wind and the waves and they obeyed. The wind ceased and the waves calmed, who else has control over the wind and the waves, over the weather, except God Himself and so through His control over the wind and the waves Jesus shows His divinity, He shows Himself to be truly God.
In the second article of the Apostles’ Creed we confess what Jesus is demonstrating, that we believe in “Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” Jesus was truly God, truly divine, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and truly human, born of the human woman, the Virgin Mary.
Jesus calms the storm and then He turns to His disciples as a disciplinarian. Jesus questioned His disciples as to why they were afraid. Someone once pointed out that the explanation to the first commandment is that “we should fear, love and trust in God above all things,” which truly means that when we are afraid of something or someone else other than God, that is idolatry, at least idolatry in its finer form. So, here in our text we see the disciples committing idolatry.
Jesus also questioned His disciples concerning their lack of faith. “Have you no faith?” Jesus asks, rather astonished. Personally, I am glad we have texts like this text, because I believe we must all admit that we are truly Jesus’ disciples, and truly we are very much like His first disciples, idolaters and lacking in faith. Not that this gives us any excuse to be lax in our own faith life, but certainly if the disciples struggled, I do not feel too bad when I have struggles in my own life.
But our text is not complete. At the end of our text we see that Jesus is also compassionate. The disciples were out in the middle of the lake, feeling threatened by a storm, being idolatrous, showing their lack of faith and Jesus saves them. He rebukes the wind and the waves and calms the troubled sea. Jesus takes care of the fear of His disciples by calming the storm and He moves to take care of their lack of faith also by calming the storm.
Jesus demonstrated, again, that He is God in human flesh. Jesus demonstrated once again that He is indeed the Messiah. This miracle, like many others Jesus’ performed, showed Him to be truly God in human flesh. Who else has power over nature except the very one who created nature, all things, God Himself, and yet here is Jesus, true God in human flesh and blood showing He is truly human in His getting tired and sleeping.
So, as we usually ask of our texts, “What does this mean?” There are some pastors, good pastors, who would suggest that this story is a story about the storms of life, in other words they would take this story as an allegory which is that parts of the story are symbolic. To allegorize this story is to suggest that the wind and the waves are the trials and temptations, the struggles we face in life. When we face the trials and temptations, the struggles in life we have a tendency to be afraid and lack faith. It is only when we call on Jesus that He comes to help us by calming the storms of life.
So, the allegorized version of this is a story can be summed up by saying that this story is about Jesus helping us through the storms of life. Now, there is some merit to this allegorizing of this story, because we would certainly agree that we do have struggles in our lives and when life is hard and we pray to Jesus, He helps us in those times of trouble. Actually He helps us even before we pray. But I think that allegorizing of this text leaves out too much of the heart of this text. Is the reason Jesus came to earth simply to be in our lives in order to calm the storms of our lives, or is there more to why He came to earth?
I believe that the fullness of this narrative is that this is a narrative about Jesus’ humanity, that is that Jesus uses this narrative to demonstrate that He is one of us, truly human. It is important that Jesus is human, that is that He is like us, even one of us. Jesus, who is truly God, and we will talk about that in a minute, was in heaven enjoying all the glory that was His in heaven, and yet, He gave up that glory in order to take on human flesh and blood, to live for us. Remember, God’s demand is that we are perfect and we cannot fulfill that demand. We are conceived and born in sin and so we can never live as He would have us to live. And in order to be our substitute, in order to trade His perfect life for our imperfect life Jesus had to be truly human.
This is a narrative also about Jesus divinity, that is that He is truly God. Jesus demonstrates that He is truly God with power and authority over all creation. No one has power over creation except the one who created all things and that one is Jesus. Jesus had to be truly God in order to be born in perfection and in order to raise Himself from the dead.
So, more than simply being a story about how we have struggles in life and we can go to Jesus and He will help us with our struggles, this is a narrative about how God loves us His creation, His creatures so much that He would become one of us, that He would struggle like us and for us. This is a story about how our God came in human flesh in order to overcome struggles for us, in our place.
In our Old Testament Reading from Job, the question God asks is “Who are we to question God?” especially in times of trials and struggles. And in the Epistle Reading, Paul writes to the Corinthians about the fact that God does use difficulties in life to draw us closer to Himself. We live in a cursed world, a world that is tainted by sin and so we live in expectation of trials and struggles. Yet, as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil, for our God, our Savior Jesus, who is truly human and truly divine, who lived for us in this world and overcame this world is with us every step of the way and He has dominion over this world in ways we cannot fathom.
Our response to what Jesus does and what God gives is to live lives of faith, with His help. On our own we fail, but with God all things are possible. God created us, to love us and to give to us. Because of Adam and Eve the world has been cursed and thus there is sin and evil in the world. Life brings trial and struggles. Jesus came, as God in human flesh in order to fulfill all righteousness, in order to fulfill God’s demand of perfection for us, in our place, and He did, perfectly. Jesus freely took our sins and paid the price for our sin, suffering and dying on the cross. As we celebrated a few weeks ago and as we celebrate every Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death and the devil. Jesus showed Himself to be alive and then He ascended to the place from which He descended. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. He will return again and gather us and all the saints and after robing us with His robes of righteousness He will take us to be with Himself in heaven for eternity.
Until our Lord returns, or until we pass on from this world, both of which will be sooner than we know and sooner than we might imagine, we rejoice in the opportunities we have of being given all the gifts and blessings our Lord has to give even through the very means He has of giving us those gifts, that is through the means of grace and through our making regular and diligent use of those means of grace. Through the very means of God’s Word, confession and absolution, our remembering our Baptism, and our partaking of the Lord’s very body and blood in His Holy Sacrament, the Lord strengthens us in our faith as we face the trials and struggles of life. And as He is with us, we rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.