Public Reading: Luke 8:22-25
Today is special. Once a year we embark on a pilgrimage to this small outpost of Jesus hidden in the mountains. Some folks may ask why we do it as it is a lot of work to shift locations – people may forget and not show up – we may miss visitors, etc…
Yet in the midst of all the challenges there is something incredibly special, amazing, phenomenal, pick your adjective, in shifting our schedule and traveling as a group into the mountains to meet Jesus. This is not to say that Jesus is not in the valley nor that he doesn’t show up at other times (far from it!). It is just that this little church is a ‘thin place’ – a place where it seems that the fabric of heaven and earth, physical and spiritual is thin…a place where we see God show up….
In our passage today we see Jesus and his apostles traveling as well. Yes, they did this often as Jesus was rarely still, but moved from one place to another pronouncing and demonstrating the Kingdom of God. This time, however, was different.
Jesus had asked his followers to cross the Sea of Galilee and enter into a predominantly Gentile area. Seeing how relationship between the Jews and Romans were constantly straining, I could see some of the twelve wondering if Jesus had lost his mind. Simon the Zealot most likely had the hardest as he had given his life before meeting Jesus to fighting and killing the Romans…Matthew the tax collector most likely didn’t mind too much…
But they both knew – they all knew – that there was just something about Jesus that made you want to stay as close to him as possible. Laying aside their misgivings – and trusting to the boating skill of their fellow apostles – or, shall I say, Peter, Andrew, James and John – they climbed into the boat and started sailing.
Part way across the boat a violent wind came upon them and sought to sink their boat. The Scriptures states that they “were in great danger.” Think about that for a moment, ‘great danger.’
A bunch of these apostles were fisherman who grew up on that sea. They knew it like the back of their hands! And they were scared! Very scared!
Looking around they found Jesus asleep.
Can you image that? He must have been pretty tired if he was able to sleep from a storm of that caliber. Yet, there he was sleeping away…
The Twelve awoke him and in their fear, questioned if he carried about them. To me, I don’t think they were looking for Jesus to calm the storm – they most likely just wanted another man to help bail out water or pull on the sails. It was an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ kind of storm!
How often do we get scared at the storms in our lives? Whether they be weather related storms, spiritual storms, emotional storms or physical storms?
If you are like me, you love following Jesus when he is walking on a dry path. Yeah, it may be hot, but at least you know where your feet are!
I can hear Simon the Zealot muttering to himself, “I don’t him not to go to the land of the Gentiles! I’m sure this storm is God’s punishment!” Matthew was most likely wishing he was still at his tax booth! James, John, Peter and Andrew were most likely wishing for more experienced sailors instead of a rag-tag bunch of religious nuts!
We, just like the 12, sometimes look around trying to find Jesus only to see him sleeping in the corner. At that our blood starts to boil and we, like the 12, run over to him and yell, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38)
Jesus Was Right There
Jesus was in the boat with the Twelve. He didn’t fly over the storm or walk around it. He was right there in the middle of the storm with the 12 = if the boat went boat went down, Jesus would have been swimming along with everyone else.
Think about this for a moment. The God who created heaven and earth – the One who could do anything has tied His future and His heart to us – to humanity. He interwove His essence into us when we were created in His image…
When we succeed, He success; when we fail, He fails; when we are sad, He is sad; when we are happy, He is happy. Jesus is not removed from our lives – hanging out in heaven somewhere giving us orders to follow.
Far from it!!
“…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matt 28:20
He has promised us that He would be with us each step of the way.
Remember the story of the Israelites? God made a covenant with Abraham and He did not break it. Even when the children of Abraham forsook Him and ran off after false gods and idols – even when they turned their back on God and cursed His name, He did not leave them alone. He continued to passionately pursue them!
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.
44 Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented. –Psalms 106:43-45
We have it even better than the Israelites of old:
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. –Hebrew 4:13-16
So that we may receive mercy and grace and help in our time of need…
In returning to our passage in Luke, we see the 12 at their wits end. They have lost all hope and have screaming at Jesus. Jesus gets up, looks around and rebukes the wind and waves – causing peace to cover the sea.
Then he turns to the disciples and says something odd, “Where is your faith?”
What is happening here? Is Jesus upset at them for getting scared?
I don’t think so… another word for ‘faith’ is trust. Jesus is asking them where is their trust… don’t they trust Him…even when things get tough…
Jesus is asking them to remember all the things they have gone through before them – to remember their history as people of God – to remember the stories of God delivering his people from harm – stories about God calming the storms – to remember the tense times of debate with the religious leaders when it looked like Jesus and his followers wouldn’t have a chance… to remember the promises of Jesus – to remember that God’s Kingdom was breaking into their world!
Walking Through the Storms
A lot of times in our lives we want God to take us out of the storms of live – whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual. We beg and pray for Jesus to remove us from this location and put us down somewhere else.
We forget that Jesus is right there with us in the boat. His name and His heart is tried to ours. He is not looking down at us laughing, but is right beside us crying and wrestling with the pain…
Jesus knew that this world is hard… this is why He prayed to the Father to protect us:
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. –John 17:14-19
As we end, I would like to read Hebrews 10:32-39
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”[a]
“But my righteous[b] one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”[c]
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.