Devotional Message: The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 7B (6/21/2015)

Lessons

Job 38:1-11
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2nd Corinthians 6:1-13
St. Mark 4:35-41

Semicontinuous Series

1st Samuel 17:[1a, 4-11, 19-23] 32-49
Psalm 9:9-20

Prayer of the Day

O God of creation, eternal majesty, you preside over land and sea, sunshine and storm. By your strength pilot us, by your power preserve us, by your wisdom instruct us, and by your hand protect us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Text for This Sunday

4:35 On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 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.40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” 

St. Mark 4:35-41 New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Jesus is teaching beside the sea. He is sharing kingdom parables with his listeners. The kingdom of heaven is like a sower who goes out to sow…  The kingdom of heaven is like lamp under a bushel basket… The kingdom of heaven is like a seed growing in the ground… The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed… Then, without explanation, he decides it is time to leave. Time to make their way across the Sea of Galilee to the other side; the Gentile side. Perhaps St. Mark reminds us here that the ministry of Jesus will not be limited to just one people. The minute we begin to imagine ourselves as insiders, he is on the water, and heading for the other side.

So they climb into the boat, put off from the shore, and begin to row. One imagines that the disciples must have been feeling a bit triumphant. Their leader had cured many diseases. He had wowed the crowd with his surprising wisdom. The crowd had become so large that he had to sit in a boat, some distance from the shore, in order to escape being crushed. Just imagine how it is going to go when they get to the other side! More miracles. More teaching. More followers.

But the trip doesn’t go quite as planned. While Jesus takes a nap in the stern, the disciples find themselves up against a great storm. These brawny men, well familiar with the storms that develop so quickly over the water, suddenly find themselves in the midst of storm the likes of which they rarely observe. They are frightened, and wake Jesus up. They ask him (actually, it sounds as though they accuse him) whether or not he cares about them. Whether or not he loves them. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.”

It is then that the same power of God evident in his healing touch once again becomes present. By Jesus’ word, the great storm is stilled, the hearts of those traveling with him in the boat are calmed, and their ultimate response is one of shock and awe: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Who is this indeed! No less than the Son of God. No less than the King of kings. No less than the One who is and who was and who will be to come. On that stormy afternoon Jesus shows his followers that they need fear no evil, for God is with them, to comfort and to calm and to protect them.

And with us as well. Many times life’s journey resembles a storm at sea: when health fails or death is near, when marriage and parenting become a challenge, when making a witness to our faith puts us at considerable risk, when standing up for what’s right makes us stand out from the crowd… in those times we may feel as though the waves are crashing and the boat is sinking. Yet we don’t travel alone along life’s journey. We travel accompanied by the presence of Christ, who stilled the seas and calmed the hearts of his followers, and promises to do so for you and for me today.

Thanks be to God for this good news!

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. What must the disciples have been feeling as they embarked?
  2. Why did this storm scare them so completely?
  3. How did this experience with Jesus strengthen them in days to come?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. When has my life felt as though it was filled with storms?
  2. How has my faith been a source of calm for me?
  3. In what ways has God answered this question for me: “Do you not care that I am perishing?”