Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blast from the past 2. My second ever sermon. August 2002 on Mark 4

This is the second sermon I ever preached in the Cathedral. It was one night during the summer, in our 'Summer Praise' series. We were looking at incidents from the Gospel of Mark, as if they were postcards from Peter. I'm not entirely fond of this one now, but this is at it was preached, so I might as well include it for your reading...

It was still early in Jesus' ministry. His disciples were still sizing him up – getting an idea of who or what he was. This man who had called them with the words “Come, follow me.” This teacher.

He had told them to come over in the boat with with. And then suddenly, a storm breaks! It must have been a huge storm – the disciples were obviously fearful enough to wake Jesus – remember, four of the disciples, including Peter, were experienced fishermen!

And where was their teacher, their friend? Lying sleeping?! How could he sleep in a rocking boat with waves breaking over the side?

So they woke him. “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?” What was he doing? Does he not care for his friends, or his own life? And then... He starts talking to the weather? Rebuking the wind, telling the waves to be still? And... it happens?!

The wind dies down. The waves are still. And Jesus is telling the disciples off? Asking why they are so afraid – why they have no faith?

No wonder the disciples are terrified and confused. “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”

So what can we learn from this?

Just as the disciples thought he didn't care about their danger, so we may think that Jesus is asleep to our problems. However, sometimes we may need a storm to teach us something new. In the disciples' case, they saw Jesus' power in a new way – because he had been asleep. It can actually be the best time for learning – when we are seemingly alone – with nothing but God to trust.

Jesus showed how much he cared about his disciples' problems. Although the roar of the storm could not disturb his sleep, as soon as his disciples cried out to him, he awoke. God is never asleep to our prayers. He is always listening. This should give us courage and help in the midst of the storms. God does not sleep to our prayers, he is always watching over us, as we read in Psalm 121.

Jesus could comand the wind and waves. He could, because he made them. He spoke to the wind and waves like a master speaks to a servant. All things in our universe are under his control. And God is a God of love. Thee is an old story of a Christian army officer at sea with his family in a storm. The passengers were all terrified, but the officer was calm. His wife was upset, that he wasn't concerned for his family, if not himself, in such danger. He made no reply, but later came to her, with his sword drawn, and pointed it close to her. Yet she was not alarmed – but smiled at him. He asked her, “Are you not afraid to have a drawn sword threatening you?” “No,” she replied, “Not when I know it is in the hands of one that loves me.” “Then why would I be afraid of this tempest when I know it is in the hands of my Heavenly Father, who loves me?” He asked.

One more thing to be noticed. The disciples called Jesus 'Teacher' – after all, he had been teaching the crowds all day. But by the end of the storm, they were terrified, and confused. Who is this? Was he just a great teacher and nothing more?

Indeed, some people today would still regard Jesus as just a teacher, perhaps even the best. But this isn't true! He must be God – to rule the wind and waves, to bring us comfort, to care for us, and to answer our prayers.

So when was the last time we were amazed or terrified by Jesus?

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