NOW JUST WHO IS THIS JESUS?
Sea ... We don't respect
the sea the way the ancients did. With our boats, canoes, party barges, sea doo's,
and water skis we treat the seas, the lakes, and the rivers as God's gifts for
recreation. Every so often an accident on the water reminds us to be
cautious. Occasionally, when a hurricane like Dennis comes rolling our way, we
are confronted by the terrible power of the sea. But few of us make our living
on the sea and our lifestyle is tied into proximity to the ocean. If it was,
we might regard it a little more "spiritually."
is a good reason why sailors are a superstitious lot. They know that crossing
the sea is dangerous. This is why the ancients made sure not to offend the
spirits of the deep as they went cruising over their heads. If the spirits got
mad they could swallow you up into the briny deep in a quick blast.
Jesus was teaching by the sea there might have been some indication that bad
weather was boiling up. The seasoned fishermen of Jesus' group didn't know
anything about low pressure fronts, but they were tuned into the signs. They
also believed that the forces of the deep might be reeling and squirming
because Jesus is crossing over their territory. They have seen the Teacher
command evil spirits, but this was when he had the home court advantage. Dare
he trespass on their turf? Why does he insist on crossing over to the other
day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other
side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took Jesus along, just as he was, in the
boat. There were also other boats with him.
A furious storm came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that
it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The
disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He
got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"
the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are
you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
were terrified and asked each other, "Just who is this? Even the wind and the
waves obey him!"
you care if we drown?"
Our questions and our fears:
Does He care?
The disciples were
nervous to begin with crossing over and into the home of the evil spirits. Going
to the other side meant going to place unsafe and risky. ("Thar be monsters
here"). Perhaps they were just a bit more bold because Jesus, who had proven
his ability to go head to head with demons, was with them. If he insisted on
going to the other side shouldn't he at least be giving them some reassurance?
Shouldn't he be taking the spyglass from the captain to keep a look out for the
enemy? Instead, he is sleeping on the job. He's sawing logs below decks.
What sort of leader snoozes during a storm? Does
He even care?
- We have had an
awfully stormy week. Two
demons from the deep named tragedy and terror emerged from the waves. We have
buried people that we love. We are worried for the health of others.
Globally, the war on terror is not over. Men and women possessed by demons of
hatred and desperation struck at a city in the midst of celebration (London). Destruction has wakened from the deep and is
charging toward the Gulf Coast. Where is Jesus? Does he care? When a loved
dies, does he care? When evil strikes, does he care? When people suffer, does
he care? When fears increase, does he care? Or is he asleep below decks on a
- Do you hear just a hint
of irritation in their voices: Teacher, don't you care that we all
could die? Or are you just going to sleep through it all?
- Now Just Who is
This Jesus? Well, they call him TEACHER. Is
that how we think of him? Is he the one sent from heaven to straighten out
that fussy Old Testament doctrine? Is he a talented preacher whose real
purpose is to take the hit for us and deflect God's wrath? Jesus is more than
a religious teacher. Jesus is more than a well-timed substitute sacrifice. His
teaching reveals the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He proclaimed that it
was near. God is not waiting to smite Jesus so he can save us. No, the kingdom
rule of God is at work in Jesus.
O LORD God
Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness
surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you
still them. (Psalm 89:9) Who is
like God almighty? Jesus, the son of God. He does not simply teach
us about God. He reveals God. Jesus acts just as God acts. He has power over
the turbulent seas and he commands the storm . . .
Jesus' word against
the powers: SHUT UP! CALM
DOWN! Remember how the crowds were amazed at his teaching - he had
authority. That authority is not limited to teaching.
His word to the
disciples: What are
you afraid of? Where's your faith? In other words, don't you
Now just who is
this Jesus? Do you hear the anxiety in their question?
(What have we gotten into?) Miracles demonstrate the power and authority of
Jesus, they can prompt the right question, but by themselves they do not give
the answer. Even after Jesus stills the great storm we are still left in the great
calm to ask questions. Who is this Jesus? What do you say? More to the
point, do you trust him? How you answer the question of all good
disciples (Who is this Jesus, then?) has a lot to do with how much we trust
him. How much power and honor do we give to Jesus?
Trusting Jesus when he
calls to us from the shore is not as risky. When his call comes from a breezy,
windswept beach on a sunny day, it comes as a pleasant invitation. Almost like
an invitation to join a game of volleyball, come on over to the BBQ, or sign up
for a civic club.
Trusting Jesus when he
asks us to follow him into the eye of the storm, to cross over to the place
where evil controls the city is much riskier. That's when the powers rage and
fume and spit all their fury. That's when evil reaches out to swamp our boats.
is headed for "the other side" as part of our mission to make disciples. Just
because we are faithful to follow Jesus and go where he wants. Just being
Christian is getting more "counter-cultural" and risky every day].
Do we trust Jesus enough
to risk our safety and security for the sake of the mission? Do we trust him
even when storms are blowing all around us? When the powers of tragedy,
terror, destruction, and desperation storm against us will we lose courage? Will
we lose faith? Will we panic and get angry? Or will we rest easy with
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 July 2005
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