Good morning! Welcome to worship! The old song goes “Summer time and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” Beautiful song, but rarely true. Chaos and calamity are no respecter of seasons.
We are in a sermon series through the Gospel of Mark called, “In the Footsteps of the Master.” Jesus is giving his disciples on the job training to prepare them for the work they will do after he is gone. Just when they think they have this Jesus stuff figured out, he moves them to a deeper level. Sounds like life doesn’t it? Let’s open our Bibles to Mk 4:35.
Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to teach you something about Jesus you didn’t know before? Let’s get started! “That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side. Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with them.” Mk 4:35-36
They are at the fisherman’s beach on the west side of the Lake of Galilee in the village of Capernaum. The other side of the lake is five or six miles away. Their boat is built of cedar. It’s 25 feet long, 6 wide at the beam. It’s got sails and oars. It’s a safe, sturdy, steady work boat. Peter, James, John had great equipment and they were proud of it.
It was built for fishing at night because that’s when the fish come to the surface. It’s also when the winds coming over the hill from the Mediterranean die down. Meaning, when Jesus asked the men to take him across the lake in the dark, it should have been routine. They could handle it, right? But then chaos happened. Are you familiar with chaos?
But before we get to the chaos, why did Jesus want to go to the other side of the lake? Crazy people lived there. Godless people, unclean people, “strange people” lived there. Why go? You’ll have to come back next week to find out. Back to the story…
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Any sailors among us this morning? Growing up on the alkali flats of eastern Montana, I always wanted to be a sailor. I got my chance when I was a student at Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle. I hired on as crew for a 70ft classic wooden cabin cruiser taking kids on camping trips in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle.
I was so excited. My first trip was to sail from Seattle up to Anacortes. We stayed inside Whidbey Island because of the weather. We arrived at Deception Pass after dark and pointed the bow between cliffs. A 10 knot current was carrying us under the high bridge.
As soon as we cleared the pass the front of the boat dropped like a rock into a huge hole in the sea and we took 3 feet of green water over our bow. Normally that bow stood 10 feet above the waterline. We went from peace and order to terrifying chaos in seconds. Our gear was flying around the cabin. It wasn’t long and I was hanging over the stern holding on for dear life and feeding the fish. So much for being a sailor, the sea had bested me. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Mark continues to record Peter’s story...
“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.” Mk 4:38
These experienced fishermen were scared, embarrassed, angry! I don’t blame them. Chaos does that. What should have been routine had become out of control and were staring death in the face.
Just when we think we’ve got it all together - bam! We come face to face with the reality that we don’t. How do you respond when that happens? Remember, Jesus was just as human as these fishermen except he’s not a sailor - he’s a carpenter, a rabbi. So why isn’t he more frightened than these professional fishermen?
The word “nightmare” literally means the sea at night. This midnight cruise has become a nightmare and evidently Jesus isn’t smart enough to realize the jeopardy they are in! No wonder they’re angry. Have you ever been angry with God when chaos interrupted your life? Have you reacted badly when you found yourself out of control?
“God - where are you? Are you sleeping? Don’t you know what’s going on here! We’re about to drown! We’re going to die! Don’t you care! Wake up! Give us a hand here!”
What’s with Jesus? He’s in the boat with them. He’s experiencing everything they’re experiencing. Yet he’s responding completely differently from them. Instead of allowing the chaos around him to take control of his soul – he remains at peace, even in the face of impending death! What’s the lesson here?
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Shalom, peace, quiet, be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mk 4:39
This isn’t the first time this happened. Remember this? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Gen 1:1-2
Have you ever wondered when Satan was cast down to earth? It was obviously after the world was created yet before the creation of Adam and Eve. Many scholars think the strongest possibility is between verse 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. Note the words, “darkness was over the surface of the deep”.
The ancient Hebrews saw the sea as chaos. Only God could control the raging sea. The Spirit of God was hovering over the chaos and God began to speak order into his creation. A creation many scholars believe that had been thrown into chaos by the arrival of Satan.
It is Jesus himself that begins to re-order things. He separates light from darkness, he calms the sea puts boundaries on the water. This same God now gets up from his nap in the back of the boat and speaks order into the wind and the waves of Galilee. “Shalom, peace, be still!”
Look at verse 40. As the waves and wind die down, Jesus says to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mk 4:40
What’s the answer? The truth is they had faith, but it was misplaced. They trusted in their own ability as sailors. Instead of trusting God, they trusted themselves and their own ability to control the chaos that threatened them. When those things failed, they were lost.
It goes even deeper. When their faith in their ability to get Jesus to do what they wanted him to do failed, they were lost. Some people make faith into a work. If you just believe hard enough, you can get God to do whatever you want done. But that’s not faith, that’s magic.
What if God chooses not to calm the sea? What if it’s his will to let me drown? Does that mean chaos wins? No. Jesus is Lord over whatever comes our way. Job, even in the midst of overwhelming chaos and pain said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” Job 13:15
Important question! Was Jesus at peace in that terrible storm because he knew at any time he had the power to stand up and command the waves to be still? Or was he at peace in the boat because he knew his Father was in control? Paul put it this way “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Rom 14:8
Remember Jesus is modeling for his disciples what it means to live by faith. Death is chaos, it’s the ultimate breakdown of all our attempts to be in control. There is no greater example of chaos than the events surrounding the cross, yet we see Jesus moving through it all, not as a powerless victim, but with a peace, a trust, a serenity that makes no earthly sense.
The resurrection is the greatest example of God bringing order to Satan’s chaos. “But Pastor John, you don’t understand! We’re about to drown here. We’re out of control!” That’s good! I’m glad you finally figured that out. Shalom, chill out, Jesus is right there in the boat beside you.
“But we’re all gonna die!” Of course you are. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mk 8:35
Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
The faith Jesus is talking about begins when we die to ourselves and our need to be in control. You can’t be resurrected from the dead until you die! The Apostle Paul put like this. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I know live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.” Gal 2:20
He went on to write, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthy things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Col 3:2-3
Something did die in the disciples that night or at least it started to. It was their own sense of self-sufficiency. When Jesus moves into our heart by faith our response to the chaos of the world around us begins to change. We aren’t controlled any longer by our fear. The disciples aren’t there yet, but they’re growing. They’re learning. How about you?
We close with vs 41, “The disciples were terrified and they asked each other, “Who is this, even the wind and the waves obey him?” Mark 4:40-41 Do you have the answer? His name is Jesus. Are you ready to follow him? He is the only one with the power to bring order/peace to your chaos!