Summary: Proper 7 (b) Christ's words perform what they declare and deliver what they promise. We are assured that His promise of salvation in His name will bring us safely through.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Admiral Jesus and the ship of faith”
Have you been on a ship? Have you been out to sea? Then you know how different it feels when you are beyond on the sight of land. When no matter which way you look – it’s water, water, everywhere. You’re in another world.
If you haven’t been at sea, then perhaps you have been in boat. And although you may be close to shore, that is different too, isn’t it. How, almost magically, the boat is carried on the surface of the water. Gliding along. There, too, you are in another world, and separated from land.
You know just how separated from land you are when the wind kicks up, and the water gets choppy. It’s no longer smooth sailings. You are tossed about. You wonder whether you will be tossed out, tossed overboard. You feel the damp wind, the darkness of the clouds descend on you. The shore that was so close is so distant now. Will we make it? Will this be the end?
The disciples had such an outing in the boat with Jesus in our Gospel reading today. Jesus and the disciples had been in Capernaum, which is on the western side of the sea of Galilee. Capernaum is where Peter’s mother in law lived. It is in Capernaum where Jesus' mother and brothers came to fetch Him home, as we read two weeks ago. Jesus was preaching there, and so that He could preach to the crowds, He got into a boat and put out a bit from the shore. It makes a type of natural amphitheater, so the crowds could hear Him. It is from this boat that He told the parables about the kingdom of God, for Christ was bringing in the reign and rule of God. Remember how He told about the seed, and how it grows automatically, even though the farmer does not know how. That the kingdom of God grows on its own, even though we don’t understand it.
Now He has finished preaching. So he tells the disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side.” And the disciples get busy fixing the boat to sail. That is why the text says, “they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.” And they sent out over the sea of Galilee.
Now the sea of Galilee is prone to storms. Even to this day. They brew up fast, out of nowhere. And so the disciples find themselves in the middle of such a storm. And it’s a real one. The waves are great. They are spilling into the boat. The water is rising, inside and out, and the boat is sinking. Mark tells us that Jesus was in the back of the boat. He was not up at the bow, looking out. Not only that but he was on the cushion. On top of that , He was asleep. In the back, on the cushion, asleep. The disciples rouse Him. “Master, do you not care that we are about to die?” Are they waking him because they believe he can help them? Or is this a case of them being worried, and so everyone should be worried? How could He be sleeping at a time like this? We aren’t ever like that are we? "I don’t know what you can do, but you should be worried with me."
Jesus gets up. He speaks to the wind and the waves. "Peace. Be still." Instantly all is calm. Mark writes, “a great calm.” Totally still. Instead of raging wind and waves, there was a whole lot of nothing going on. Now Jesus says to them, “Why were you so frightened. Don’t you have any faith?” Why does He ask this? Because they have been with Him. They have seen him heal Peter’s mother in law of fever. He healed a man of leprosy. They saw Him heal the paralyzed man who was let down through the roof. Not only that but He forgave the paralyzed man’s sins, and He healed him on the Sabbath, and said, that the Son of Man was Lord of the Sabbath.
He had cast out demons several times. Then He healed a man’s hand withered hand. All of this they had seen Him do before they sent sail. And on top of that they had heard him say, the kingdom of God is at hand, and listened to Him preach. And so He asks them, Have you still no faith? There was good reason that they should have had faith in Him.
But Vicar, they came to Jesus and woke him up. Doesn’t that show that they were trusting Jesus to help them, to save them? Look for moment at the order of how things happen. They wake Him up. He calms the storm. Then after the miracle, He asks, Have you no faith? He isn't questioning their faith in ability to perform miracles. He just did the miracle, and is asking them about having no faith. So no faith in what? What’s this all about?