Summary: Narrative sermon based on Jesus calming the storm, focussing on the question "Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
It had been a good day. Jesus had been preaching and teaching a large crowd of people, and they were spell-bound, desperate for more. There had been huge excitement, everyone was desperate to hear what this unusual teacher had to say. He wasn’t like the normal religious teachers. For a start he was a local boy, not one of the southern elite. Then there was the way he spoke. He wasn’t constantly quoting other teachers for his authority, he sounded like he knew what he was talking about himself, as if he really knew God, not just about him. The question on everybody’s mind was “who is he?”
On one level, of course, everybody knew who he was – the village carpenter from Nazareth. Nazareth? That was just a few miles away. But what was the carpenter from Nazareth doing setting himself up as a teacher? And where on earth did he get that authority? There must be more to him than just the carpenter from Nazareth. He was a real mystery man.
He had truly told them much that day. Nobody had thought that preaching could be so exciting and interesting, it was not like the preaching and teaching they were used to, dry and boring. Instead each individual felt that he was really talking to them, knowing exactly what they needed and the position they were in. It was uncanny. Nobody noticed how quickly the time was going. It had been a really good day.
He had been speaking in stories to illustrate what he said, parables he called them. He spoke of farmers sowing seed, just like in every day life. All his stories could be identified with and understood very easily But that was not all. It was some of the marvellous things that he did. He healed the sick, the lame, the blind, the death. They were real-life miracles before the very eyes of ordinary, working, uneducated people.
He cast demons out of those who were oppressed by the powers of evil. Evil spirits obeyed him and feared him. He could hold a crowd spell-bound for hours on end. How can he do these things? Where does his power come from? Above all, who is he?
What a day it had been!
But like all good days it had to come to end. Evening came. It was time to go home. People were a bit reluctant to leave, and in the end Jesus had to make it clear that the day was over. On the way home everybody was asking, “who on earth was that?” Some people said that he was one of the prophets from centuries before come back. Others said that his cousin, John, who had also been a preacher and had had his head cut off by the king, had come back to life. Others said that he was the special prophet spoken about by Moses. A few were beginning to hope that he was the long-promised Messiah, coming to rescue the country from the Roman occupiers and restore the golden age of Israel. Some just didn’t know. There were many theories. But nobody knew for sure.
True, for many it was just curiosity, something they were interested in but that was not going to impact on the rest of their lives, they would go home and go to bed and then, next day, get on with their normal lives; but for others it was a question of vital importance – “who is he?”
He’d been in a boat all day. The large crowd had been standing on the shore of the lake, jostling, pushing and shoving trying to get near. Preaching from a boat was the only way that he could address them without falling into the lake. He had a group of twelve especially close followers. He suggested to them that they went over to the other side of the lake in the boat. They willingly went with him, wanting to have some quality time with him away from the crowds. But some of the crowd rushed into small boats and followed them, trying to keep close. They wanted to see and hear more, to help themselves answer the question “who is he?”
Now he was completely shattered. Exhausted from the long, hard, but good day. From giving all of himself to the people. Lying down in the stern of the boat he immediately fell into a deep sleep.
His twelve friends, a bit disappointed that he didn’t stay awake for them, carried on across the lake, enjoying the sail in the cool evening air, after the stiflingly hot day. It was all going smoothly and was a serene and relaxing ending to a busy day.
Then it happened. The hot air of the day, rising from the lake as the evening set in, allowed colder air from higher up to come rushing down the mountains and through the gorges surrounding the lake. Suddenly the tranquillity was shattered by a violent storm.