Summary: This sermon looks at Jesus' miracle of stilling the storm and applies it to our lives. The first half looks at the text, and the second text applies it with the hymn "Be Still, My Soul."
Man and water have always had an interesting relationship. It is something that man cannot control, although it is all around him and vital for his survival. Over 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. We live in the land of 10,000 lakes, it is all around us as well. Despite that, it is something that we really cannot control or have any power over. For who can stop the rain? Who can calm a sea, or tell its waters to stop moving? Who can redirect its flow or path with ease? Who can halt its destructive power and force when things like hurricanes or floods hit? Perhaps that is why many of the world’s most impressive engineering feats involve water, or revolve around it. In the Gospel text, we Jesus doing what man cannot. We see Him make the list of engineering feats. He controls the water and waves, and does so with just two, little, simple words. This morning, we will take a look at this miracle, and see what it means for our lives.
Just previously, Jesus taught about faith, which will be the very thing the disciples will lack in this story, and what the Kingdom of God is like. After teaching all day, and explaining these concepts to His disciples, He decides that they should leave and depart to the other side, even though it is night. They are going to go the country of the Gerasenes, which is a gentile area. And after leaving the crowd, they took Jesus in the boat, and departed to the other side.
As they are on their way, a great windstorm arises! On the Sea of Galilee, these could happen quickly and without notice. They could even happen with sunny and clear skies. When the western winds would come off of Mount Hermon and collide with the warm lake water, these sudden and violent storms would be produced. And boy, was a violent storm upon them!
The waves of the sea crashed upon the boat, and began to spill in. The boat begins to fill with water, and it is starting to sink! The disciples are doing what they can, but it is to no avail. They begin to panic. The experienced fisherman are scared and fearing for their lives! You have to imagine that they have endured many a storm! This is not new to them. They know the situation is dire! It is like a car mechanic looking over your car, and with a concerned look on his face, calls you into the shop to point out to you something underneath. When that happens, you know it is not good, and will probably be expensive. It is like a doctor looking defeated and sullen after looking at her patient’s test results. Again, their reaction tells the direness of the situation. It is the same here. The disciples’ fear says it all: things are not good!
And the disciples decide to do the smart thing and go to Jesus for help. They think He can do something. Afterall, He has shown mastery over sickness and demons. Maybe, just maybe, He can do something here. And as they enter the stern, they find Him sleeping on a pillow. So, they decide to wake Him. They say, “Teacher!” That is how they see Jesus at this point in the Gospel of Mark. He certainly is a teacher alright, but is certainly much more. Jesus is going to teach them that.
After the address, they follow with everyone’s favorite way to wake-up, immediately hear a compliant. They say things are life threatening. They have the gall to tell Jesus, “You don’t care! You aren’t concerned for us! Don’t you know what is going on? How can you sleep and do nothing? Do you not care that we are perishing?” What a way to be awakened!
Jesus rises to action He rebukes the wind and tells the sea two, simple, small, ordinary words. He says, “Siopa, pephimoso!” The first word means, “Silence!” or “Shut-up!” It does not mean peace, or really carry that idea. The second word means, “Be Still!” Jesus addresses creation by speaking to it like a person. He tells the sea to stop its raging and yelling. With that, a great miracle happens. The storm immediately stops, and a great calm is produced.
I have had the blessing of living on both sides of Lake Michigan, and close to the lake, for both college and vicarage. I have seen many a storm over the lake, and I have seen the after-effects many times. Once a storm would be over, the lake would still be wavy and choppy. It did not immediately calm down. In fact, it was a rare sight to see the lake completely calm and still. Jesus produces a great calm here. He shows His power, His control, and His identity. It is a miracle how calm it is after such a violent storm.