Summary: Sermon for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
Do Not Be Afraid / John 6: 14 - 21
Intro: One day a very small, sickly-looking man with thick glasses rode into a western town on the stagecoach. He was hired to be the new bartender for the town saloon. He was warned by his new boss, “Remember, drop everything and run for your life if ever you hear that Big John is on his way to town.” Things went well for awhile. Suddenly a big, strong cowhand burst through the swinging door shouting, “Big John’s a’comin’! The patrons scrambled to the door knocking the bartender to the ground. He gathered his senses, found his glasses; but, it was too late. A giant of a man riding bareback on a buffalo using a rattlesnake for a whip came right through the saloon doors, splintering them as he entered. He flung the rattlesnake in the corner, knocked of the tables, took his massive fist and split the bar in half demanding a drink. The bartender nervously handed him a bottle. The giant of a man bit off the top with his teeth, downed the contents in one gulp and let out a belch that shattered the saloon’s mirror. The bartender asked if he’d like another bottle. “I ain’t got no time,” the man roared as he got on his buffalo, rattlesnake in hand. “Big John’s a’comin’ to town!”
I. Life is a series of problems. Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another. Our lives seem to be full of storms of one sort or another.
A. An analysis of the storms in our lives reveals that sometimes they are brought on by our own Stupidity or sin. Sometimes they are caused by one’s own bad decisions. They may be caused by the actions of someone else. At times they just seem to happy and we have no idea why.
B. Storms happen --- the storm of illness, the storm of death, the storm of rejection, the storm of unjust criticism, the storm of family problems, the storm of addiction. Storms happen to us all.
C. When storms come, we may ask ourselves, “Lord, what have I done to deserve this?” “Lord, why have you left me in the midst of this storm?” --- Storms are not a sign of the absence of the Lord.
II. VS. 18 “A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.”
A. In reality, two storms raged that night on the sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a deep fresh water lake, 13 miles long by 7 miles wide, 600 feet below sea level. To the east are the Golan Heights rising to a few thousand feet. To the west about 2.000 feet above the shore is the Galilean hill country. Because of the surrounding terrain, storms on the Sea of Galilee are unpredictable and treacherous.
B. Another storm raged that night. This one was in the hearts of the disciples. It had been a full, inspiring day culminating in the feeding of 5,000 people and Jesus leaving them to go into the hills to pray. Was it the suddenness of the storm or the darkness of the hour or the worry about Jesus and his puzzling reaction to the adoring crowds that made this storm worse than others. Vs. 19 “When they had rowed three or three and a helf miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified.”
C. Rick Warren author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and Pastor of Saddleback Church in California once said, “The reason for problems in one’s life is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. The goal of life is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
III. Fear is a horrible thing. Sometimes it’s not just the situation that heightens our fear, it is the condition inside us. Nothing is worse than not knowing where you are headed or what may lurk behind the next shadow.
A. VS. 20 – But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” The Greek text reads: ego eimi (έγώ είμι) These are the same words used in the GK. Of Exodus 3: 24 to translate the words of the Lord: “I am that I am”.
B. It could also be translated as it is in the NIV, “It is I, the same Jesus with whom you have been traveling, eating, sleeping and ministering. You don’t need to be afraid of me.”
C. When we attempt to handle the storms of life by ourselves we often get to the point of saying, “I can’t do this any longer.” It is at that point Christ Jesus comes to us saying, “Here I am. Don’t’ be afraid.”