Summary: Where is your faith? how long will you give someone the benefit of the doubt until you have to question them? how close are you willing to get?
Getting Into The Storm: Breaking Boundaries
Lent #1, Mar 1 2009, Luke 8:22-25
It is dark, and you are on the water. It was fine when you set out, but out of nowhere the storm comes. The boat begins to fill with water, and although you are all bailing as fast as you can, you can’t keep ahead. The vicious wind hurls the raindrops like icy darts, which sting like bees when they hit the back of your neck. You are soaked through to the skin. It is black night. You look down, and when the lightening flashes you see that the water is mid-way up your calves. You’ve been on the sea before in a storm, but not like this. You believe you are going to die – and this is not an idle fear, you’ve seen death, you’ve seen danger, you’ve been in difficult situations before but never like this. You know, “we’re going to drown!”.
Imagine the waves of fear. Some of the group are huddled in the corner weeping. Some are working madly, trying anything, fighting the storm with whatever strength they have. Some are screaming in anger. And the water keeps rising in the boat, the waves keep crashing over the side, the bailing is completely useless. The only realistic conclusion is: “we’re going to drown!”
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”
The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”
This particular story is present in all the first three gospels, and while Luke introduces it just by saying “one day”, Mark tells us that it was the evening of the day when Jesus had been teaching all day, including the parable of the seed among the soils which we studied two weeks ago and the parable of the lamp which Brian talked about last week (cf. Mark 4). Taking that time reference, we start to understand a little bit more about what is going on. Jesus is wiped out from teaching, needs to get away from the crowds so He can recuperate, has professional fishermen among His disciples and thus access to their skill and boats, so away they go.
The particular lake mentioned is the Sea of Galilee, a large and intimidating body of water. Because of its geographical location, it is easy for storms to come out of nowhere and be quite violent. Jesus crashes in the back of the boat, worn out, and He entrusts the journey to His disciples who are literally in their element and their comfort zone. So really, what could go wrong? The storm comes, and it is a lot like what you imagined, and the Bible tells us, “They were in real danger”. This isn’t “made up” danger, this is professional fishermen freaked out danger. And, by the way, where is Jesus? Sleeping. Doing absolutely nothing.
The Modern Storm:
I think there are people feeling like this all around us. Probably even some here this morning. Life is crashing in. We feel battered, soaked, exhausted, overwhelmed, with no end and no hope in sight.
Some feel that way economically and financially – it is out of control, and will take just one “big wave” to sink the whole boat. Some feel that way emotionally – too many problems, too many ropes pulling in too many different directions, one more tug could tear it all apart. Some feel that way relationally – family is just too darn hard, all over the place, and it feels like one person in a puny boat in the middle of a raging sea. Some feel that way spiritually – like life is raging, “we are going to drown!”, and Jesus is off sleeping away in the back of the boat, not even lifting a finger to help.
Waking Up Jesus:
In the story, the disciples finally turn to Jesus. How long has the storm been raging? Long enough… they probably thought they could handle it on their own. Rely on themselves, their skill and experience, ride it out, without ever bothering Jesus. But only when it gets really bad do they turn to Jesus and wake Him up.