Summary: Sermon preached July 13, 2003 for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost.
There’s a story that illustrates what we learn through this morning’s gospel reading very well and I struggled with all week to decide how to use it, or even to use it at all, but I decided to use it and tell it in two parts because it seems to really illustrate so well what we’re about to hear this morning. The scene is a hospital waiting room. A family is sitting in that waiting room, late at night, waiting for any news on their 17 year old son, who has been injured in an automobile accident. The son is in very critical condition as he is brought into the hospital and is currently undergoing surgery for his life threatening injuries. His family is Christians. As they wait, time seems to stand still, they feel absolutely helpless. They ride the roller coaster of silence and emotional outburst. One moment, the room is so quiet; you could hear a pin drop. The next moment the room is filled with uncontrollable crying, sobbing, and anger. They lash out at the drunk driver that caused this accident, leaving their son fighting for his life. This family is all alone in that hospital waiting room. We will come back to them in a little while.
Storms and severe weather have a way of leaving us in awe, and also fear. I was thinking about that this week, as I was coming home from visiting my grandmother in Winterset on Wednesday evening, and as I was leaving Winterset, the sky which had become dark with clouds suddenly lit up with bolts of lightening. I pulled my car off to the side of the road to watch that powerful lighting display and I was simply amazed at its power and also how hard the rain was coming down and the winds were blowing. Lightening is awesome, and fun to watch, but it can also be deadly and destructive. If you’ve ever seen lighting strike, you know it’s pretty scary. Just as a thunderstorm, ice storm, snowstorm, windstorm, tornado, and any other type of severe weather can be hard to survive and bring fear when we are caught in them, we have stormy times in our lives as well. Our gospel lesson for today describes a brush with death the disciples had at the hands of a mighty storm.
Although the disciples feared they might perish, they received help and deliverance from that storm-and miraculously so. This morning, I’d like for us to take a look at the meaning of this portion of Scripture by considering two questions: How do the storm and the attitude of the disciples relate to our lives? And through this crisis, who did Jesus show himself to be for us?
Jesus had been in a boat by the shore of the Sea of Galilee and had been teaching to a large crowd that had assembled by the shore. As evening comes, Jesus says to the disciples that they should go to the other side of the sea. Our text says they took Jesus just as he was which would lead us to believe that they didn’t make any special preparations for the trip across the Sea of Galilee. We can also assume that this meant Jesus was very tired from the day’s events, as we read a few verses later he is asleep in the boat. Either way, they probably assumed it would be a short trip across the sea and rather uneventful. The Sea of Galilee is situated in a basin, where cool air from the Mediterranean Sea is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes and that cool air clashes with the hot, humid air that is above the lake, which makes the Sea of Galilee very susceptible to sudden and violent storms. So it’s easy to assume that it appeared as is if it was going to be smooth sailing for this trip across the sea. However, once they got out onto the sea, things changed very suddenly. A furious storm comes out of nowhere, and the waves are breaking over the boat and that the boats were nearly swamped. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, when your boat or canoe is swamped, its full of water and about to sink or turn over, which is dangerous of course because the occupants of the boat can get trapped underneath the boat and the water and drown. Needless to say, things were not looking too good for the disciples and Jesus, and the disciples were in a panic, they were scared to death, thinking they might very well die out there on the sea that night. And what’s Jesus doing this whole time? Jesus is in the stern of the boat, sleeping on a rower’s cushion! Somehow or another, he was able to sleep through this whole storm! He’s finally awakened by the disciples who ask him “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”