As some of you know, the business career I recently left to enter into the ministry full time required me to travel quite a bit. In the last ten years of my business career I traveled just about every week. I was on an airplane two to three times a week. My jobs have required me to travel throughout the United States as well as Europe.
Now during my travels, I have had some pretty bizarre happenings on airplanes. I remember on one occasion the pilot made an approach to land at LaGuardia Airport in New York. All was fine as we started our descent. I could see the runway when all of a sudden the pilot aborted the landing, pulled the throttle back and we shot back up in the air. He banked the plane hard to the right. He turned so hard that I thought the wing of the plane was going to touch the water and I would soon be swimming in Long Island Sound. After about five minutes the captain made an announcement that another plane had turned onto our runway.
Another time I took off from Milan Italy flying on a very small thirty-five-seat commuter airplane over the Swiss Alps on my way to Geneva Switzerland. As we took off we entered into some very heavy clouds. We started bouncing around in that little plane. The plane shook, rattled, rocked and rolled as we flew through a storm. The flight attendants didnât even get out of their seats. I knew it was going to be a bad flight when I saw one of the fight attendants get out her airsickness bag.
The pilot didnât speak very good English and my Italian wasnât too great either, but from what I gathered, he was trying to get us out of the storm by lowering the altitude of the plane. We kept going lower and lower and I thought for sure we were going to eventually end up in the side of a mountain. Suddenly the clouds broke and as I looked out of the window of this little thirty-five-seat airplane I saw cows grazing on the side of a mountain. They were so close that I could tell they had already been milked that day. When we finally landed in Geneva, all of the passengers broke into a round of applause.
Throughout all my travels, and all of the close calls I have experienced, I have always had faith in the pilots. Iâve had faith, but you know never once have I looked into the cockpit and seen the pilot sleeping. I donât think thatâs something they normally do. Maybe John Bell can tell us if they do sleep up there. But in this morningâs Scripture lesson, we have Jesus, the pilot of this boat, so to speak, asleep in the cockpit. And I am sure that didnât give the disciples a very comfortable feeling.
This morningâ Scripture lesson comes from the Gospel of Mark. We will stay with Mark for the next several weeks. Todayâs story is about faith and where we place our faith. Itâs a wonderful story that I am sure each of us can relate to and learn from. Now next weekâs sermon is, well next weekâs sermon is just soooo wonderful that I canât even begin to describe it to you. I guess youâll just have to come and hear it for yourself.
Our story for today is the first of a series of four miracles recorded in this section of Mark. This is also the first of four boat crossings recorded in Mark. We are told that Jesus and his disciples had spent a very long day teaching by the lakeside. Mark tells us in the opening of this chapter that Jesus had been using parables to teach many things about the Kingdom of God.
There were so many people who crowded around Jesus on the shore of Lake Galilee that he had to get into a boat and go out a little distance from the shore to continue his teaching. We can just imagine Jesus sitting in this boat with the crowd all sitting on the beach listening intently as he spoke. Perhaps a few of the people even waded out to get a closer look at this wonderful teacher who had come to visit their village that day.
Now when the day was over, and the sun was beginning to set, Jesus said to the disciples, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." Perhaps Jesus needed to escape the crowds for the evening so he and his disciples could get some rest. Or maybe he was finished teaching on this side of the lake and decided to begin fresh in the morning on the other side of the lake. As they began to leave the crowds on the shore, other boats on the lake began to follow Jesus and his disciples.