Summary: Jesus teaches the disciples that the Gospel is for everyone.
Last Sunday as we shuffled Mark and Barnabas, Peter, Paul & Mary around on this stage, we learned that the book of Mark is not only an account of Jesus’ life and activity, but it is also a blueprint for the church to follow, a model for carrying out the work of the church.
In Mark, you will find lots of interesting short accounts of Jesus’ activity, most of which you may have heard about before. Today we are going to start with one of those stories, then step back and take a look at what’s going on in the first half of the book of Mark. And while we are doing it, let’s put ourselves in the place of the disciples. So fasten your seatbelts, or better yet, better, your life preservers. You may have to row hard.
Three quick points from today’s text:
1. Jesus. The story says Jesus was asleep, but it was really the disciples who were sleeping. They had not been paying attention to Jesus. I think their eyes blinked open when Jesus calmed the storm. Jesus is really the pilot of the boat. He is the one who said “Let’s go” in the first place. He has authority not just over the boat, but also over storms that could sink the boat. He has the last word even in the storm. He is Lord. He is in control.
2. Disciples. The story says the disciples panicked. Why was that? They had their eyes on the storm instead of on Jesus. Just remember, you’ll be ok as long as you’ve got Jesus in your boat. He can handle any storm. God promised in Isa. 43, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. When you pass through the waters I will be with you. I love you. I am the Lord and besides me there is no savior.”
3. Boat. Remember that Mark wrote this some 35 or 40 years after Jesus left. Some scholars say that Mark intended the boat to represent the church. Think about the symbolism. In Jesus’ day, the sea was often understood as the realm of evil, under the control of the Devil. The storm represented adversity and violence. Christians were being imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith. When Mark was writing, Christians were asking, “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?” And the church sometimes worried more about its own survival than about doing the work of Jesus.
The story of this storm is just one small part of the big story in Mark. Let me see if I can paint some strokes on the big picture. This will work best if you follow me as we page through this section of Mark.
In the first two chapters, just after Jesus called his first disciples, Jesus started to train them by taking them on a tour. They probably had no idea of what to expect. They only knew they had committed themselves to follow him. Along the way, he added Levi, which caused some consternation. After all, look what kind of a guy he was. Have you ever heard people say things like that? “What kind of a church is that if a guy like that goes there?” And we are reminded again that the church is like a hospital. It is not where we show off how good we are. It is where we get healed. Then Jesus appointed all 12 of his disciples.