5th Sunday of Pentecost
Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, Faith is only as good as its object. You’re driving your car down highway 2 and you’re out in one of those stretches between any towns where the speed limit is 65 mph. You’re sitting in an airplane flying across the country on a vacation. You’re riding one of those carnival rides set up down at Paul and Babe. When you do any of those things you are putting a lot of trust in certain things. In the carnival ride you’re putting trust in the person running the ride and in the equipment that it will hold together and you won’t be injured. When you’re flying in an airplane you’re putting a lot of trust in the expertise of the pilot and in the mechanics of the aircraft. When you’re driving down the road you put a lot of trust in the brakes on your car that they won’t fail you when need you need them.
But because we live in a sinful world faith and trust can be misplaced. History teaches us that each one of those things have the potential for failing us, for not coming through for us. Brakes fail. Planes crash. Rides break down. Finally, the inevitable result of misplaced trust is fear and desperation. And it’s usually times of danger or disaster or suffering that teaches us the inadequacy of placing our trust in things that could fail us. So how do you get through life? Do you never drive a car because the brakes could fail? Do you never fly on a plane because it could crash? Well obviously the answer is no. But it does teach us something about where we place our trust first and foremost.
This is what Jesus taught His disciples and what He teaches us today in our text. The time when this account occurred was fairly early in Jesus public ministry. He had called His disciples to follow Him and had promised to make them fishers of men. On this particular day Jesus had spent most of the day teaching and preaching to the crowds. In order to make it easier to speak to them Jesus had gone out into the lake of Galilee on a boat. This provided a nice amphitheater-like setting for Jesus to teach the people crowded on the hills around the shoreline. When He was finished Jesus told the disciples, “Let us go to the other side.” So the disciples took Him in the boat and no doubt Jesus who is both true God and true human was tired from teaching people all day long so He went to sleep on a cushion in the boat.
Now the Sea of Galilee is located in kind of a basin area. The sea itself sits rather low at about 700 ft below sea level but the edges around the lake are high. So what often happens is the cool air from the mountains will come down into this basin and clash with the hot humid air over the lake and sort of create a cyclone effect over the water. The storms on the Sea of Galilee usually turn out to be both sudden and violent. Well it was one of these such storms that caught the disciples when they were sailing across it. Imagine being there with waves of water smashing against the sides of the boat so hard that the water is beginning to swamp the boat. Now the disciples were experienced fisherman, they knew that lake, no doubt they had been in storms before, but none ever quite like this one. After expending all their efforts and ingenuity to rescue themselves and at the point when they felt the situation was about hopeless and they’d die, did they turn to Jesus and say, “Don’t you care if we drown?”
Think about this for a moment. Now if Jesus allowed them to be drowned here, how could He fulfill His promise to make them fishers of men? If Jesus allowed the storm to drown them, how could He complete the plan of salvation? And isn’t it just typical that in the midst of this disaster instead of trusting in Jesus, they try everything on their own first and when it all fails who are they left blaming? “It’s all God’s fault. He doesn’t care about us.”
So Jesus got up and said, “Quiet! Be still!” And immediately everything was completely calm. The wind and the waves must obey when its Creator speaks. What power and might our Lord Jesus has! And yet, even after this great miracle the disciples were still afraid and still filled with doubt so Jesus said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” And they were still amazed, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
The disciples trusted in Jesus, they did end up at the last resort looking to Him for the help they needed. But it wasn’t until after they had already exhausted all their own efforts at remedying the problem. There’s a lesson here for us too, isn’t there. God has never promised us smooth sailing on our journey through life. In fact, there will be disasters and difficulties, troubles and trials as we forge through our lives. We could certainly face a catastrophic disaster at any time: our home could burn down, a tornado could rip through Bemidji, we could get into a terrible car accident. But perhaps more often our disasters are more subtle: perhaps we’re uncertain about the direction of our country, perhaps we’re disgusted with the increasing immorality of our society, perhaps we nervously face increasing costs, lower income, an unstable economy, a faltering health. We face these things, but where do we turn? Our own ingenuity? Our own efforts? Our own plans and devices to remedy the situation? And when those don’t work where do our thoughts go? “Where is God? Is He sleeping? Has He abandoned me? Does He care about me? Has He given up on me? Left me alone?”
The disciples reaction makes a little more sense when we examine our own lives, doesn’t it? You see, God hasn’t promised to remove the troubles and disasters of our lives or even end them. But what has He promised? He has promised us His presence and guidance and aid to get through them. He has promised the outcome and end of our journey. He has promised to be with us no matter what and for us that is enough, that is all we need to know. For who is He? He is the One who calms the forces of nature by saying the words, “Be still.” In ancient times there was a certain Persian king by the name of Xerxes who actually had the sea whipped because of a storm in which he lost a number of his ships. What good was that??! But Jesus says the word and the wind and the waves must obey. Why? Because of who He is. He is the almighty and powerful God. By His Word the forces of nature must obey. Simply by controlling the wind and the waves Jesus shows that He has far more power than any earthly ruler or king or governor or president. Even in the darkest periods of our own lives, even in the harshest and roughest periods in our country’s history and in the world scene, Jesus is still in control. So as we go about our daily activities and we hear about wild-fires in Colorado, changes in our health-care system, or even terrible weather, we have absolute confidence that our Savior remains in control and not only knows what is best for us but also has the power to control it. No matter what disasters we face in our own lives or in the world around us we trust in our Savior’s power, we trust in His almighty care, we place our confidence in Him.
Finally why can we do this? For the very same reason why Jesus was in that boat out on the lake in the first place. Why was He there? Why was He on a boat caught out in the middle of a lake in a terrible storm? Why? Because He came in order to face the ultimate disaster in life. Not a storm on a lake, but the devastating disaster which faced each one of us. He came to this earth in order to suffer the worst disaster possible, He came in order to suffer hell. And He did. He came to this earth, lived here, sailed on boats here, with the express purpose of going to that cross in order to suffer the worst danger and disaster for us in our place. He did so by taking upon himself all of our sins, taking upon Himself the full punishment of each and every one of your sins and paying for them in full! Jesus turned that disaster into the greatest good possible: winning you an eternal home in heaven! If Jesus could turn that disaster into the greatest good, do you think He can do that with the disasters we face in our lives? The answer is absolutely!
What extraordinary comfort is ours in this text! Still today Jesus, the Savior, the Almighty uses his strength and power for the good of His people and for their salvation. As long as we are in this world and as long as we have not reached our heavenly goal we can expect there to be storms and disasters and dangers and troubles. Our world is full of sin and will continue to be until the end of time. Sometimes, as we face disasters around us we may wonder if God cares or if He even notices our struggles, as the disciples did. But in His own time the Lord rises up and shows His might, rebuking our small faith and our great fear. And finally there will come a time when storms of life and the disasters we face now will all be ancient history. Our Lord, in His time, will finally calm all our fears and troubles and give us a blessed quietness when He takes us into our heavenly home for eternal peace and rest.
Let us place our trust first in the One worthy of our trust. So we check the brake fluid in our cars, we use our heads when we make decisions, we take care of our bodies as best we know how, but all the while we first trust in our Savior, we trust in His promises to us. Although we may not see Him He has promised to be with us always, although there may be times when it may not seem so, we trust His promise to work all things out for our good, although we may face death tomorrow or in a long time from now, we trust our Savior who will bring us one day to our eternal home in heaven. So we go about our tasks not knowing what tomorrow brings but fully knowing that the Savior who calms storms and disasters with His words is also our Savior and we trust in Him.
Maybe you were not pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling last week…but put your trust in Christ first! Maybe you’re not sure how you’re going to make it financially this month…put your trust in Christ first! Maybe you’re waiting to hear the next news about some medical trouble…put your trust in Christ first! No matter what happens or what disasters you may face, put your trust in Christ…first! Amen.