Teacher, don't you care?

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“Teacher, don’t you care?”

Mark 4: 35-41, Sermon 3, Question Mark?

 

Jesus had been teaching by the lakeside – and crowds upon crowds were with him and the disciples. He had been sitting in a boat on the edge of Lake Galilee – so that he could speak clearly and be heard clearly.

 

Jesus has been asking the crowds to think about what the Kingdom of the Living God might be like… we have a great drawing of a King: from last Sunday!

 

Jesus says that to live in God’s kingdom is to have God as the King!

That means to live according to the King’s instructions

 

… and his disciples are to live trusting that if they are his subjects and plant spiritual seeds that he gives, they will grow into a safe place for the birds of all the air – all nations are to be included

 

Jesus is exhausted at the end of the day

Jesus knows the disciples are too – so he sends them – his instructions – across the lake to have some quiet space away from the crowds.

The Lake is not very large, and the other side is quieter. It is about 6 miles across the lake, and for fishermen this is not a big deal.

The disciples don’t think anything special of it – this is Jesus’ idea after all! So they set off…

 

There is an interesting eyewitness detail in verse 36 that other boats are with them too – for those who question the reliability of the gospel accounts, perhaps this will give you confidence?

And Jesus lays his head down on the cushion in the little seat in the stern, the back of the boat; this is reserved for distinguished guests

A carpet and a cushion would have been there – and the boat captain would have been further forward in the boat

 

The Lake of Galilee is set below sea level, and set in a ravine – and valleys concentrate down on this small area – so that winds from surrounding heights including Mount Hermon can descend – and the focus on a small lake of water causes a sudden storm

 

But Jesus was the one to set them off on the journey!

 

The violence of the storm is described in Greek in Matthew’s gospel account of the same story as seismos – it was like an earthquake!

 

We can imagine the waves crashing over the boat, and the fear of the disciples – they would have been shouting over the sound of the water, bailing water out with whatever vessels they had to hand, some would have been battling with the oars – the wind is ferocious – the little boat is creaking

 

And Jesus is asleep!

 

This is the only reference we have in the Gospels to Jesus being asleep. Mark has the little eyewitness detail of Jesus being asleep on the cushion of the helmsman. Why is he asleep?

We can only assume Jesus is exhausted.

Genuine humanity in Jesus of Nazareth – he knows what it is like to have had a long day, and crash out.

And then awoken by the disciples who are absolutely afraid. It must have been a really serious storm for the experienced fishermen to be so frightened.

Their words to Jesus are short and sharp:

 

Teacher, don’t you care?

 

So when Jesus has been woken up he speaks to the storm – and says

 

Be quiet! Be still!

 

The Greek words are spoken with the same authority as those he has recently spoken to the evil spirit in Mark 1 v 25. It means literally:

Be Muzzled!

 

The effect is immediate – and the storm ends – the wind comes to rest – and there is a great calm

 

The disciples are completely awe struck

Before this they were afraid – now they are terrified – verse 41

‘stricken with a great awe’

 

Their fear of the storm has been replaced by a new wonder about the person in the boat –

Who is this?

Who is this? Not only evil, but now wind and waves obey him!

In this series of sermons, we are asking questions

 

The disciples were wondering … Who on earth is this? That winds and waves obey him?

Jesus asks them “Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?”

I am sorry to say here, that I do identify with the disciples – Jesus is present – but the events are so troublesome that human fear takes over – and we assume the worst – and catastrophize

 

Here are some things to ponder

and I say them slowly because I am not sure which part of the story is most important for each of us here

I am sure that God has something in this TRUE story for every one of us …

 

Firstly, it was Jesus’ idea to go in that direction, the disciples were being obedient – and the storm still came

 

If you are in the midst of a storm right now, of any sort, that may be an encouragement – that you are not in the wrong, but you are in the right place, and the storm is not your fault at all

 

Secondly, Jesus has experienced the fullness of our human life – the theological word is INCARNATION – which we speak about in the babe of Bethlehem, but here Jesus is, completely exhausted after a working day!  And asleep on a cushion.

 

In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews (4:15) says this:

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weakness, but one who has been tested /tempted in every way just as we are, yet without any sin.

 

So whatever we are going through right now, have faith that Jesus understands, and can be with you in it – including being exhausted

Thirdly, Jesus is discovered to be much more than Jesus of Nazareth – he has power over evil, and power over nature –

The disciples are just beginning to see glimpses of his power, and are completely overawed

If you have had the experience of seeing God at work you will know how it makes you feel – and think – awestruck, humbled, silent inside … my experience since coming to Whitewater

 

My prayer is for all of us – more please! – so that we see you, Lord, as you really are!

We are so limited in our appreciation of all that is true about God

 

Fourthly, the disciples first thinking is that Jesus does not really care about them, the storm is so severe

 

Lord, don’t you care if we drown?

They just assume that this will be the outcome - drown

They question whether Jesus cares about their wellbeing

They doubt his care

They doubt his ability to save

He is present – but not active

 

            What a powerful word,

Especially if we are suffering

Teacher, don’t you care?

 

And Jesus says….to the disciples …

 

Why are you so afraid?

Do you still have no faith?

“Be still” says Jesus to the storm, and it is silenced.

I am going to end now with a prayer – if we are going through it – in any way at all – let’s pray that we will know God’s peace in our storm, and find faith in our situations

 

Jesus has been human and understands our human life

Jesus sends us, and sometimes that does mean right into the middle of a storm, we are not off track, but right on track

Maybe in the midst of a storm is the only place where we will have eyes to see God at work bringing peace

 

I am challenged in my faith – in challenging situations not to look down in hopelessness – but to see Jesus standing in the midst of the boat and commanding stillness

 

The disciples were awe struck – Lord, may you open our eyes to who you really are – that we may trust in you and not doubt the fact that you do care for us – all the time, in the teaching, and in the middle of storms.  May we know you as our peace – and trust you as the Lord of all. Amen

 

Marion de Quidt, June 2015

 

Thank you to authors for resources used for this sermon:

The New International Version Study Bible

William Barclay – New Daily Study Bible - Mark

David Hewitt – Crossway Bible Guide - Mark’s Gospel

Pheme Perkins – The New Interpreter’s Bible - Gospel of Mark