Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (B) 2015

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Mark 4:41
Theme: “Who Is This?”

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

Jesus was sleeping. The common connection most immediately made with a slumbering Jesus recalls the charm of His infancy… “The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.”1 But this Jesus was a grown man. Aside from relaying to us the plain details of the account, the fact that Jesus was sleeping reminds us of His humanity. Jesus Christ did not have the appearance of a man only. He experienced fatigue. He became hungry. He thirsted. He was tempted. He endured afflictions common to humanity. Your Saviour is not the Son of God in human fa├žade. He is the Child of the Virgin and the new Adam.

Jesus had had a long day teaching the crowds. The disciples were sea-faring men. This was an opportunity for Jesus to rest. But soon trouble arose. The Sea of Galilee is infamous for sudden squalls that put sailors, crew, and passengers at risk. Few things are more terrifying than being at the mercy of a perilous sea. The boat was soon taking on water and was becoming swamped. The panicked disciples quickly woke Jesus, questioning His apparent indifference at the hazard which had engulfed them. Their faith was anemic and forgetful. They would soon be admonished.

Oh, dear friends, how closely- if we are honest- can we relate to the disciples on the turbulent sea! Our faith too, is so easily afflicted with amnesia. Long before a single hair on our head has been singed worry overcomes us. We forget that the ever-present and always watchful Lord attends us. We seek to rouse Him from His slumber. We raise accusations of apathy. We claim a reversal of the order of Gethsemane where the disciples could not keep their eyelids open to watch with Jesus for a single hour. How close we are to the unbelievers the Psalmist speaks of who said, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed.”2 In such moments of doubt we learn something about ourselves as sinners.

Before the disciples are chastised the architect of the universe speaks. He rebukes the wind and the waves and the Scripture says there was a great calm. The contrast with the storm was astonishing. Chaos was quenched. His command over the forces of nature evokes stunned fear from the disciples. Mere words cannot relate what that ragged band of fishermen experienced. But the Holy Spirit uses such words to further the cause of faith. The great question seized them: “Who is this Man?” Is it safe to be to near to Him? Is it wise to be too far from Him? They were stricken with awe.

Turbulent water usually has biblical associations with demonic and uncontrollable power. Moving water is an immense and unmanageable force. But today the disciples witness the Master of the elements. Miracles are evidence of Jesus’ divinity. A God who is incapable of miracles is a God who is not omnipotent and is really no God at all. God is not a projection of collective human consciousness. He is not a fabricated image of knowledge and holiness. He is not the motionless backdrop for the stage on which human history is played out. He cannot be domesticated. He is living, dynamic, and powerful. He intervenes. He initiates, orchestrates, administrates, and terminates. He is the giver of life and punisher in death. The miraculous involves transgressing the laws of nature. But these are the laws which He created.

Jesus’ opportunity to rest was cut short. As soon as He stepped off the boat on the other side of the lake He was greeted by a man oppressed by evil spirits. So numerous was the cadre of demons they were called Legion. When Jesus sent them into a heard of pigs that ran off a steep bank and were drown in the lake, it caused a great commotion among the people of the town. When they came to investigate they found the formerly possessed man sitting calmly; in his right mind. The One who had calmed the wind and the waves also silenced the demons. Their reaction to this great stillness was these same as that of the disciples; fear.

Godly fear is a component of faith that leads to repentance. It consists of reverence, respect, and awe. Carnal fear involves the terror of unbelief and avoids contact with the Almighty. Of course, we know that God can only be avoided at the risk of great peril. Departure from the will of God eventually has very tangible consequences. The Ten Commandments were carved in stone. Christ re-iterated the moral code of love, confirming its permanence. True love has boundaries. These boundaries serve the well-being of others. God’s laws protect people and property from exploitation and abuse. Sexual relationships that deviate from God’s design are, by definition, harmful to individuals and society. In our current social climate Christians need the confidence of knowing God’s truth does not change and our consciences can be at peace as we remain faithful to Him.

Dear friends, every relationship a Christian is involved in is governed by the unconditional love of Christ. Human relationships do not determine our relationship with God. God defines the relationships we have with others. Your baptism is of more importance than your image in society. Your place in Christ’s holy church is of greater value than the assessment of your peers. Your concern for peoples’ souls is driven by your own identity in Christ. Who is the Commander of the wind and sea? He is Light, Love, and Life.

Evil never sleeps until Christ puts it to rest. He silences the loudest shouts of Satan. Christ silences the stinging accusations of guilt that agitate our consciences. He calms the tempestuous heart being tossed to and fro on the sea of human opinion. He puts to rest all anxiety that is faced in this mortal life. He promises calm to His people who dwell in a restless and chaotic world. He provides peace for those wearied by the daily battle with sin.

The God who controls the wind and waves is the same Redeemer who endured cross and shame. The greatest display of His power is revealed in His immeasurable mercy. He sacrificed His very life that we might live. The cross became the Creators throne; the cold, dark tomb His royal bed. His sleep of death was short but revolutionary. The resurrection validated His victory. The biblical witness assures you that your darkest fears and deepest desires are not beyond His capacity to understand or resolve. In Christ there is always hope. The scripture says, “Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”3 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”4 The storms of life cannot pull loose the anchor of God’s love.

Jesus no longer sleeps. His exalted humanity shares so completely the divine nature He possesses the ceaseless vibrancy of life. He intercedes tirelessly for our good. He prepares a place for us; a refuge eternally secure from any tempest. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
21 June, 2015
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Lutheran Hymnal, #634
2 Psalm 94:7
3 Romans 5:5
4 Hebrews 6:19