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Grab a Bucket, Jesus! June 24, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Mark 4:35-41

Proper 7

June 23-24, 2012

Focus: God is Creator and Ruler of all things.

Function: That the hearers look to Jesus for salvation rather than for a perfect earthly life.

Structure: Here is the prevailing view…here is the claim of the gospel.

 

Grab a Bucket, Jesus!

            Boats are an important part of our transportation.  Whether you’re talking about big military vessels or cargo ships, cruise ships or fishing boats, sail boats, rafts, jet skis, or any other, boats are important for the economy, for national defense, and for recreation.  And in the past couple of centuries, they’ve become a relatively safe method of transportation.  But that doesn’t always guarantee safety.

Now I don’t know about you, or what you’ve experienced, but I’m happy to say that my couple of experiences on boats so far have been positive, except for a little seasickness.  I’ve had fun and danger really hasn’t been an issue.  But that’s not always the case.  Every now and again we’ll catch a glimpse in the news about shipwrecks or people lost at sea.

And perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when we think of danger at sea is bad weather, and boats taking on water and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.  Hollywood and media have certainly portrayed that way.  After all, it was only supposed to be a three-hour tour.

In our gospel lesson today, we get Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm.  I think most of us could easily go through life not really seeing the full picture of what Mark is saying in this text.  For many, it’s just another miracle by Jesus, just another miracle the disciples expected Him to do.  Like it’s no different than when His mother expected Him to turn water into wine.

But let’s dig and discover.  First, we have the disciples and Jesus in the boat.  It’s late, and Jesus is tired.  So while the disciples man the boat, He goes for a nap.  It’s dark, and a storm is brewing and settling in over the lake.  The waters start getting rough as the winds howl, the rain pours, and the waves begin lapping up against the small boat and tossing it around.

Remember, many of the disciples were fishermen, so they knew how to behave in a boat during bad weather.  That gives credit to just how bad this storm was.  A furious squall, as Mark calls it.  Despite their knowledge and experience at sea, the disciples panicked.  They knew it would take everybody to stop this ship from being lost to the bottom of the sea.

So they grabbed their buckets, or whatever means they had, and they started bailing the boat out.  But they noticed that not all hands were on deck.  Jesus, their master, the One who had called them to follow Him, wasn’t helping.  So they went to Him.

“Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?”  A couple things here.  First, Greek has two words for “no” when asking a question.  “Ou” expects a yes answer.  But if you think it’s a no, you’d use “mh.”  Here the disciples use “ou,” they know Jesus cares.  And that’s the other part.  The “we” isn’t just disciples, but it also includes Jesus.  You’re on this boat, too; if we go down, You’re going down with us.

But here’s the disciples issue.  They don’t know who Jesus is.  This is a theme throughout Mark, that the disciples just don’t get it.  In fact, in his gospel account, they never get it.  The gospel begins by saying that this is “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  But Jesus isn’t called the Son of God again by anyone at any point until the cross.  Right near the very end, the centurion at the foot of the cross gets it.  He sees Jesus’ dying breath, the cry He lets out, and the temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom.  And he confesses, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

So in this text, we often think that the disciples woke Jesus up so He would take care of everything.  He’s God, He can fix this.  But that’s not what they were thinking or doing.  They didn’t yet understand who He was.  They didn’t understand what He could do.  And they prove that in their response at the end, “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

The disciples wanted help.  But it was an earthly help.  They were looking for every hand possible to pitch in.  They needed all hands on deck to bail out water, to steady the ship, whatever it would take to keep them alive until they reached land.  So come on Jesus, get up, grab a bucket, and help out!

Jesus didn’t need a bucket.  He simply gets up, commands the wind and the waves, “QUIET! BE STILL!”  And to the disciples’ utter amazement and terror, the wind stops, the waves stop.  Just as quickly as the storm rolled in, as quickly as they had panicked, Jesus calmed the sea.  Picture it in your heads.  Put the stormy sea, dark, roaring, in one image, and then right next to, a beautiful, peaceful sea.  A difference as large as night and day.  Completely calm.

Jesus’ words to the disciples are a little harsher than our NIV text reads.  “Why are you cowardly?  Do you not yet have faith?”  There’s a difference between fear and a coward.  Fear is something that many feel, some quite frequently.  But a coward makes fear part of who you are.  That’s belittling.  It’s harsh and insulting.

But after all they’ve seen Jesus do, they’re not getting it.  They’ve seen Him baptized and preaching.  They’ve seen Him cast out demons and heal all kinds of people from illness, leprosy, paralysis, and even a withered and decaying hand.  They’ve listened to Him speak in parables, and were then blessed with the opportunity to hear those same parables explained.  But still, they don’t yet believe.

The disciples see Him as a Teacher, Rabbi.  They see a prophet, perhaps a priest.  They see miracles, but they don’t put it all together.  Quite frankly, we behave this way, too.  We don’t see Jesus for who He truly is.  Nor do we get this text right when we try to make it fit our lives.

How many of you have heard that Jesus calms the storms in your life?  How many have heard that if you just believe in Jesus, you’ll live a good life on earth?  Perhaps if you’re good enough, Jesus will bless you with peace, wisdom, fame, and wealth.  It’s American Christianity to the very core.  But it’s not the truth.

As much as it’s hard to accept, Jesus doesn’t promise peace.  In fact, the opposite.  Jesus promises that those who follow Him will suffer and face persecution, imprisonment and death.  Just ask the disciples how their lives ended up.  Those who believe in Him and follow Him are not of this world, but the Father’s.  We, as God’s people are part of His kingdom, and our time in this life is short and not supposed to be great.

Interestingly enough in the text, nature, the waves themselves listen better than God’s people.  The waves, without ears, hear God speak, when we don’t.  We, like the disciples, need to see Jesus for who He really is.  He’s not the god of Americans, the god of prosperity who wants you to have a great life.  He is the God of all things.

We see it from the very beginning of Scripture.  In Genesis chapter 1.  God speaks things into existence.  Whatever God says is.  It happens.  And the message of Mark is that this Jesus, is the Son of God.  He is God.  All of the Father’s rule and authority is also in His Son.  This Jesus can command nature, He can speak and things happen.

So while we can’t expect Jesus to calm all the storms in our life, really, if anything, we are storm that needs to be quieted.  Grab a bucket, Jesus!  Well, He doesn’t need it.  Jesus Christ, our Lord, true God with the Father, rules with Him.  Jesus came, died, and rose again to quiet the real storm in this world.  The storm of sin and death that plagues us and all of creation.  Christ came and calmed it.  Sin has no more power over us.  It has no authority.  Christ does.  All authority on heaven and earth is His.  When Christ speaks, it happens.  Just as the Father does, He too can speak things into existence.  So when He says “you’re sins are forgiven,” they’re forgiven.  When He declares us righteous, as God’s holy people, we are righteous people of God.  And before the judgment throne on the Last Day, He will speak to God on our behalf and He will call us His.

 

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