Monday, February 3, 2014

Staying in the Boat

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:23:-27)
Grace, Mercy and Peace to You From God our Father and his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”
Last week we heard about the Centurion, the Roman Occupier of the kingdom whom Jesus praised for having greater faith than all he had encountered in Israel. This week we here Jesus chastise his own disciples for having little faith. Yet, Jesus still answers their prayers, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And in saving them shows who he it is they are following, and strengthens their faith.
The Sea of Galilee is picturesque, a huge lake nestled at the foot of grand mountains. From the shores you can see snow packed peaks atop the curtains of granite and limestone. The fields surrounding the lake are greener than you typically think of land in Israel. You get the feeling that when Moses sent Joshua and company to spy the land, it was here they ran into giants carrying clusters of grapes on a pole. But mountains and lakes make for erratic weather patterns and unpredictable storms. And the storms on the lake, the Sea of Galilee can be quite violent.
Our text tells us that the boat they were in was being swamped by the waves. Men were busy trying to bail out the boat that was taking on water as it was being tossed about by the wind. And Jesus is sleeping, calmly.
Sometimes it feels that way in the storms of life. You get a bit scared, all you can see is disaster ahead. And the storms come on quite quickly in life. Nothing can be taken for granted. Financial security, good health, a stable marriage, a steady job. Unforeseen and unexpected events in life, car accidents, layoffs, and disease can upset a peaceful life quite suddenly. And it can feel like you are sinking quite fast. Despair sets in. And you think you have to wake Jesus. Why is he sleeping?
It’s hardly fathomable that he can be doing this as the boat is taking on water and being tossed about. Where does one find a comfortable enough spot for it? For sleep? Who here hasn’t tossed about in bed for evenings on end with worry and anxiety robbed of peace? And with every waking moment it seems your bed is taking on water as the sheets drip with sweat, and you begin to believe you are going to drown?
It was just then that the disciples came to Jesus in prayer. They were not embarrassed. They were afraid. Jesus says they had little faith, but it was enough for them to know to whom to turn, the man sleeping calmly in the boat.
How could he sleep? Suppose he was just that exhausted. We forget sometimes that he was a man like you and I. He took on our flesh. And this wasn’t just for show. He had a body that required food, water and sleep. He had emotions and a soul that could be taxed and overwhelmed by the burdens of those whom he helped, as he walked from town to town throughout Galilee doing good. He needed time away for himself praying on the mountain sides. Time to recharge, contemplate and be refreshed by his Father. And he needed sleep. So he slept. And he could do this in a boat being tossed by a storm, because he knew that no matter how bad the storm he could not be tossed out of this boat. Neither did he worry for his disciples, those of little faith. They might be worried but he knew who was really in control of this world. He knew who had him, and who had, who has those he loves.
No, Jesus knows who is in control. It is him. The disciples had seen him cast out demons, heal fevers, clean lepers, and make the lame to walk, but now he gets up and commands even the winds to stop, and they listen. There is no part of this world that Jesus doesn’t have control over. He commands storms, and the powers of nature and they listen, and all the while he takes care of you and I of little faith saying, just stay in the boat and everything will be ok. Just stay in the boat, because this boat won’t sink. No, in this boat we ride out the storm with Jesus holding on to his word in prayer, holding on to his promise that nothing will snatch us out of his hand, knowing that no matter what happens to us in this world he is in control and he will see us through to the other side. Because this man, this man who sleeps exhausted in the boat, who had that body and soul that needed to eat and drink and sleep, this man that cured the lame and cleansed the lepers, he commands the wind and the storms, and he himself rode them out with us and tasted death for us, sleeping the Sabbath away that we might find our rest with him and our life in his resurrection.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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