Sermon for June 24, 2012

Mark 4:35-41 (Fourth Sunday after Pentecost—Series B)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

June 24, 2012

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is from the Gospel lesson recorded in Mark 4: 

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

            My son has a game called, “Guess Who.”  It’s a plastic board with flip-up faces.  The object of the game is to “Guess Who” your opponent’s person is by asking questions.  “Does your person have brown hair?  Does your person have blue eyes?”  Based on the “yes” or “no” answers, you then flip-down the faces of the people until you eliminate as many as you can so you can “Guess Who” your opponent’s person is.  The Gospel of Mark could be considered a Guess Who-type of book.  It was written to tell us who Jesus is.  So we have the question presented to us this morning about Jesus, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

            We don’t often link “Jesus” and “obey” together.  We speak about obeying God’s commandments.  We think about obeying God because God is the all-powerful, holy God, creator of heaven and earth.  Unfortunately, we don’t always think of Jesus with those same terms.  But, Jesus is the all-powerful, holy God, creator of heaven and earth, who took on human flesh and became man.  He is the Second Person of the Triune Godhead who became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.  Too often, I believe, we fall into the trap of seeing Jesus only from the perspective of His humanity and not also from His divinity.  Jesus is100% true Man AND 100% true God.  And that’s a really hard thing to grasp. 

            It’s hard to grasp because we are used to humans.  After all, we are human and so we relate best to human images and ideas.  We understand farmers and seeds.  We “get” the contrast between houses built on sand and houses built on rock.  It makes sense to us that a person would get tired from a long, full day and fall asleep, even in the back of a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  We identify with the Man Jesus.  We can understand Him because He is human just like us, subject to all the things we are subject to—hungry, thirst, exhaustion, anger, want, need.  But to think of Jesus as simply human isn’t enough.  It isn’t Biblical, because this completely human Jesus receives obedience from creation itself.  Jesus has authority that is not the authority and power of people.  He has authority over creation because He is its Creator.  He is creation’s God!

            “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”  He is Jesus of Nazareth.  But He is more than that.  Wind and sea obey Him!  No human being, not even the greatest of kings or rulers, commands that kind of authority.  If we were in one of those boats during that major windstorm on the Sea of Galilee and witnessed the man Jesus, groggy from sleep, waking up completely and rebuking the wind and saying to the sea, “Silence!  Muzzle it!” what would you be thinking when the sea and the wind listened and obeyed?  You and I would also be filled with great fear, for before us clearly is standing not a guy like one of us, but the Creator, Almighty God, now Immanuel, God-with-us.  Who indeed is this who is Lord of creation?

            Now I need to take a moment to confess my sin to you.  I have to apologize for the graphic on the bulletin cover, the three lines of waves with the words “Peace.  Be Still.”  I didn’t check my Greek before I chose that cover, because if I had, those words wouldn’t be there.  Did you notice what words I used a moment ago, when Jesus spoke to the sea?   Listen again.  “And waking up completely He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Silence!  Muzzle it!”  Not really the same as “Peace.  Be still” is it?  In fact the word for peace isn’t in the text.  It’s the word for silence.  It’s the word for “Shhhhh.”  And the next word really doesn’t have much to do with stillness or calmness, although that was the effect.  Jesus told the wind and the sea to “muzzle it!” like we would put a muzzle on an animal.  I consider it the biblical equivalent to our “Shut up!”  So why would Jesus rebuke the wind and tell the sea “Shhhh, Shut up!”?  Maybe it was because the wind and the sea were the cause of Jesus having to wake up from His sleep?  Maybe He was telling the storm to shush so He could go back to bed?  I don’t think so. 

            Jesus had used this word before.  In Mark 1:23-27 we read, “Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have You come to destroy us?  I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’  And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, [muzzle it!] and come out of him!”  Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.  They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this?  A new teaching with authority!  He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’” (NASB)  Notice, the same words used of Jesus’ confrontation with the demons as with the storm?  Jesus both rebuked the demons and the storm.  He commanded both the stormy sea and the demons to “put a muzzle on it and shut up.”  And both the demons and the creation obeyed His Word. 

            Can there be any doubt that we are to understand that Jesus has divine authority over demons (a part of fallen creation) and over the storm (an aspect of fallen creation)?  What has Jesus, the Son of God, come to do in this world as He received our humanity into Himself?  He has come to be Lord over the fallen angels, Lord over the corrupted creation, and yes, Lord of sinful humanity. 

            Jesus, true God, humbled Himself and took on human flesh in His incarnation.  He left the glorious majesty of His throne in heaven to come down to His fallen, corrupt, and sinful world to rescue and to redeem. 

            First, the rescue.  Satan looks at the corrupt creation as his domain.  He considers himself the prince of this world.  He’s got things under his control, under the control of sin and death.  And what does Jesus, the God-Man do?  He comes to His creation and rescues it from sin, Satan, and death.  Between Mark chapter 1 and chapter 4, there are no less than four accounts that mention Jesus throwing out the demons.  When Christ comes, Satan loses control!  Christ rescues the people whom the demons possessed.  What’s more, Jesus heals those afflicted because of the corruption of creation.  He heals those who were blind, deaf, mute, and lame, all those suffering the effects of life in a world filled with sin.  Next Sunday, in fact, we will hear of Jesus rescuing a little girl from the grip of death, raising her from the dead with His simple, yet almighty words, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 

            Having infiltrated the devil’s domain, Jesus worked His rescue by casting out demons, by demonstrating His power of illness and death, by exercising His authority over the creation by silencing the storm to show us that He is indeed God and Lord.  But to complete that rescue for us and for all of creation subject to decay, Jesus also had to redeem.  Redeem means to buy back.  Jesus bought us back from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with silver or gold, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death on a cross.  “Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8)  With His death on the cross Jesus won our forgiveness.  His death forever defeated the power of death.  As we see Jesus dead on the cross, we must exclaim with the Centurion, answering the question, “Who then is this?” saying, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39)  Truly, Jesus Christ is Lord.  He is risen from the dead and He is Lord.  Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

            Who is this then, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?  Who is this then, to whom the demons submit?  Who is this, at whose feet sin and death lie conquered and defeated?  This is Jesus Christ the Son of God.  He is the living Lord over all things.  He is our living God, our Redeemer.  Jesus is our living Savior who has accomplished our rescue and our redemption.  To Christ be all glory and honor and praise, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, eternally one God.  Amen. 


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