Sunday, January 31, 2010
Rough Waters Sermon Part 1
16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. 19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles,[a] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
I can hardly watch CNN anymore. Every day Anderson Cooper is down in Haiti with a bunch of reporters. Every day there is another story of the aftermath of the earthquake that is simply heartbreaking. A little girl that is an amputee, but still cannot find her mother or her father. A group of senior citizens at a nursing home taken outside of their collapsing building, set on their beds, and then left to fend for themselves. Some of them senile. Most of them incontinent. All of them alone. The staff went to find their own grandparents, to tend to their own children, and find their own shelter.
Some stories are more hopeful. A young girl rescued from the rubble after two weeks. A middle-aged woman rescued after being under a collapsed building for over a week. As she is pulled out of the rubble, given a drink, and put in a stretcher you can hear her voice. “God is good. Praise God. God is good. Praise God.” She cries. I don’t know if I have that kind of faith or that kind of witness. This woman did. And millions of people heard her witness.
Much of our lives are a result of the decisions we make and the attitudes we have. But there are many situations that seem outside of our control. I can’t control when the earth is going to shake. I don’t have any power to solve the problems in the Middle East. I hear prayer concerns from many of you, and I have no power within me to help make you any better. I wish I had that power, but I don’t. So I pray. I love. I hope. And I keep marching on.
In those situations, it is easy to be a little afraid. A little nervous. A little anxious. Especially when we are personally involved in those situations.
I can be high strung at times, but I am generally not an overly anxious type. Since Jennifer has gotten pregnant, I can see myself at times being more and more anxious about things. Recently she had a test that said we had a 1 in 250 chance of a certain kind of birth defect. There is a 99.6 percent chance that the little one is completely healthy. Still, until the high tech ultrasound next month, that concern is going to be in the back of my head.
After seeing a Ford Explorer turned over on the side of the road coming home from a meeting in the Springs on Thursday, I told Jennifer we needed a 20 year old Suburban with its own zip code in order for our child to be safe. Or a Hummer. You never know when some drunk driver is going to come squealing around the corner. I want to be prepared.
Let me get back to these thoughts in a moment. Let us look at the Scripture text for this morning.
In the beginning of Chapter 6, before we get the feeding of the 5000, the chapter begins with John telling us that the Passover holiday was approaching. There is a reason for this. John wants us to remember the Passover, and to put what Jesus is doing in that context.
When Jesus takes 5 loaves and two fish, and feeds 5000 people in the wilderness, the people want to make him king. We did not get much into this last week. Why did they want to do this? Because he could do miracles?
The answer is Yes and No. Yes he could do miracles. And many were impressed. But it is also the kind of miracle or sign he performed. He provided bread in the wilderness. What is this reminiscent of? It is to remind us of the Exodus. Of the manna that fell from heaven to provide for God’s people as they wandered in the wilderness. They think Jesus is the new Moses. The new deliverer. He is. But he is not going to be put in their box and expectations. His mission is bigger than military conquest.
So he send the disciples out on the water. He sends them out in a boat. The disciples try to make their way from Tiberias to Caperneum over water by rowing a 20 foot skiff with 12 men inside.
Now you need to know this. Jews were not keen on sea travel. The Pheonicians, just northwest of them, were known throughout the ancient world as men of the water. Jews were men of the land.
Hebrew superstition held that the sea was a place of chaos. The believed that under the water was an untamable place full of all sorts of unpredictable evil and uncontrollable powers. It was where everything bad resided. There was one time where Jesus healed a demon-possesed man. The demons asked if they could go into the pigs on the hillside. Jesus permitted them to do so. The pigs ran headlong over the cliff into the Sea of Galilee. Why? Because that is where the evil spirits went. Underwater.
The water could be a fearful place. The Sea of Galilee is especially fearful. Not much larger than Crater Lake in Oregon and or Blue Mesa Resevoir near Gunnison, though it is wider. During the day you would be able to see from one side to the other. At night, especially without modern electricity to light up cities, it was hard to see where you were going.