Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/05/14 Sermon - Mercies in Disguise

“Mercies in Disguise”

Mark 4:35-41

  Today’s Bible passage is one that I imagine everyone in this room can relate to and should listen to carefully, because the end result could save you a great deal of angst. I don’t care if you have ever been in a boat or not, or whether you have been in a storm that was so bad you feared for your life. Today’s Scripture will most likely hit home for most of you in one way or another. I calculate that in a room with this many people, I am going to be speaking to the majority of you when I start talking about storms in your life. As I have been getting to know you all personally, I have heard some of your life stories and have heard of many storms. And based on the average age of the people in this room, it is a given, that the more years we spend on earth, the more chance we have of having storms.

And let’s say by some miracle you have not had any storms in your life, I dare say you have a family member or friend who has. Today we are going to begin to understand, along with the disciples in this story, exactly who Jesus is, what kind of power Jesus has, how He chooses to use that power and how we should turn to Him and that power for peace.

 

If we were to look at this story metaphorically, and compare the events that happen in our lives today, to the storm these disciples went through, I think we would find many similarities.

 

So that is what we are going to do.

 

First let’s look at what is happening in today’s Scripture.

 

Remember, the crowds, Jesus had been teaching and preaching to, had grown so large and had been so intrusive on Jesus’ life space that he asked the disciples to secure a small boat for him to stand in while he spoke to the mass of people?

Well, the end of the day has arrived and Jesus tells his disciples they are going to the other side of the lake, or the Sea of Galilee. Notice, it reads that they leave the crowd behind, but not everyone fits in the boat Jesus is in, as we read there are other boats traveling with them.

 

This information along with the particular Greek word for this type of boat, indicates that they are traveling in a small vessel which can only hold but a few people.

 

Okay, do you get the picture?

Jesus has just spent the entire day in front of a crowd of people, who have been pushing towards him, straining to touch him, wanting to be healed by him, an absolute desperate crowd.  The sun is setting on the water and Jesus decides the best way to get away from the crowd is to go to the other side of the lake. If he is traveling in the small boat, then only a few people can actually be near him. He can possibly get some rest. I looked it up, and the entire trip should have taken about 2 hours.

 

But we read in the next line that up comes a furious squall,

One so bad, that the boat has become swamped.

 

Apparently the Sea of Galilee is known for this type of storm. Without warning the clouds form, the rain begins and before you know it, the wind is whipping around so badly you can’t even hear yourself talk.

These next verses about the disciples sound so much like me I hate to admit it.

 

We read the disciples look over to see what Jesus is doing and probably to get some direction or hope and what do they see, they see him, sleeping, with his head on a pillow, in the back of the boat. Now remember, these are aged fishermen and you may not be surprised that the direct translation of what they asked Jesus, would have been something like this,

“What the ‘bleep’? Don’t you care if we drown?”

You know the feeling…. the look….the FEAR!

Now we are talking immense fear. These guys think they are going down. This is the kind of fear that is so intense the first emotion to come out is ANGER!  

Let me try to explain it another way.

It is like the mother who tells her children to not go into the street, because she is afraid they may get hit by a car. The children are playing ball and someone kicks the ball into the street, and without thinking, one of them runs out to get it, just as a large truck is coming down the road. Tires screech, the mother screams, races after the child, she catches up with her and the child is standing there with a big smile on her face and holding up the ball as if to say, “I got it. Aren’t you proud of me?”

Does the mother pick up the child and hold her and hug her and give her kisses?

Or, like my first instinct, does the mother, who just had the fright of her life, envisioning the death of her child, grab the child by the arm, drag her to a safe place and then with one hand on her hip and one with a finger pointing two inches from the child’s face, does the mother begin to read the child the riot act while she is panting deeply and feeling her heart beating in her head?

I think you get the picture.

Here we have grown men who are fishermen, have made their living on the Sea of Galilee and the storm has pretty much sunk their boat. That means they have been some time, fighting the storm on their own. Until, the boat is so full of water, and they realize they can’t do it on their own. Then a bell goes off in their head, oh yeah, Jesus is here. Where is he? Why isn’t he helping? They turn around and not only is he not helping, he is sleeping.

They are petrified they are going to the bottom of the sea, and Jesus, who has been saving the crowd all day, is fast asleep.

Do they go to Jesus and put their arms around him and say “We are so glad you are here”?

Or with fear in their voices and anger as their responsive emotion they approach Jesus with their demanding question.

Now look at Jesus’ response.

He sounds a bit human here too.

Now mind you, he has just been woken up, or perhaps one the disciples has shaken him awake. He couldn’t have been rested and if he slides off the bench he is sleeping on, he will come knee deep in water. His disciples have asked him a question in a tone that is probably not very endearing and without saying a word to his disciples the passage reads, “He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!”

The moment he spoke, it happened!

The sea was completely calm.

What do you think is going on in Jesus’ mind?

It is recorded that Jesus then admonishes the disciples by saying, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

It may have been said with a bit of disappointment in his voice. Jesus has been trying to explain who he is and what he can do for two years now. And his closest students still don’t get it. Now you might think at this point the disciples are like wow! Jesus is amazing! But after Jesus calms the storms the disciples become even more afraid. They are in awe of who Jesus is. They just can’t seem to wrap their brains around it. They begin to ask each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him.”

Exactly.

That IS who Jesus is.

There is nothing created that God does not have control over.

Remember, God created EVERYTHING!

Fast forward to today. Has Jesus changed? Is He still able to calm the storms?

The answer is “yes”.

God is the same, today, yesterday and always. Hebrews 13:8.

God hasn’t changed.

In our passage, what needed to change was the understanding the disciples had of who Jesus was? They hadn’t even begun to comprehend the power of Jesus, and when they did see it, they were awed.

We are no different today. We limit God in so many ways.

I have a poem written on the inside of my Bible that I found while reading a Decision magazine, while I was a missionary, in Bolivia. Before I read it I would like to share some of the things that were going on for me at the time.

 

 

Ø  Chronic headaches,

Ø  first time away from America,

Ø  truly on my own

Ø  alcoholic parents who didn’t know how to show they cared

Now if you have ever been in a chronic pain situation, that no one can find a problem, much less a solution, you will understand the first part of this poem, it reads….

Lord,

I crawled

Across the barrenness

To you

With my empty cup.

 

Uncertain

But asking

Any small drop

Of refreshment.

 

 

If only

I had known you better

I’d have come

Running with a bucket.

 

Something like this could have been going on in Jesus’ head when he woke up. He probably looked at the disciples, heard their whining and thought, “If only you knew who it was you were talking to. You just don’t get it, do you?”

 

There’s another piece of this story that is so like us. So often, when there are difficulties in our lives we chose to fight the storms with our own resources first. Like the disciples, we rely on our own, knowledge or power, until our boat is so full of water and we are about to sink….

Then we turn to Jesus.

And we get mad at him, because we think he has been sleeping and he obviously doesn’t care, right? If he did, he wouldn’t have allowed our boat to be so swamped, or have so many bad things to happen to us at once.

Or would he?

I believe it is again, a matter of perspective.

God’s perspective, not ours.

You see, we often look at the trials that come our way as hinderances, bothersome, not supposed to be there.

Which really doesn’t make sense if you think about it.

We live in a world where Satan and his angels are alive and well.

That right there should give you a clue that bad things are going to happen.

Also, we tend to forget in the day to day happenings, that this is not our home.

Heaven is our home.

And Jesus started out his ministry stating that heaven is near, not here.

This side of heaven, we will have trials.

And the odds are against the fact that our troubles are going to spaced out evenly so we can conquer one before we get another. What usually turns out is we barely get one trial before two or three more show up and before we know it, we are swamped. And all awhile, what have we been doing? We have been either sitting there complaining, or we are bailing with a cup when we could be using a bucket.

The reality is, trials exist.

We can either choose to look at them as water that is swamping our boat, or we can look at them as an opportunity to see God work. It didn’t take long for Jesus to calm the storm. What if the disciples had chosen to wake Jesus up as soon as the storm began?

What if they said, “Hey Jesus, would you join us here?

What if their attitude had been, “Jesus, I need you next to me as I weather the storm.”

Each one of us will face storms. And each one of us has a choice to either face them on our own and cuss our way through them, or we can, in faith, ask God to join us. To put his arm around us and carry us through and use the circumstances, good and bad, in our lives, to His Glory.

That is exactly why Jesus came to earth in the first place.

And today we are going to celebrate that visit by participating in the Lord’s Supper. And I would like to make it clear, that no matter where you are today, or what is going on in your life or your mind. You are welcome to participate in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. This is an opportunity for us to take our storms, the very things that drag us down and destroy who were made to be, and bring them to the cross, drop them there, and leave them there as the burdens they have become.

And when we remember what Jesus has done in order to take those burdens from us, we are able to no longer see them as burdens or trials, but as blessing or mercies in disguise.