PENTECOST 4, B – June 21, 2015

 SCRIPTURES – Job 38:1-11; 2 Cor. 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

 

A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 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. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” They were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

 

Did you notice that there is a question that is asked twice in today’s readings? That question is: Who is this? In Job 38 God asks it of Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Then, at the end of our Gospel reading, the disciples ask, “Who is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” Following our readings, then, let us ask – and answer – the question: Who is this?

 

As God is the first one to ask, we begin with His question: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” This question of Job is one that you need to ask of yourself every now and then. “Who am I?” It is important to keep the truth of the answer before your eyes and in your mind and heart.

 

Who am I? You believe in Jesus as your God and Savior and so are received by God as His child. But, you are also weak and mortal, both in body and in mind. You are subject to all of the trials and tribulations that occur in this fallen world. I really don’t need to list the trials and tribulations for you; you know them quite well. Just this week we see Christ’s people:

  • Shot and killed while in the midst of Bible study. What did those members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC do to deserve that? Well, like Job centuries before: nothing! Their sufferings were not the result of their sins, but came because we live in a world that is filled with sinners. The sufferings that sinners cause will at times fall upon us.

  • Christ’s people also end up widowed and elderly and needing to move from the homes they have lived in for decades, as Marie Russo is now doing.

    Although you believe in Jesus and are God’s child, you are subject to all of the things – some deserved, some undeserved – that happen to everyone else in this world. As a sinner, you will also bring sufferings and punishments upon yourself. And when, like Job, you cry out in your pain, “Why is this happening, Lord? Why are You allowing this?” realize that God may not give you an answer. Or, if He does, it may not be to your liking. He is God, after all, the One who knows not only the cause but also the end of all things and whose wisdom is beyond our understanding. Next to Him we are, as Job confesses in answer to God, “small” (Job 40:4), even “dust and ashes” (42:6). If you judge God, then, according to human wisdom and standards, you are being foolish and unjust. You will only find your confusion growing and your trust weakening. It is vital, then, that you say, “Who am I?” and humble yourself before the Lord.

     

    How important it is, then, that we move on to consider the question that Jesus’ disciples asked, “Who is this [Jesus], that even wind and sea obey him?” As we consider what we see of Jesus and ask this question, we see that this Jesus of Nazareth is far more than just a man. What man can stop a storm simply by saying, “Peace! Be still!” What man can cast demons out of a man whom no one else could control and restore him to perfect health, as Jesus did for such a man who met Him when the boat He was in arrived at the shore? What man could raise to life again a young girl who had died, as He did a few days later? What man could create enough food to feed thousand’s from five loaves of bread and two fish? What man could walk on water, as Jesus did the next time His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in their boat?

     

                Some people have concluded that He was an amazing magician. Others view Him as a mighty prophet, a man whom God worked through more than anyone before Him or since He lived. God does not allow such answers, however. His Word tells us that twice – first at His Baptism and then at His Transfiguration, when Jesus began shining like the sun – God Himself spoke from heaven and said, “This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” God calls us to listen only to Him. By directing us to Jesus, then, He is proclaiming Him to be God. Jesus stated this Himself a number of times.

     

    And yet, there He is, in the boat with His disciples. Although He is asleep and seemingly unconcerned, He is with them. He is subject to the same storm that threatened and terrified them. He is asleep because He was exhausted from serving people all that day and helping them in their need. And, even though He rebuked them by asking them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” He still remained with them. In fact, He went on to lay down His life for them – and for us all – on a cross.

 

What does this mean for you? When you are hurting and struggling and confused and you ask yourself, “Who am I?” remember that in Christ you are accepted in your doubt and weakness. Jesus in one who willingly travels with sinners! But, He urges you to trust Him. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Rest your faith upon Him. He will bring you to His desired destination and your trial to His planned conclusion.

 

He will, because you are recipients of God’s peace and favor in Christ. When Jesus commanded the storm, “Peace! Be still!” He was speaking also to His disciples. God’s peace rests upon you in Jesus. When you are suffering it is not because He is angry with you because of you sins and punishing you for them, for Jesus bore them and their punishment for you upon the cross. He ended their punishment with His death and triumphed over them by rising from the dead and ascending to His Father’s right hand. Be at peace, then. Although you will face many struggles in this life and at times bear difficult burdens, your Lord and Savior hears your cries. He will rise and save you, at the time and in the way He knows is best.

 

This means that you can again ask yourself, “Who am I?” and confidently answer, “I am God’s child. He is with me, and I am loved and blessed, and will be forever!” You can claim as true for you the words that David wrote in Psalm 139, words which you should memorize, that they might calm and guide your mind and heart. Psalm 139 says:

     O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways… You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

     Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in the depths, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand [Christ!] shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you…

     Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior and our heavenly Brother. Amen.