The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 27, 2021
The Lord of Creation is the Lord of My Life!
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As you look back over the course of your life, what has scared you the most? Some of you might answer that question by referring to the fires that have ravaged northern California over the past few years. While I can only imagine how frightening it would be to flee from a wildfire, I have heard from a number of people just how scary it is! Others might answer that question by referring to an illness or an injury that they or someone they love has experienced. Again, while I can only imagine how frightening a serious illness or a major injury can be, I have seen and heard first-hand accounts from others.
Personally, the scariest thing I have ever experienced in my own life is Hurricane Andrew. I naively stood outside and watched as this Category-5 storm came barreling toward us. I sat in a closet with some friends and listened as the howling winds literally tore apart the house. I saw the absolute devastation that the storm left in its wake. Hurricane Andrew was by far the scariest thing I have ever experienced!
As you look forward and try to peer into your own future, what might you be afraid of encountering? Would it be loneliness? Would it be failure? How about illness or injury or death?
If we had an opportunity to ask Jesus’ disciples what event scared them the most, they might point to the event that is recorded here in our text for today— the day that they were afraid that they were going to perish at sea. If we were able to go back in time— let’s say to the day after Easter— and ask Jesus’ disciples to peer into their future and share with us what might scare them the most, I am confident that they would say, “Nothing!”
What would explain that dramatic change? One answer would be the truth that Jesus’ disciples learned the day they were sailing across the Sea of Galilee. As we study this text let’s see how that truth is summed up in these words: The Lord of Creation is the Lord of My Life!
The basic details of the event recorded here are very simple. After Jesus had spent the day teaching a crowd of people that was so large that He “got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge” (Mark 4:1), Mark tells us, “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’” As Jesus’ disciples were making their way across the Sea of Galilee, suddenly “a furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.”
Even though a number of Jesus’ disciples were experienced fishermen who had undoubtedly been caught in more than one storm on the Sea of Galilee, the fact that they were out in this storm at night together with the fact that the waves were so big and so strong that they were filling the boat with water— all this completely overwhelmed Jesus’ disciples with fear! After doing everything they knew how to do in situations like this, the disciples finally went to Jesus— who was sound asleep in the back of the boat!— woke Him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” What did Jesus do? He did something that His disciples never even imagined! Mark tells us, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
While Jesus’ words and actions led His disciples to ask, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” this event ties in very well with our Old Testament lesson for today (Job 38:1-11) and reminds us that Jesus is the Lord of Creation! As the God who created the heavens and the earth (See John 1:3) Jesus has complete power and full authority over all of His Creation! Think of how important that is for us to remember, my friends. Jesus has complete power and full authority over every storm, every fire, every drought, every earthquake— and every hurricane! This truth was impressed on me in a very powerful way as I tried to find shelter from the wrath of Hurricane Andrew by hiding in a closet. For the hour and a half that we were huddled in that bedroom closet I turned to Jesus and prayed— for windows! I was convinced that if the good Lord granted my prayer— we would all be safe. When we finally walked out of that bedroom, I instantly said a prayer of thanks! Why? That one bedroom was the only room in the entire house that still had windows and a roof! Every other window had been blown out. Every other portion of the roof had been torn away.
An incident like that makes us wonder: How many times has the Lord graciously given us “windows and a roof”— even when we haven’t asked Him? How many illnesses, how many injuries, how many “accidents,” how many “storms” has the good Lord prevented from even entering into our lives? How many times has the Lord of Creation placed His almighty hands over us to protect us and keep us safe and we didn’t even realize it? While we obviously can’t answer questions like that, we can thank Him for all that He so graciously does for us!
What about the times when the Lord of Creation has allowed a “storm” to engulf our life? We all know people whose home was destroyed in the fires. We all know people who had to evacuate their home because the fires were getting so close. We all know people who have endured illness or injury. We all spent many months in lockdown because of the pandemic. Why does the Lord of Creation allow things like this to happen?
Since we can’t even begin to read God’s mind, we can’t even try to give specific answers to questions of “Why, Lord?” We can, however read what God has revealed to us in His Word. Let’s go back once again to Job. Job is described as a man who was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Why did the Lord of Creation allow so many “storms” to come into Job’s life? From our perspective I think it is pretty clear how God used those “storms” to show Job and to show others— including us!— that our faith and our trust in God is more important than anything else on the face of this earth. Or look at the example of Paul, the human author of our epistle lesson for today. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) Paul prayed to the Lord three times to take away his “thorn in the flesh.” What was God’s response? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
While both Satan and our old sinful nature try to convince us that every “storm” we encounter in our lives is God’s punishment for our sin, Scripture assures us that they are wrong! The cross on Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) guarantees to us that God’s punishment for our sins has been paid— in full! Yes, there are some sins that can bring with them physical consequences— such as substance abuse or sexual sins. But we do not want to confuse the consequences of our sin with God’s punishment for sin. Even the consequences of sin can lead a repentant child of God back into the safe forgiving arms of the heavenly Father. Think of the Prodigal Son! (Luke 15:11ff) We also need to remember that the simple yet undeniable presence of sin in this world and in our lives can serve as a very powerful reminder to us that: a) We need God! and, b) we don’t want to live here on this earth forever. In fact, the longer we are here on this earth and the more we have to deal with both the reality of sin and the effects of sin— the more eager we are for the Lord to take us home to heaven!
Once we recognize that Jesus is the Lord of Creation then it is so very easy for us to see that Jesus is the Lord of our life! Unfortunately, our own weakness can lead us to get in line with Job and with Jesus’ disciples and ask, “Lord, don’t you care?” When you are having family problems, do you ask, “Lord, don’t you care?” Whenever any tragedy or hardship or any hurt impacts you or someone you love, whenever we are facing any “storm” in our life, the question can come up, “Lord, don’t you care?”
That’s when the Lord of Creation comes to us through His holy Word and Sacraments and says to us— “Of course I care! I am the Lord of your life!” As proof of how much He cares the Lord of Creation willingly left heaven and came down to earth. Here on this earth the Lord of Creation took our place. He felt the pain and the sorrow that is a part of our life. He faced the fears and the temptations that terrorize us. And as Paul reminded us this morning, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yes, my friends, every time we lift up our eyes to this cross (Pointing to the cross) we are assured that the Lord of Creation is the Lord of our life! He cares for us more than we can imagine. He cares for us in ways that we can’t even see.
As you look back over the course of your life, what has scared you the most? Whatever it might be, the Lord of Creation has obviously kept you safe! As you strive to peer into your own future, is there anything that you are afraid of encountering? If so, look at God’s track record and remember what He has already done for you! Lift up your eyes to the cross and see how much He was willing to do for you! And then remember! Remember that the Lord of Creation is the Lord of your life!
To God be the glory!