Are You Perishing?
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A Boat Trip
Jesus had been teaching by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. When the crowds grew and gathered closer, Jesus got into a boat and went out a ways to continue teaching them. Evening came and it was time to rest. Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.”
It was not a strange request. Enough of his disciples were fishermen and had spent years on that lake, that the trip to the other side of the lake should have been no problem. The men were strong and confident in their skills and abilities.
A Great Storm
Then “a great windstorm arose.” “Waves were breaking into the boat so much so that the boat was filling with water.” All of a sudden, the men lost confidence in their boat and in their own skills and abilities. They knew they were no match for the storm.
At that moment, nothing else mattered – it didn’t matter who was the best fisherman, who owned the nicest house, who had save the most for retirement, or even who had attended the Synagogue most faithfully.
They recognized that they were all weak and frail in comparison to the storm. There was nothing else on their mind but survival. They were afraid and all other thoughts were whisked away by their fear. We might say that they were in a panic mode.
In their weakness, they turned to Jesus. They woke Jesus and prayed to him. Their words show us two things. The first thing we can say about the disciples is, ”O you of little faith.” They said to Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care.” We hear their frustration because they do not understand the action or lack of action on the part of Jesus. They do not know the outcome of this storm in their life.
Because they saw Jesus sleeping, they thought He had abandoned them. Because he had not already done something, they thought Jesus did not love them. Because they knew that they were weak and helpless, they were afraid that Jesus could not save them either.
A second thing we hear in their prayer is a cry for help, “We are perishing” they said. In the midst of their “little faith,” they begged him for help. In the midst of their fear, they turn to Jesus for salvation.
Jesus answered their prayer for mercy, he saved them from perishing. “He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” “The wind ceased and there was great calm.” All creation knows that he is Lord. Even the demons obeyed him when he cast them out of those who were possessed.
After providing salvation from the wind and the sea, Jesus confronts their lack of faith. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” With this true story from the life of Jesus and the disciples, we see the truth about our own lives.
Who Are We?
There is only one rebel in all creation who does not want to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. You guessed it, you and I are rebels. We have a tendency to travel through our lives, as though we were safe and in control. We depending on our own skills and abilities. Occasionally, however, we get a glimpse of reality, we find ourselves in the middle of a storm.
You drive along and hit a patch of ice, you find yourself out of control – the brakes don’t work, steering wheel doesn’t respond, and you are heading toward the utility pole. You go into the doctor’s office for a routine exam and the doctor says, “I don’t like the look of these test results.”
You fall down the stairs and can’t get yourself up. A shooter kills nine people in South Carolina. The death rate for heroin use in our community is alarmingly high. American soldiers die in foreign lands. Hurricanes, floods, forest fires threaten lives.
What can we do about all these storms in our lives or the lives of others? We are weak and helpless. Our skills and abilities are no match for the disasters that enter our lives. The closer these storms of life come to us the louder we cry out, “We are perishing.”
Easy To Question
The truth is we are never really in control. We are frail and weak. The strength, wisdom, and skill of man are nothing. Even when we are concerned with “practical things,” laying up treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy we are not really in control.
Through storms in our lives God teaches us that he alone is in control. Our Lord shows us how weak and helpless we are so that we know that without him we are perishing.
Not only are we unable to survive storms of wind and waves, we are not able to save ourselves from ourselves, The Lord stings us with the Law, he reminds us of our sins, our sinful pride, so that we know that we are facing death.
We must learn to pray with the disciples, “Lord, save us. We are perishing!” This is a prayer that should be on our lips every hour of every day. Without Jesus we would be overcome with sin. We are unable to save ourselves.
The disciples looked for Jesus and when they found him asleep they did not understand how he could not be concerned for them. They called to him that “They were perishing” as if he did not already know it.
When we are crushed by the Law or by suffering, we must look for Jesus. We will see him hanging on a cross. We cannot really understand why he was there. What help can he be if he cannot save himself from suffering and death?
We do not understand and we do not know how, but it is through the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross that we are saved from perishing. It is through his sacrifice that our sins are forgiven.
The resurrected Jesus stretches out his scared hands and says to us, “Peace! Be At Peace! Be Still and Know that I am your Savior.” How can we be sure that we will not perish. If we cannot understand, if our knowledge is not great enough then there is only one way we can be sure.
We live by faith and not by sight, not by understanding and not by intellectual knowledge. Our Lord Jesus has given us the gift of faith. Faith is the way that we know that we are not perishing. Faith is how our fear of death is taken away.
Faith is how we know that Jesus Christ has not forsaken us or left us to fend for ourselves. Jesus is not asleep. He is risen and he is preparing a place for you. Jesus not sitting idly by letting you be afraid. He has come today with his very body and blood so that you may know that your sins are forgiven and that you have the promise of eternal life.
He says to all your enemies, “Be still and know that I have redeemed these children, they are mine you may not have them.”
He says to you, I am the Good Shepherd, I laid down my life for you.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria