Our Storm God Savior
A sermon based on Mark 4:35-41
Sunday, June 28, 2015 – Pentecost 5B
Odysseus longed to go home. He'd been away for far too long. He wished to see his wife and son again and to hold them in his arms. But he couldn't. You see, he'd angered one of the most powerful gods, Poseidon, the brother of Zeus and Hades. He'd blinded Poseidon's Cyclops son and thus earned the god's hatred. So whenever Odysseus tried to sail home, Poseidon would rise from the sea, and with trident in hand, do all he could to stop Odysseus from getting home, whipping up huge storms to drive the poor man's fleet far away in the opposite direction, delaying his return for many years.
You can read the rest of the story in the Homer's classic tale, The Odyssey. There you can read more about the adventures of Odysseus and his men. And there you can read more about the storm god, Poseidon, the god of horses, rivers, earthquakes, and most notably, the god of the sea.
But this morning, we hear about the one true God. We hear about Jesus, the true storm God, who has the power to stir up storms and calm them in an instant. Jesus is the true God of the Sea, and of the air and of the earth of the heavens and of everything in them. He makes Poseidon look like a wimp in comparison. But he doesn't use his power to destroy mankind or drive us far from home. Rather, he uses his power to comfort and calm and to bring us safely home. This morning, we hear of our Storm God Savior and how he calms the storms of our lives, but more importantly, how he calms the storms of our hearts.
Our text for this morning is found in Mark 4:35-41…
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 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?"
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
Where'd the storm come from? Some suggest it happened naturally, that the wind kicked up and got caught in the bowl the Sea of Galilee makes in the hills. That happened quite often. Others suggest that satan caused it, pointing to the fact that the words Jesus used to rebuke the storm are the same words he used to drive out demons. But others suggest that Jesus himself caused the storm. And they suggest that he may have done so for two reasons. First, he may have wanted the storm to prevent the "other boats" of the crowd to keep from following him, like the a car in a high-speed chase might intentionally crash into food carts or even other cars to create obstacles in the path behind him to evade a pursuer. Others have suggested he caused this storm, just to show them that he could stop it.
Now I don't know how the storm began because the Bible doesn't explicitly tell us. But I have no problem with suggesting that Jesus may have caused it. He is God. And he could whip up a storm in his sleep far easier than an imaginary Poseidon ever could. But I do know that he would use it to teach his disciples—and us—a lesson: That He is our Storm God Savior…
I. Jesus Calms the Storms of Our Lives
Ever been out in Kachemack Bay, Tustemena or Skilak Lakes when a furious squall kicked up? Ever been out on the boat seriously wondering if you would make it back to shore alive? Has the thought ever crossed your mind, "I wonder if they'll ever recover my body or if it will go down to Davey Jones' locker and be forever lost at sea?" [Greg? Daniel?] If so, then maybe you can put yourself in the disciples' sandals here.
Even though they were experienced sailors, this storm had them nearly swamped. They didn't think they'd make it out of this one alive. They thought for sure they were going to drown.
And where was Jesus during all of this? Asleep in the cuddy cabin! In their terror the disciples went to him, woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
Really? They wanted to know if Jesus cared? They accused him of apathy toward their lives?! This was the one who came to earth for the very purpose of rescuing their lives from hell and they dared to accuse him of not caring about them?!
But of course Jesus cared! And he would demonstrate his care and concern by quieting the storm: He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Of course, for us, hindsight is 20/20, but can we really blame the disciples? Well, yes and no. Yes, we know how foolish it is to question if Jesus really cares. But no, we can't really blame them because, well… we do the same thing.
"Jesus, why can't I have a special someone in my life like so many of my friends have? Don't you care?" "Jesus, why would you let me lose this job?! Don't you know I have a family to provide for? Don't you care?!" "Jesus, why would you let this painful health problem into my life? Why would you let this diagnosis happen? Don't you care?"
But of course Jesus cares! "But if he did," you ask, "then why doesn't he quiet the storm in my life?! Why doesn't he tell my problem to be still?!" Friends, if you doubt that Jesus cares about you and your life, quit looking so closely at you and your life. Instead look to the top of a hill called Calvary. And in your minds eye picture him beaten and bloodied, being tortured to death by a crucifixion he volunteered for to rescue you.
Literally the disciples asked, "Teacher, don't you care if we perish?" But you know that Jesus was the one who perished for us that we might live. He perished on the cross, enduring the hell of being separated from his Father, so that we will never perish in hell, but will live forever with him in heaven. He died that whoever believes in him will live even though he dies!
Jesus may not calm every storm you have in your life, but he has already calmed the greatest storms we might face of death and hell. We don't need to be afraid of dying because we know that when we do, we will be with him in paradise!
"Jesus, don't you care?" Of course he cares! Look no further than the cross to see the proof!
But for the disciples, Jesus calming the storm didn't calm them. Instead, they were still terrified!
II. Jesus Calms the Storms of Our Hearts
Why so afraid? They knew Jesus was God! "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" they cried. Clearly he had the power of Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades put together! But they also knew their own sin. They knew they had not always done right by God. In an instant he could send a storm to swamp the boat again. Or he could wait until they reached dry ground only to have the earth open and swallow them whole. Or he could hurl lightning bolts from heaven and strike them down in a way that Poseidon never could as he tried time and again to destroy Odysseus.
And again, hindsight is 20/20, but I'd be willing to bet that if you were one of those disciples that day and you saw the Almighty God standing in front of you, or worse, on your little boat, where you had nowhere to run and hide, and you knew that he could see your every sin, your every act of rebellion, your every impure and indecent thought, you too would be terrified.
But their terror came from a misunderstanding of why Jesus had come. He did not come to control and manipulate mankind like the Greek or Roman pantheon of gods came to do. Mankind is not the plaything of the gods. Rather Jesus came to rescue us from the fate that we all have rightly earned. He came to rescue us from Hades—not the god, but the place.
And Jesus wanted them to know that he was not there to terrify them, but to comfort them. So he asked, "Why are you so afraid?" not as a scolding rebuke, but in loving comfort. Not, "Why are you so afraid?! Do you still have no faith?!" But, "Why are you so afraid? Do you really think I'm out to get you? Do you still not get it? Do you still not understand? I'm not here to hurt you, but to help you." I don't think Jesus was angry at their terror, but saddened by it as he longed to help them.
Right now, they viewed Jesus as the God-man who could destroy them. But soon they would learn to know him as the God-man who had rescued them—from the storm and from their sin. Soon they would understand that Jesus was not an angry judge wielding the law in one hand a lightning bolt in the other, but that he was a loving Savior, bringing them the Gospel of salvation for all of eternity.
And with that understanding, Jesus would calm the real storm—the storm of their hearts. And Jesus still does the same for us today.
Now, I know some of the struggles that some of you are going through. But I don't know all of the struggles you're going through or any of the struggles of some of you (except for those that are common to all sinful people). But I do know this: Jesus knows. And I know that Jesus cares. He cares so much that we would leave heaven itself to come to this sinful, pain-filled world, to endure a struggle that is far greater than any of us ever will or ever could suffer or even imagine, to endure a pain that is far worse than anything any of us will ever go through. And he did it all willingly and gladly to save us from hell. Jesus cares. And he gives you some amazing promises in the midst of your suffering:
He promises that, "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) He promises that, "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) He promises that, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:31) He promises that,"neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Jesus may not calm every storm you have in your life. He may let the relationship crumble. He may let the disease linger. He may let the pain continue. But let these promises that he gives calm the storms you have in your heart and give you peace, even while you endure the suffering these storms bring. For you know that Jesus is not out to get you. He's not here to hurt you, but to help you. So don't be afraid, but trust our Storm God Savior.
Odysseus was running from Poseidon because he knew Poseidon would destroy him if he could. But we can run to our true God, knowing that our Storm God is our Savior, who certainly cares about you, who loves you more than you can imagine, who can calm the storms of our lives, who will—always—calm the storms of our heart. In the name of Jesus, our Storm God Savior, be at peace. Amen.