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Sermon on Mark 4:35-41

Mark 4:35-41

Pastor James F. Wright

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
St John Lutheran Church  
Champaign, IL

Sun, Jul 13, 2003 

The Disciples were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!" vs. 41

On vacation recently I visited a state park built in the 1930's. In the middle of the park was a chapel with a cross on the steeple. At the front of the chapel was a prayer thanking God for creating the beauty of the forests, and addressing Him in the name of Jesus Christ. It must be the best-kept secret in Michigan.

There was a time a generation or so ago when t seemed like everyone was either a Christian or knew what it was to be a Christian. Churches were full. It seemed all you had to do was put up a sign, knock on some doors, invite your friends and neighbors, and churches almost started themselves. People in our country had a sense of God almighty. If they chose not to believe in Christ as Savior, they were respectful of the Christian faith. The leaders of the community were churchgoers, and one of the most respected vocations in society was that of the minister. Movies, books, and television shows were careful not to offend their Christian audiences.

How different it is today. The people we work on the job with, live next door to us, and pass us in the shops at the marketplace may know nothing about Christianity. They may pray to a God by the name of Allah, or Krishna, or worship the earth itself, as one nearby community recently experienced with a school of the Wicca religion.

The idea of one faith being true over all others is suspect today of extremism. A close friend may reply to our heartfelt witness of faith, "That's good for you to believe, but I have my own beliefs." Even in Christian families, children who have been baptized, catechized, confirmed and communed may wander from the Christian faith and confess another world religion that stands in direct contradiction to the faith of the family they were raised in.

I believe it was with an eye to time like this that God caused our text to be recorded. Jesus and his disciples went out onto a great lake in a boat on a calm day. A storm came up and blew so hard that even tough old fishermen were afraid of drowning. Jesus merely got up and said, "Be still!" and it was calm again. Everything was okay.

This was recorded so that we might be able to answer the disciples question every day. "Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?" He is Jesus, the Son of God, the creator of the earth and the universe.

Is Christianity just one among many religions? This passage says loudly, "No. There is only one true faith among many false ones."

Jesus gives no room to false gods. When God gave us the Ten Commandments He said, "I the Lord your God am a jealous God." He who made us has a right to be jealous when we fail to acknowledge Him as our Maker.

The Bible continually warns us to beware of false Gods. While the greatest minds today are finding it hard to say that everything evolved out of nothing by chance, they will not acknowledge the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the force behind creation.

Our age has its own gods Just look at what people rely on to save them when they are in trouble -- their own wits on the stock market, their ability at work, the image of worldly success projected by the car they drive and the house they live in, or the success of their children. The problem with these gods is that they are false. By themselves they cannot save or bring contentment. And yet to attain and hold on to them requires all of one's attention, resources, and strength. Can a house, car, career save you from eternal death? God has a good reason to be jealous.

It was to this world that God sent His Son. He came into the world not to condemn it for its idolatry, but to save it from itself. He gave his life in exchange for the idolatry, so that if anyone saw past the false gods that the world gathers around and looked to Jesus, they would be spared from the destruction that is coming. Our faith is not one among many, but the only true faith among many false ones.

This story of Jesus calming the sea we also see that Jesus helps people in His own way and at His own time. When the waves were pounding the boat and the wind was pushing it everywhere, Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat. He allowed the storm to frighten his friends so that they would realize just how much they needed Him.

After he calmed the storm they were still afraid. He asked them why they still could not believe. What would it take to convince them?

We might ask ourselves that question. When God points out our reliance on the things of this world, what will it take to teach us to rely only on the grace of God?

Thirdly, we see how God answers our prayers. We might think He is sleeping and does not hear us as we pray for something again and again. But He has said that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There is only one Lord who is above all other Lords. To His name all the angels in heaven, all the saints on earth, and all the dead beneath the earth bow and acknowledge as supreme--the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The stilling of the storm is only a small expression of the power his name holds.

That name of Jesus will open our graves and raise us upon the last day, and bring us into that everlasting city of light. No other name has such power.

It is a difficult time we live in today, with people calling on many Gods to help them. We boldly remember and proclaim the name of Jesus as the only true Savior. Not only the wind and waves obey him, but the whole earth and all the stars of the sky as well.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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