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The Lord helps us trust in Him

Matthew 8:23-27

Pastor David Ernst

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jan 30, 2022 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We conclude today the season of Epiphany. Formally, the season ends on the second day of February, with the Presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem, 40 days after his birth, according to the customs of the Jews. But, we are leaving a very big manifestation of divinity for next Sunday, the Transfiguration.

Let's review the parallels between the Old Testament reading and the gospel for today. It is important, because our Lord called his resurrection on the third day “the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:40), because Jonah remained three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish.

1. The big storm that came up when Jonas was sleeping on the boat.

2. The great storm that arose when Jesus was sleeping in the boat.

3. The fear of the sailors, also of the disciples of Jesus.

4. God's power over natural forces.

However, Jonah was not the same as Jesus. Jonah, the son of Amitai, is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. The village of Gath-hefer in Galilee, in the tribe of Zebulun, was his hometown. The period in which he lived was roughly that of the prophets Amos and Hosea in the northern kingdom and Isaiah and Micah in the southern kingdom. Jonas is like the main figure in certain novels, an "antihero." He is a Hebrew who fears the Lord that he can and does confess as the almighty God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land, and yet tries to flee from his presence. Tartessus in Spain, one of the westernmost cities of the ancient world and always considered to be situated on the very edge of the inhabited area of ​​the earth. There was trade with Tartessus due to its metals and fine soil products.

Jonah also confesses that the Lord is a kind and compassionate God, slow to anger and full of love. And he nonetheless prefers to die rather than see the wicked men of Nineveh repent and avoid God's judgment. The name Nineveh was applied to a complex of four ancient cities, including Nineveh proper, that lay between the Tigris River. The total length of the composite city was about 40 kilometers, while its width was 24. At that time it had more than half a million inhabitants. As the capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh represented the pride, power, and brutality of the kingdoms of this world and was a threat to God's people.

God used Jonah's disobedience as a learning opportunity for him and the ship's crew. Jonas had the opportunity to compare his indifference and hostility to Nineveh with the sailors' concern for his life, and the sailors are able to learn about the true God through Jonah's confession of faith and God's control over him. the sea.

In the same way, Jesus used the storm to increase the faith of his disciples. Jesus had told the twelve shortly before that it is granted to them to understand the mystery of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11). The disciples had seen many miracles of Jesus, but they did not have the greatest degree of confidence in Jesus Christ.

The Lake of Galilee is about 200 meters below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Mount Hermon, 2,800 meters high, is only 38 kilometers to the northeast. When westerly winds coming down from this mountain collide with warm air over the lake, sudden and violent thunderstorms sometimes occur. The ship had been prepared by the disciples according to previous instructions, and when He entered, the men who were closest to Him, the inner circle of His followers, embarked with Him. Exhausted by the intensity of the physical and mental effort of After a hard day's work, Jesus went to sleep, relieved by the sliding motion of the boat. Suddenly, with great suddenness, the waves surged up on all sides, rising high above the ship, obscuring it, crashing over it, gradually filling it with water, the quantity of which defied all efforts to rescue it.

The dialogue that follows is interesting. It appears that the disciples had enough faith to ask Jesus for help, based on the miracles they had seen. However, they were terrified for their lives and did not seem to have a clear idea of how Jesus could save them. Jesus shows his divine authority by doing what only God can do. At the sound of his voice, an obedient silence fell over the turbulence of the winds and waves. His human voice, by virtue of the divine power and majesty given to his humanity, controlled the forces of nature. Because being able to calm the sea and make the wind stop with a word is not the work of man; It takes divine power to stop the turbulence of the sea with a word. Therefore Christ is not only natural man, but also true God.

“What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” They knew it, but it is easy to answer this question correctly sitting in an armchair, it is totally different when he is in trouble.

To deny the existence of miracles in the nature around us is to deny the evidence of all the senses and the results of centuries of research. And to deny the miracles of the Scriptures is to deny the truth of the entire biblical account. To separate the miraculous element from the Gospel accounts is to remove the essence of the Gospel narrative. Jesus' miracles were seals, credentials, because they were signs, essential marks, of his mission.

Still, the disciples learned to trust Jesus completely, even when physical death seemed imminent. Later they would learn to believe that with Jesus there is hope of life beyond death. The Lord was patient with them, but he used the trials to strengthen them. It is the same with us. Neither Jonah nor the apostles were perfect followers of Jesus, and neither are we. But through the Holy Spirit, in the Word and the sacraments, God prepares us to face the difficulties in our lives, even life-threatening situations. Because we know that even beyond death, we have the promise of eternal life. In that we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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