Rediscovering Jesus - God at Sea — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Rediscovering Jesus – God at Sea — A Christian Growth Message

A series looking at our Saviour through the book of Mark, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth Podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 23 Apr 2023Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute


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Transcript:

Our Father, as we turn to this very famous and well-known section of your word, we pray that you would help us. We don’t deserve to hear from you. We pray that you would enable me to speak and teach faithfully, and we pray that you would enable us to hear and to see you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow more nearly. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, as we mentioned, we’re continuing our journey through Mark’s Gospel. Today we come to Chapter four, Verse 35 which is almost too well known. It’s the calming of the storm by the Lord Jesus in the ST Thomas Cemetery Rest Park. Down the road, there are some very moving memorials. Some of you know that last week I offered to take a tour to the rest park. I didn’t manage to enthuse the masses, and I’ve been telling people that it was just me and a homeless dog walking in the rain in the cemetery last week. Although that’s not quite exactly true. There were a handful, but we called it off because of the rain, and I hope we’ll do it another time. but one of the graves is for a lady called Mary Ann Stewart.

She was travelling by ship from Sydney to Auckland in 18 90 for the ship entered serious fog and tragically crashed into cliffs. Most of the people were drowned, and on her tombstone is a text from some 93 the text says this. The waves of the sea our mighty and rage horribly.

But the Lord who dwells on high is mightier.

It’s a great text, and we see the might of the Lord on high in the Lord in the boat in Jesus in Mark, Chapter four. As as he comes the wind and the waves. And always remember, John Chapman used to say, If you don’t think this is a great miracle, try it yourself. When you’re on a ferry on the harbour and there’s a big swell and a lot of wind, just go out the back and try calming the waves and the wind for yourself and you’ll see nothing will happen. And this is a remarkable miracle.

Now I wonder, as we come to this section this morning, what you expect the preacher to say about this passage. I sometimes wonder whether we look at these paragraphs and we see them as kind of like a piece of lemon that has had the last drop squeezed out of it. And I hope you’ll never think that about Scriptures. I hope that you will consider them to never be dry, and the privilege for you and me is to think more carefully about this paragraph. And that’s what I’ve tried to do this week. And I hope that you’ll do that with me this morning.

We don’t want to read the paragraph in a sentimental way. You know that kind of sermon that says, Are you in rough seas at the moment Jesus is with you in the boat. There is some element of usefulness in that approach, but it is very much a man centred approach. It loses something of the majesty of Christ, and it’s in danger of becoming just a little bit shallow.

On the same note, we don’t want a kind of a stale reading of the passage. You know, the Orthodox person who says here is a miracle that tells you that Jesus is God. Have you got it? Jesus is God tick the box and you end up with a fairly non impactful piece of orthodoxy.

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Sentimental devotional type reading becomes dissatisfying and stale Tick. The box type reading also becomes dissatisfying. I hope that we might think more carefully. So what are we going to do with this little paragraph about calming the storm? Well, we pray as we’ve done, we think together and if possible, we do some reading. Sometimes the commentaries that I read to prepare for a sermon say nothing and are very disappointing. Sometimes they say something extremely helpful.

And I was helped this week by a comment of Peter Bolt, one of the finest lecturers at Moore College, who has written a little book on Mark called Jesus. Defeat of Death.

And on this section of the calming of the storm, he points out that the seven verses have three unanswered questions. The first one is in Verse 38. Don’t you care? The second one in Verse 40 is Don’t you trust me? And the third one in Verse 41. Who is this?

And to help us remember these three questions so that we might even have a conversation about them over morning tea? Or remember as you drive home in the car or even think about it this week, I’ve put it into three m’s. There is the mortality question where the disciples say to Jesus, Don’t you care that we’re about to die?

Then there is the maturity question where Jesus asks them, Do you still have no faith? And then there is the messy. Any question, Perhaps the most important question where the disciples say, Who is this? Not only do these three questions expect us to think and they do, but they are also related to each other.

And let me just explain this to you. If you get who Jesus is, that’s a miracle. If you put your trust in him, that’s a miracle. You will then find it less of a problem to recognise his care for you and you and I in the challenges of this week. Or maybe this month. Or maybe today we’ll need to take seriously these questions. Who is the person of Christ? Have I put my trust in him? Therefore, am I growing in confidence that he cares for me?

That sequence will have to be thought through again and again and again. Let’s begin with the third of the questions. The Messianic question. The most important question. Who is this in verse 41? And I want to ask you, all of you who are here this morning because you can hear me. And the question is this. How would you answer the question If you were in the boat and the disciples called out in a loud voice together, Who is this? What would you say?

And I want to remind you, first of all, that Jesus is the teacher. The whole of the chapter has been about his teaching. Whoever put these chapter divisions together has decided to put this miracle at the end of the teaching. Not in the next chapter, which is all full of miracles.

And remember, Jesus has been teaching that his message is like seed, which gets scattered and brings in a great harvest. And it’s a harvest that’s going to grow by divine power, and it’s going to move from a tiny seed to a great tree. It’s a very confident piece of teaching now. Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because it’s true. He is the teacher.

But I’m also telling you because if you look at Verse 35 it begins with two words that day. That day that he taught them. He took them onto the lake the very day. He taught them about the invincibility of the kingdom. He said, Let’s cross the lake. So I want you to imagine that he’s been teaching all day. He’s been teaching on the invincibility of the word. The gospel will never be stopped. The kingdom will go forward. It’s all beyond the forces of evil. Everything will go forward and the disciples are listening and they’re beginning to not We know this. We know this, we get it.

And so Jesus says effectively, let’s now leave the lecture room. Let’s now leave the seminar room. Let’s go on a field trip. Let’s do something very practical. Let’s cross the lake and you can imagine them saying, because all is well and under control. Fine. Let’s cross the lake.

And within minutes the disciples are saying Joel over and over again all day as they’ve listened, they’ve said Yes, yes, yes, And now No, no, no.

It’s very normal reaction, isn’t it? When trouble comes, which is really beyond us. The students at Moore College are getting ready to finish in fourth year, and they’ve been writing essays for four years about the sovereignty of God and the power of God and the Kingdom of God.

And I know that every time the fourth year students get into the last months of their last year, they start to get very anxious about where they’re going to be placed and what ministry position they’re going to have and who they’re going to be working with. And all the doctrine of the last four years almost becomes lost.

Is it not true for you and me that we can sing hymns of great confidence in God and listen to sermons? And we nod and we nod? And then when we find ourselves this week waiting for some medical tests, everything we’ve been singing and saying almost flies out the window. That’s how it is for me. Sure it is for you or the worrying about our Children and our grandchildren.

Suddenly, all the doctrine goes out the window now, to make the point even clearer. Look at Verse 36. It says they took Jesus just as he was. That’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? They took him just as he was. What does that mean? They took him with the same clothes. They didn’t take him home and allow him to put on a new robe. They took him just as he was. What does that mean? He didn’t get an opportunity to shave.

They took him just as he was in the boat across the lake. Now it’s his idea to cross the lake because he wants to see whether the teaching has been grasped. And I think it is his idea to create the storm. Because those verses in Psalm 107 which were written 1000 years before this incident but described the incident perfectly, say some went out on the sea and the Lord stirred up a tempest.

Their courage melted away. They cried to the Lord. He stilled the storm, The waves were hushed and he guided them to the harbour. He still stood up. The temper says Psalm 107 And I wonder therefore whether Jesus has not only been teaching them, but he is now testing them and he is testing them with a serious storm. The waves are coming into the boat and these men, many of whom are fishermen, think that they will die serious teaching serious testing.

The second thing about Jesus is that he is a believer. Seems a very strange thing to say, but he is the believer, and it’s noticeable in Verse 38 that he is sleeping. And I’ve always been perplexed by this little phrase that he’s sleeping. It almost seems an irresponsible thing for him to be doing. And of course, some people say, Oh, he’s sleeping because he’s human He’s tired, you know? We’re seeing the humanity of Jesus and we’re going to see the divinity of Jesus, and that may be true. It may also be that this is a reference to Jonah, those of you who know your Old Testament, who know that Jonah was rebellious to God’s word, ran away, got caught in a storm, was sleeping in the boat and had to be thrown overboard. And here, by contrast, is somebody who’s utterly faithful to God’s word and is sleeping in the boat, and he’s not going to be thrown overboard. But he’s going to throw the storm overboard.

But I wonder whether the reason that Jesus is sleeping is because he’s a believer, a believer in God’s word. The word which has been spoken and Jesus says, is invincible means that a person listened very carefully to this. Don’t be distracted means that a person can sleep, says Jesus or Wake, and the word will still go forward.

And here a few verses later, we see somebody in Jesus who is sleeping because he knows that the word will still go forward.

I wonder if that’s the reason that Jesus is sleeping. It’s because he’s a believer. He sleeps because he trusts. And, of course, he’s the controller of the whole circumstance. They wake him because they’re terrified. And in Verse 39 he stands up and he does what only God can do. He speaks to the wind and the waves, just as God spoke in Genesis and brought creation under control. So God here in Genesis, in the person in Mark in the person of Jesus brings the creation under control.

And he does this because he is the Messiah. He’s the king. He’s the son of God, his God made flesh, we read in the Old Testament. It’s only used some 65 Lord who can still the roaring sea, and we read in some 89. It’s only you Yahweh who rules the sea and stills the waves. And here is Jesus doing it in his world.

So if you’ve got a lower view of Jesus and many do, he’s just a religious leader, he’s just a teacher.

This miracle blows that type of thinking out of the water.

Here we are, therefore, face to face with the Messianic question. Who is this? And the answer is it’s the majestic God who has come into the world in flesh and is demonstrating his character and his power to the world. And therefore I want to ask you again this morning. Do you know who this person is?

Do you know who this person is? Do you know that he is the Messiah? The king, the son of God, God made flesh. And he is that person, whether I believe in him or not, and whether you believe in him or not. And that very good reason for believing in him and the proof that you do believe that Jesus is majestic Messiah, son of God, is that you have surrendered to him like the wind and the waves. You’ve put yourself under his control, and not only have you surrendered to him, but you’ve also got a healthy fear of him.

People who have no fear of God, no fear of Christ the Bible says are fools. And it always worries me. When people are utterly casual about Jesus Christ, I can only assume that they’re either not converted and they don’t realise His Majesty or they’re in a very unhealthy place spiritually, because we’re meant to have a healthy fear of Jesus Christ. He is amazingly great.

And we’re also meant to praise him, because if we’ve come to see that he is the Messiah and we’ve come to place ourselves under his leadership, that’s a miracle. We should be very grateful, and we should be seeking to honour him. That’s the message in a question.

Now the second question, which is related, is the maturity question that is. Have you put your faith in him or specifically? Jesus. Question verse 40. Have you faith? Have you no faith? And again, how would you answer this question if you were there in the boat and Jesus looked at you and he said, Do you have you no faith? What would you say? You’re right. I have no faith or no, no, no. I have faith.

It does seem like a very rough question to ask these disciples as the boat is filling up with water to turn to them and say, Why are you so afraid and have you no faith? Why would you turn to men who are drowning and say, I want you to be heroes at this point?

But he’s not really saying that. He’s simply saying to them, Do you trust me?

You trusted me in the easy times. Can you trust me in the difficult times Have you not learned? Jesus is saying to the disciples that I can be trusted. He might have said something like this earlier when people brought sick people and demon possessed people. Did you notice that I struggled with anybody?

Was there any situation that came to me, which was a problem? No. And when I was teaching, did you get the impression that I was nervous about the cause Jesus might have said to the disciples? Did you get the impression that I was presenting the kingdom as a pretty risky option? No.

Well, why don’t you trust me?

How come you have no faith?

That’s a good question, isn’t it?

I remember when an American came and preached on this passage very wonderfully that he said, You know, sometimes we just don’t get it.

For some reason, we just don’t get it.

One of the cartoons on my desk calendar this week has a husband and wife lost in a vast, empty desert, with the sun beating down on him on them. And he’s looking at the map, and he’s saying to his wife, You know, you were right. It was left at the supermarket and he just hasn’t got it. He just didn’t listen. She said what to do, and he just didn’t listen.

Sometimes we don’t get the plans do. It doesn’t matter how many times they said we just don’t get it.

We say we’re not going to have a normal service time during the Home House party.

We’re not going to have a normal service time during the Home House party.

Let’s say it for six weeks in a row. Let’s write about it and you know what happens. At the normal service times last Sunday, people turn up and then they’re surprised and they’re shocked.

They just don’t get it.

Sometimes people don’t get the priorities we say to people. You know, being with God’s people is probably more important than exercise. Being with God’s people is probably more important than a marathon.

Show your Children that being with God’s people is more important than a marathon. But people will vote with their running shoes, won’t they? They don’t get the priorities most seriously. There are people who don’t get the person of Christ that he has to be trusted.

If you want to be rescued, I don’t know if you saw that surfer in the last week or so, who was suddenly faced with the huge shark next to him. I’m sure you did see it and how fast he climbed onto the jet ski and when he climbed onto the jet ski that look of utter relief, almost like he’d been exhausted in 30 seconds as he threw himself onto that place of safety.

Now, when a person wants to become a Christian, you throw yourself onto Christ, you throw yourself onto Jesus. You’ve got very good reason to throw yourself onto Jesus because if you have sinned in any way, if there’s been a wrong thought, a wrong word, a wrong deed or 1000 of them, or 10,000 of them or two of them, that sin has separated you from God.

And because that sin has separated you from God, there is nothing you can do to bridge the gulf. If you stay in that position until you get to the end of the line of your life, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a separation, which is eternal.

And the just judgement of God will land on you and you will be dismissed forever from his presence. That’s very, very good reason for taking the jet ski of Jesus seriously and to quickly climb onto him. But some people just don’t get it. It’s like they get everything else, but that you can test whether you have taken Jesus seriously by how much you make of him.

You can test whether you have taken Jesus seriously by whether you thank him for his rescue. And, of course, Jesus not only needs to be trusted for salvation, he needs to be trusted for tests and trials and difficulties.

Somehow, we have to come again and again to the point of saying to him, I’m out of my depth here. I have no solution. I need to trust this to you. I trust myself to you. I think of a single mum this week rushed into hospital.

I think of a father of four who poured out his heart this week because he’s been sacked from his position as a pastor. I think of a very fit and healthy man who now finds that he has cancer all through him.

How do these people do their trusting when the emotions are really all over the place? One of the things that has to be done really isn’t It is to go back to these three questions and to say, Who is this person? Jesus Christ, Answer the God of love and power in charge of the world.

Have I trusted myself to him for salvation? Am I now needing to trust him for this test? Yes.

And then we may be helped more and more to answer the question of whether he cares. The more we think about the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus and the promises of Jesus, the more we will find ourselves saying he cares.

And I’ve been interested in my preparation to realise that Jesus rebukes the disciples for not trusting him.

I don’t think I’m very good at this in pastoral ministry. You may think I am good at this, but I don’t think it’s easy in the Christian life to rebuke a friend anymore.

And I don’t think it’s easy for a pastor to exercise a proper rebuke anymore.

But Jesus, with great love for people, rebukes their lack of trust, he says here in Chapter four to the disciples, Do you have no faith? He says in Chapter seven. Are you so dull in Chapter eight? Do you still not see again in Chapter eight? Don’t you get it? And in Chapter nine, how long should I wait? It’s quite strong, isn’t it?

He rebukes those who don’t trust him, as if to say, Wake up and get on and when you do know who he is and when you’ve seen his faithfulness in the past and we have seen his faithfulness in the past, especially, we’ve seen his faithfulness in his life, death and resurrection. Then we find that We are in a better position to trust him for the present and for the future. And that’s his question. You have trusted me.

Do you trust me? And I wonder whether you are able to answer this question this morning and say, I do trust him for salvation, and I do trust him for this situation.

The last, very briefly, is the mortality question. Don’t you care? Verse 38 which is said to Jesus and again, how do you answer this? It seems to me that if you’re going to be tested and you may be being tested at the present, that if it’s going to be a real test, by definition you’ll be out of your depth. A real test is not one where you are in control. A real test is one where you are out of your control. This storm in Mark four is beyond the disciples, but it is not beyond Jesus, and you’ll notice that it’s the first miracle in mark that the disciples find affects them.

All the other healings, all the other exorcisms up until this time have affected somebody else, and it’s not so difficult when things affect someone else. to stay fairly calm. It’s when things affect you and you suddenly find that you’re in an absolute storm of difficulty. This is what job experience didn’t remember. He was suffering terribly, but the suffering was kind of outside himself. It was his house. It was his kids. It was his crops. It was his flocks. But when it affected him, then the real struggle began.

I don’t think we ever are going to escape the significance of this mark, Chapter four, situation or framework, because when some answers come at us quickly and we’ve got a problem and the solution turns up within seconds, we don’t grow much. The storm and the solution seemed to be under control here in Mark four within minutes.

But what do you do when you’re waiting weeks, months and years for an answer? That’s much, much more challenging, isn’t it?

In my pastoral ministry, it’s always a joy when a solution to a problem comes so quickly and I feel as though that’s an encouragement to my faith. But what do we do when there is a problem? And the solution just doesn’t come weeks, months and years? I find that much more difficult and our cliches at that particular time. Our Bible verses don’t have quite the same weight, do they?

We certainly need the promises of God. But there are days where the question of whether Christ cares those days are very real. We will, as I say, be greatly helped by going back to the Messianic question. Who is Jesus? And the answer in the Bible is that he is the son of God full of power, full of love, full of wisdom and can be utterly trusted. Then we’ll be wise to go back to the second question. Have we trusted him with salvation?

And if that is the case, we can be pretty sure that he can be trusted with situations, because if he intervened to take away from us our greatest problem, you can be sure that he is interested in our lesser problems. And we need to focus our mind on the intervention which he brought when he came into this world and lived a perfect life and died a substitution every death and rose a resurrection rising in order that we might be saved.

Does he care? We’ll find this question will be better answered when we think about who he is and the fact that we have trusted him and he’s shown himself to be sufficient in the past and he will for the present and he will for the future. That’s why I think the gravestone for Mary Ann Stewart down in the cemetery is so interesting because the gravestone is basically saying in one sense we lost this girl.

And yet what they want to say by putting the text on the tombstone is we still believe that Jesus is mightier. Why do we believe that Jesus is mightier though we lost her because we know who he is and we’ve put our confidence in him and we know he cares. And the proof of his caring is his death and resurrection.

And the further proof of his care will be seen in eternity. When we recognise that none of his people perish and none are taken out of his hand. So the message, Any question, Who is this person? The maturity question. Have you come to trust him and do you trust him? And then the mortality question Does he care?

Well, the answer to the first and the second question is, He does.

Let’s pray together.

Gracious God, We thank you for reminding us in this portion of your word of the person of Christ. Son of God, Ruler of the waves, one who is full of power and compassion. We thank you for bringing so many in this building to trust him, to have faith in him for salvation. We pray that you would continue to bring those who are lost to him for salvation. And we thank you that we have found Christ to be faithful in situation after situation. We pray that you would fill us with confidence in your care for us that we might be those who testify to the goodness and the greatness that you’ve shown at the cross and all the promises which hold fast for the present and the future. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.