On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Jesus Calms Chaos
Dr. Jon Burnham preached this sermon
at Batesville Presbyterian Church on June 25, 2006
We live in a chaotic world. A chaotic world that makes us afraid. We are afraid we are running out of oil. We are afraid of global warming. We are afraid Korea may use a nuclear bomb against us. We are afraid Iran may develop a nuclear bomb. We are afraid to pull our troops out of Iraq. We are afraid not to pull our troops out of Iraq. We are afraid of being outsmarted by another church. We are afraid another church has better facilities. We are afraid we may get fired and find ourselves living on the street. We are afraid we are running out of time. We are afraid of getting old. We are afraid of death.
We are awash in a sea of fear. And in the midst of our chaos we reach out for the steady hand of Jesus only to discover that Jesus is not standing where we thought he would be. This happened to Jesus' disciples as they were traveling by boat across a large and deep lake called the Sea of Galilee. When a torrential storm came upon them in the dead of night, instead of being present on deck, ready for action, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat. The disciples were horrified. This storm was more than they could handle. Even the experienced fishermen on board had never seen a storm so severe. This storm at sea is the setting for a powerful story.
Let's put ourselves into the story and experience the wonder and power of a chaotic event with Jesus. The waves are banging the side of the boat. Gales of wind sound like a train coming down the tracks. We know we are in deep trouble. We are in over our heads. There is only one hope for us now. Jesus. We must find Jesus. We rummage around in the darkness. Groping here. Peeping there. Stumbling. Falling. Waving. Shouting. Searching for Jesus in the middle of a storm.
Then, thanks be to God, we finally find Jesus. We are shocked to discover he is asleep. We hate to wake him up. We feel sorry that it seems we only look for him when we are desperate. When our child is sick. When our mother is dying. When we are facing surgery. Yet we cannot help but wake him up. He is our only hope for survival. So we reluctantly touch his shoulder. "Jesus. Master. Wake up." He doesn't budge. We put our fingers on his shoulder and move them. "Jesus. Get up. We're in a storm." He is still sound asleep. Finally, in desperation we put both hands on his shoulders and shake him and cry, "Jesus. Get up! Help! Help! We're dying here!"
Jesus starts to wake up. He rolls over. He moans, "What?! What?! What do you want?!"
We say, "Jesus! We're going down!"
Jesus rolls over on his hands and knees and stretches himself aright in the tossy turvy boat. He tries to stand up but the boat pitches starboard and he falls down. So he starts crawling. Crawling across the floor to the hatch that leads to the deck. We watch him and don't know what to do. He shouldn't go up on that deck because he may get thrown overboard. But we want him up there where the trouble is because he is the only one who may be able to handle the situation. Crawling. He makes it to the deck. He climbs up on the wet surface of the rocking deck. It is dark. Other disciples are stumbling around, hanging on, cursing and crying. Not even aware Jesus is now on deck.
Fully awake now, Jesus speaks to the wind as if he were addressing a barking dog in the night: "Be quiet! Pipe down." Wind takes note. Train sound stops. Jesus snarls at the storming sea: "Stop it. Settle down!" Sea snorts back then sniffles and settles. We disciples look out at wind and sea as if to say, "Yea, take that!" The boat keeps rocking but not as hard. The waves are settling down. The deck slowly rocks from right to left until it stands still. The wind runs out of breath; the sea becomes smooth as glass.
Jesus reprimands us: "Why are you such cowards? Don't you have any faith at all?"
We are in absolute awe, staggered. "Who is this, anyway?" we ask. "Wind and sea at his beck and call!"
We put ourselves into the story because this story is our story. It happens to us again and again. Crisis strikes and our memory fails us. Tragedy hits and our courage flees. Each time chaos comes we think this time is not like last time. This time it is different. This time we will not survive. We fear we'll never make up the deficit in the church budget before the end of the year. We'll never find someone to replace a church staff member. How quick we are to disregard the way Jesus has guided our congregation through terrible storms during the past 165 years. Jesus calmed stormy waters in this congregation before the Civil War. He put out the fire when Union troops set our first sanctuary ablaze. Jesus stood with grieving women of this congregation who mourned the loss of father, husband, or son, in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam War and Wars in Iraq. Jesus dried their tears and rode home with them to an empty house. Jesus enabled this congregation to build Batesville Presbyterian Church from four or five different congregations in this community. Jesus calmed the chaos in this congregation during the Civil Rights Movement and even today. Jesus is still here. He hasn't left us. We will find him if we look. Seek and ye shall find.
Remember the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Remember how howling winds rocked our little boat. The waves which towered some four stories high crashed down on us again and again. The lightening flashed in crazy white patterns against the cloud darkened black night sky. The thunder rolled. We didn't think we would make it. Jesus wasn't on deck. We had to search for him in the darkness. We finally found him. He staggered up on deck. He rebuked the wind and it became calm. He laid down the law to the sea and the waters became smooth as glass. He shut down the storm. We were amazed. We are still amazed when we think about it.
Jesus calms chaos. He has the power to calm chaos. He has the will to calm chaos. He has the intention to calm chaos. Seek and you will find him. Knock and he will open the door. Ask and he will give it to you. For whoever seeks finds. Whoever knocks, the door is opened unto them. Whoever asks receives. No storm is too strong for Jesus. No wind is too high. No waves are too wild. No tragedy is too severe. No relationship is too broken. No person is too far out of control. The chaos is our lives is not beyond him. Jesus calms chaos. Let's find him. Let's beg for his help. Let's marvel at the miracle. Jesus still calms chaos even today. Jesus calms chaos.