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June 23, 2024

Do I Know You?

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Lectionary Category: Biblical Scripture: Mark 4:35–41

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 23, 2024

Mark 4:35-41

 “Do I Know You?”

Maybe you’ve had the experience in life where someone unfamiliar comes up to you and starts a conversation with you. They seem very familiar with you, but you have no idea who they are. It’s an awkward situation. While they’re talking, you are madly wracking your brain trying to figure out who this person is. What to do? Do you just play along and pretend that you know who this is? Do you make an excuse of some sort to get out of there, just to save face because you don’t know who it is? Or do you just fess up and say, “Um, do I know you?” That is what the disciples were asking themselves about Jesus at the close of today’s Gospel lesson. They had been with Jesus for some time already, and maybe they thought they knew who he was, but clearly, they did not. After he had calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, they asked themselves: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). Based on the Gospel lesson, today’s message, is entitled “Do I Know You?” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

The Sea of Galilee is actually not a sea at all, but a fresh water lake nearly eight miles wide by thirteen miles long. It provides much of the drinking water for the nation of Israel today. Called by various names in the Bible: the Sea of Kinnereth (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3), the Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1), it’s sometimes referred to as simply as “the lake.” Nestled among the hills of Galilee, the Sea of Galilee is some 700 feet below sea level and because of its location it’s subject to sudden and violent storms as east winds blow in cool air which then collide with the warm air that covers the water of the sea (https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/sea-of-galilee-geography). It is one of these storms that is recorded in today’s Gospel lesson.

The disciples found themselves caught in a storm while out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. It’s one thing to experience a storm with lashing winds, thunder, lightning, and driving rain on land, but it is something else entirely to be out on the open water when this happens. The danger is magnified exponentially under these conditions and it can quickly become a life-threatening situation. If you’ve ever been through this, you never forget it. In the strength and power of the One whom even wind and wave must obey, the forces of nature must submit at his command: “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39a). The original word here (Πεφίμωσο) means to muzzle, to silence. The word here is in the perfect tense, and so carries with it the meaning, “put the muzzle on and keep it on” (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Rienecker/Rogers. Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1976; pp. 98-99). Having witnessed all of this first-hand, the disciples were dumbfounded. “Do I know you?” The good news is that even if we do not fully know who Jesus is, he knows us fully. He knows us inside and out – better than we know ourselves. He loves us and laid down his life for us. Jesus, the Son of God, demonstrated clearly that he is Lord of all creation. He calls us to put our trust in him and his power to help in time of need.

The image before us is of a painting by Rembrandt entitled, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” painted in 1633. Measuring more than four feet wide by five feet high, it is Rembrandt’s only seascape. The painting was housed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston until it was stolen on March 18, 1990, along with a number of other paintings, by thieves disguised as police officers. In 2013 the FBI announced that they knew who was responsible for the crime, but the paintings, including Rembrandt’s masterpiece, have yet to be recovered. This is still considered to be the biggest art theft in our nation’s history, and until such time as the paintings are recovered, the museum plans to continue displaying the empty frames of the stolen paintings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee).

Rembrandt captures the intensity of the raging storm at that moment when the disciples come and wake up Jesus who is asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). The close-up reveals the intensity of the disciples’ emotions in the midst of the storm, including one who appears to be seasick over the side of the boat. In the turbulence and chaos of what is going on, they feel like they are going down. The words of the psalmist seem to be fulfilled: “then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters” (Psalm 124:4-5). Sometimes in life, the storm is out there, as it was in today’s Gospel lesson, but sometimes the storm is in here – within our hearts and minds. Worries and burdens over loved ones, health concerns, marital and family problems, financial difficulties, job and workplace challenges. Like any external storm of nature, that internal storm can sweep over us, and we feel as though we will surely be destroyed. Like those disciples, we, too, cry out in fear and desperation: “Teacher, don’t you care that I am perishing? Jesus, don’t you care that I am going down?” At times, we, too, may feel as though Jesus is asleep and unaware of what is going on in our lives. Where is our peace in the storm?

The closing words of today’s psalm remind us: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). Jesus is both Son of God and Son of man. Everything ascribed to God as Creator and Lord of all, we ascribe by faith to Jesus as well. He is the One who has “shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:8-11). The winds and waves are obedient to his voice, and in place of raging chaos and destruction, with Jesus there is great calm and blessed peace. Sometimes the Lord chooses to calm the storm, as he did on the Sea of Galilee, but at other times, the Lord chooses to calm his child in the midst of the storm. Instead of bestowing outward calm and peace by stilling the storm, the Lord Jesus may choose to bestow inward calm and peace to those who love him. This great blessing enables God’s children to endure; to hold on; to persevere; to remain steadfast, even in the midst of the storm, so that we are able to say in faith: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  

In the midst of life’s storms, in our human weakness and frailty, the Lord Jesus may need to correct us so that he might strengthen us, as he did with his disciples after the stilling of the storm: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Even if our faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32), by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord enables us to “remain steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Do I know you, Jesus? How will we answer that closing question of the disciples: “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). In faith, we know who this is. We know and believe this is Jesus, true God and true man, who lived and died and rose again that we may be his own now and forever. Having loved us so much that he died for us, let us now live for him, trusting that no storm in this life can take us from him, and that “nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38b). Amen.

 

other sermons in this series

Jul 14

2024

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: Mark 6:14–29 Series: Lectionary

Jun 16

2024

The Automatic Seed

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: Mark 4:26–34 Series: Lectionary

Jun 9

2024

Family Intervention

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: Mark 3:20–35 Series: Lectionary