Sermons with Boats in Them #1: A 27-Footer, a Great Windstorm of Wind, and a Cushion

Sermons with Boats in Them #1: A 27-Footer, a Great Windstorm of Wind, and a Cushion

A Song of Worship

This is a song of worship that delicately balances the relationship between the Lord and the believer, and the believer and the Lord. “Doulos” (δοῦλος) is the Greek word for slave or servant.

It’s a reminder that if we’ll look back “across the years” we’ll see that Jesus has been “constantly there.” We are the children of the living God, a “constant creation” being fashioned, moment-by-moment, into God’s man/woman.

Doulos

by Kemper Crab

 

You are my God and I am your man

And I will worship You with the works of my hands

And the love in my heart

And the thoughts in my mind

 

If the world could know;

If they could understand

How the exquisite touch of the Creator’s hand

Brings a blur to my eye, but makes my vision clear

 

Ring, rainbow ring, encircle the throne

Fiery ring of love around Your own

A golden ring to show just where I stand

A ring that binds my heart into Your hand

And looking back across the years

I can see that You were constantly there

Constant creation, that’s what I am

As You are making me into Your man

 

Here is my ear; drive through the nail

The world will know by the ring that I wear

That I am not for sale

For You are my God

And I am you man

Text: Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The First Story with a Boat in it

1)  I know that as you sit here this morning in the midst of a global pandemic, the thing that is most likely foremost on your mind is boats.

I know. Me too! I mean, cruise anyone?

But this morning I want to leave our study through the Gospel of John to study some passages that I’ve been praying will be helpful to each of us during these unprecedented times.

We’ve been talking a lot about Jesus lately – not a bad thing to be doing in the ‘Laodicean’ age, which the Apostle John predicted would be characterized by Jesus standing outside the church knocking to get in! (Revelation 3:20)

Last week we wrestled with some pretty heavy theological concepts – primarily, the true nature of Christ and the Athanasian Creed.

It’s important to be clear about who Jesus really is – especially in times such as these when panic seems to be the norm.

He is the Alpha and the Omega – the One who always was and always shall be, the eternal “is”.

He is the Pantokrator, the Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth – and He is more than able to see us through this and every trial we’ll face.

Furthermore, He is able to incite within His people a deep sense of mission, the sense of mission that we see in our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the ages – men and woman who, although facing the arena and unimaginable persecution, understood that their trial was an opportunity to testify of the goodness of the Lord.

This is a terrible challenge for our nation right now, Church, we all know that!

But it’s also an opportunity that we must not lose sight of.

In the days ahead the Lord will give each of us opportunities to speak light into the darkness, and we need to be ready for it!

My Father is working right up to this very moment,” Jesus said, “and so I am working too.”

The “very moment” Jesus spoke of was on a Sabbath.

Jesus was working then and He’s working now (John 5:17).

Christian’s know this.

But, if we merely set our eyes upon ourselves, ourselves is all we’ll see.

We’ll miss the opportunities that the Lord has set before us to further the coming of His kingdom.

In the Apostle Peter’s final letter, he wrote of the ‘end of all things’ that were increasingly coming upon the world and encouraged the church with these words:

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13).

That’s what we’re doing, Church, “waiting.”

But more than “waiting”! “Waiting and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

As we wait, we minister, we testify, we TELL others of the goodness of the Lord, and we lead them to the living waters to drink!

And, because we’re fountains ourselves, the Holy Spirit within us splashes grace and joy all whom we meet (John 7:37-38)!

Now, I want to look a few stories that have boats in them over the next few weeks.

I’ve been receiving many e-mails and calls from people who are basically saying, ‘Pastor Gene, I know you love studying the Gospel of John, but we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Many of us are afraid. Could you please preach a few messages that have boats in them?’

Well I have surely heard the cries of our people and so I’m going to do just that.

The first of these stories is in chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel.

Now, prior to this point in Mark’s story, the disciples have seen plenty of evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship.

They’d seen Him forgive sins – an exclusively divine prerogative (Mark 1:21–3:6).

They’d seen Him exorcise demons and heal the sick and teach with an authority that no one had ever seen before – it was almost as if He’s written the book He was preaching! (Mark 2:1–3:6).

But in Mark 4, Jesus is going to shock them yet again.

He’s going to perform a very specific kind of miracle – one they’d not seen before – a so-called ‘nature’ miracle where He displays His authority even over the natural elements and laws of the nature which He Himself created.

The result is wholly predictable: the disciples will be floored by it!

Mark 4:41 says that they will ask, ‘Who IS THIS, that even the wind and sea obey him?!’

Who indeed!

OK, let’s get started.

2. Mark 4:35: “On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

The “them” refers to Jesus’ disciples, for whom He’d been interpreting His parables (4:34).

The Greek in this passage is very colloquial.

It’s kind of like two construction workers having lunch and one of them is telling the other one a story.

It’s loaded with what we call ‘historical present tenses’ – present tense verbs (mixed with imperfects here) used to tell a story that already happened in order to make us feel like where right there in the story.

Were we to translate it literally into English it would sound like a grammatical disaster!

‘So, He says to them … they’re taking Him … some other boats are with them … a great storm is coming up … the waves are breaking … the boat is already being filled … He is sleeping … they are waking Him and saying.’

It’s bad Greek and terrible English, but REALLY exciting!

The “other side” that Jesus tells them to head toward is the southeastern coast of the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee is a small, freshwater lake in northern Israel.

It is the lowest freshwater lake on the planet and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, which is a saltwater lake).

It’s only 33 miles in circumference, roughly 13 miles long and 8 miles wide.

It’s partly fed by underground springs, but its main source is, of course, the famous Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south.

The side to which Jesus wants to go is predominantly a Gentile region, but we’re not told why He wanted to go there, so I’m not going to guess.

OK, what-ev-er, I’ll guess.

Jesus had been working very hard. His popularity had been increasing. It’s very likely that He just wanted a retreat from the maddening crowds.

This was not unusual for our Lord.

He always prioritized time with His Father and encouraged His disciples to do the same.

In Mark 6:31, He will say to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” And then Mark adds, “For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”

Q.  Do you prioritize time with the Father as you should?

We really need to!

3) Mark 4:36: “And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him.”

The boat (τὸ πλοῖον) is likely the boat that Jesus was preaching from at the beginning of the chapter (Mark 4:1 ff.).

We’re not told anything about the boat, but it was most likely similar to the one that was discovered in 1986 astonishingly well-preserved.

This boat is from the 1st century and was discovered near Kibbutz Ginosar on the western shore of the sea of Galilee.

It’s 27 feet long by 7.5 feet wide, constructed with a solid oak frame overlaid with cedar boards, and holds about 15 people.

Jesus and the Twelve could easily have fit in a boat this size and there would have been plenty of room left over for a large cooler filled with Naan bread, hummus and 2 twelve packs of Sprite Zero – all of which were essential staples of a 1st century Israeli angler’s diet.

But I digress.

One thing that puzzles me about this verse is the detail that they took Jesus “with them in the boat, just as He was.”

Huh? I’m not even going to guess at what this might mean.

OK, fine! I’ll guess.

It probably just means that Jesus was already in the boat, so the disciples just shoved off.

The Revised English Bible translates it, “in the boat in which he had been sitting” – which is, of course, not what it says, but what the translators think it means.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible – a translation I really like – renders it, “since He was already in the boat” – which is, of course, not what it says, but what the translators think it means.

What it says is: “they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was.”

Which is where we get the famous Christian Hymn, Just As He Was.”

But I digress again.

(Oh, for those who enjoy let’s-get-lost in-the-weeds discussions, see the footnote for R.T. France’s amusing comment that comes close to accusing Mark of an “awkwardly” worded “clause with no obvious meaning or purpose,” written in a “hardly elegant style” which borders on “narrative incoherence” and employs “a fairly uncouth bit of grammar.” This, by the way, is how we ‘Bible-geeks’ while away the noonday hours! [1])

One last thing here: notice that there were other boats involved here.

They may have contained other disciples, we don’t know.

We never hear about them again, so they’re not an important part of the story Mark wants to tell.

4) Mark 4:37: “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.”

Now, geography is important if we’re going to understand this.

The Sea of Galilee is surrounded by step hills on all sides and, as I said, it is very low – the lowest freshwater lake on earth.

Because of this unique topography, storms can, and do, arise VERY quickly.

David Garland writes: “Cooler air from the hills can rush down and collide with warm air in the lake’s basin, creating sudden squalls.”[2]

The Greek literally says that a “great windstorm of wind” arose (λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου).

As is typical for Mark, his description is very vivid: ‘the waves keep on [imperfect active indicative] breaking into the boat,’ so much so that ‘the boat keeps on [present passive infinitive] being filled up!’

We can feel the weather thrashing the vessel – the wind is roaring, the waves are smashing the boat forward, aft, port and starboard, and the boat is flooding.

Here’s Rembrandt van Rijn’s imagining of it …

Thankfully, because the disciples knew that Jesus was in the boat, they remained calm and thanked God for the trial.

Just kidding. They panicked.

O, by the way, some think it’s very likely that they didn’t know how to swim even though some of them were professional fishermen.

“In a culture where swimming was not a recreational activity, sinking in rough seas in the middle of the lake would likely result in loss of life,” says David Garland! [3]

5) Mark 4:38: “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

They accuse Jesus of being unconcerned with His own disciple’s well-being, with their physical safety!

So, why was Jesus asleep?

The obvious implication is that He could rest easily because He was completely resting in His Father.

Isn’t this precisely what the Scriptures promise us?

Psalm 3:5:

“I lay down and slept;

I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”

Psalm 4:8:

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

 

Proverbs 3:24:

“If you lie down, you will not be afraid;

when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

Add to this that it had been a REALLY long day for our Lord!

He was no doubt exhausted.

However, as we well know, many an exhausted man or woman has been unable to sleep because of a lack of peace!

The disciples are panicked.

They address Jesus not as ‘Lord’ or ‘Master,’ but simply as “Teacher” (διδάσκαλε).

They’re still underestimating Him – we do too.

Because the ‘Teacher’ is about to reveal Himself to them as the very ‘Lord of the wind and the rain’ – at whose command they will stop in their tracks!

The disciples are afraid of physically drowning, but they’re already sinking spiritually: ‘Don’t You even care that we are in the process of perishing?’

Many people – even self-identified Christian people – are sinking in the same way today.

Their eyes are firmly fixed on the storm, rather than on the Lord of the storm – more fixed on the virus than on the Lord of the virus.

‘Doesn’t He even care that we are in the process of perishing,’ they cry out.

Of course, He does.

But anything more than an initial shock of panic because of sudden troubling news is a failure for believers on at least two levels:

It manifests a lack of faith, the only thing that that neutralizes fear; and

It reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of Who it is that is in the boat with us!

An interesting side note here – a small and seemingly insignificant detail: Jesus had a cushion.

So, by way of application, for you to have a cushion is, well, very Christ-like.

What Would Jesus Do?

Well, He’d sit on a cushion. “Go ye and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b).

6) Mark 4:39: “And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

The word translated “peace” (σιωπάω) is not the ordinary word for peace. It means silence.

It’s a present active imperative, a command.

Jesus basically stands and rebukes the wind, commanding it: “Silence! Be quiet (φιμόω)!”

He tells the WIND to produce the action of quieting down, and it DOES!

This is more than remarkable, it’s a divine miracle.

The result was that (unlike us many times) the wind obeyed instantly: “the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

The “GREAT [μεγάλη] windstorm of wind” in verse 37, was instantly replace by a “GREAT [μεγάλη] calm” in verse 39.

This is truly amazing right?

Many commentators have pointed out that the way Jesus spoke to the wind is very similar to the way He spoke to demons!

Early on in His ministry, Jesus exorcised a demon in Capernaum, also by the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue with an authority that “astonished” everyone who heard Him. (Mark 1:22).

But, all of a sudden, a demon-possessed man in the congregation had finally had enough!

He cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24).

But Jesus – watch it now – “rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (Mark 1:25-28).

See it?

He speaks to the unclean spirit the same way He speaks to the wind!

He “rebukes” it (ἐπιτιμάω) and demands it to be “silent” (φιμόω).

7) So, let’s be absolutely clear about who this is who was asleep on a wet cushion at the back of this 27-footer!

He is quietly resting in the midst of our own present “great windstorm of wind” too!

He is Jesus Christ, God Himself, the Creator of the wind and the waves and of you and I.

Mark this down: ONLY GOD can calm the waves with a simple Word of command!

What the disciples have just witnessed is a demonstration of divine power!

How could He do that?

Easy! Jesus is the One, after all, who spoke creation into existence!

He is the eternal Word who became flesh.

John 1:3-5 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And HE LOVES YOU! Do you see that?

Hebrews 1:1-3: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

And HE PROMISED TO NEVER LEAVE YOU! Do you see that?

Colossians 1:15-23: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And HE CALLS YOU HIS OWN! Do you see that?

Any questions about who is commanding the wind here?

O Church, the only time I am ever afraid is when I lose sight of who it is who’s in the boat with me!

8) But here’s something I was thinking about this week.

As astonishing as these things are, I found two things in the New Testament that can actually astonish Jesus!

Care to know what they are? OK.

a) The first thing that astonishes Jesus is finding the presence of faith where it is unexpected.

For instance, in Matthew 8 a Centurion’s servant was ill and he pled for Jesus to heal him.

When Jesus offered to go with him, the man said: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”

Jesus was FLOORED by this!

Matthew 8:10 says, “When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith!”

The word “marveled” translates θαυμάζω – a word that means to be astonished, to be amazed, to wonder at something, to the point of actually being disturbed by it![4]

Unexpected faith is such a blessing to the Lord!

There are several instances in the New Testament where Jesus was astonished by the presence of unexpected faith.

But there’s something else that astonished the always-astonishing Lord …

b) Seeing the lack of faith where He expected to find it:

When He visited His hometown of Nazareth in Mark 6 and was rejected by those among whom He’d grown up, the Bible says, “He marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:6).

The word “marveled” here indicates a genuine sense of astonishment.

As Warren Wiersbe points out, the people in Jesus’ hometown thought they really knew Him, but their contempt for Him says nothing about Jesus and everything about them![5]

He is right: to know Jesus is to trust Jesus.

And while no one is immune to a brief lapse of faith, I think it still amazes the Lord to watch His people, for whom He has done so much, slip into unbelief and fear.

In Matthew 14:31, He asks Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I think He asks us to consider the same question.

I mean, didn’t our Lord say in Matthew 17:20 that “if you have faith [as small]  like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I can hear Him whispering, “Gene, do you believe this?’

James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

I can hear Jesus whispering, “Gene, do you believe this?’

So, the New Testament describes Jesus’ astonishment at the presence of faith where it wasn’t expected, and the lack of faith where it was!

9) O, Church, we have to remember who is in this boat with us!

Think of His power over the world He created, over the laws of nature that He put into place, and over the sea itself that He here rebukes!

In the Bible, only God commands the wind and the waves!

Yet Jesus speaks and the wind obeys!

Listen to what God’s Word says …

Psalm 104:7: “At Your rebuke the waters fled; at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away” (Berean Study Bible).

Psalm 89:9: “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.”

Psalm 65:5-9:

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,

O God of our salvation,

the hope of all the ends of the earth

and of the farthest seas;

the one who by his strength established the mountains,

being girded with might;

who stills the roaring of the seas,

the roaring of their waves,

the tumult of the peoples,

so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.

You make the going out of the morning

and the evening to shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it;

you greatly enrich it;

the river of God is full of water.”

And Psalm 107 sounds almost like a poetic prophesy of this morning’s boat story!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

whom he has redeemed from trouble …

21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,

and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

23 Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the great waters;

24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,

his wondrous works in the deep.

25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their evil plight;

27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men

and were at their wits’ end.

28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

29 He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and he brought them to their desired haven.

31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

In the Bible, and also in all Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) religious and mythological thinking, only God can command the wind and the waves!

Yet Jesus speaks and nature obeys here!

Again, at the Jesus’ command – YOUR Lord’s command – the “GREAT (μεγάλη) windstorm” became a “GREAT (μεγάλη) calm”!

Do you think He can calm this current storm too?

Or, do you think He can calm you in this storm?

Of course He can!

10) Well, our first story with a boat in it ends in Mark 4:40 & 41: He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Having rebuked the sea, Jesus now rebukes the disciples.

He asks them two questions: one about fear and one about faith.

Why? Because fear and faith are intimately related to one another.

The word translated “fear” hear is not the one I would have expected to find here.

It’s not φόβος (phobos), but δειλός (deilos), a word that means to be timid or cowardly.

And it’s found in two important verses – each of which warn us away from it!

The first is in John 14:27.

In this wonderful passage, the Lord Jesus is going away.

By 9:00 the next morning He’ll by crucified and by 3:00 in the afternoon He’ll be dead.

What does He say to His disciples? Here it is:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (δειλός).”

‘Hard times are coming,’ Jesus is saying.

‘You may feel alone. You may not know what to do at times. You may not even understand what’s going on. But you believe in God, believe in Me too! I’m going to prepare a place for you because you’re mine and I love you.’

‘I have not forgotten you – I never will. I’m leaving you something too: My very peace. This is not like the false peace that the world will offer you with its lying solutions that never really satisfy, but a real tranquility of spirit.’

‘So, don’t let your hearts be troubled by the things you see. And whatever you do, don’t give way to timidity or cowardice. Be courageous because you know Me. I am the One who is in the boat with you!’

And the second place we find this word is in 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul puts it as clearly as it is possible for a thing to be put!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness (δειλός, timidity, cowardice), but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7, HCSB).

Amen and amen!

Are you feeling timid? Like you’re shrinking back in fear at the storm that surrounds us?

OK, but be sure of this one thing: you did NOT get that spirit from your Father.

Period.

And so, Jesus looks at His disciples, panicked by ‘great windstorm of wind’ and the crashing waves and the filling boat and asks:

‘Why?

Why are you so afraid?

Haven’t I shown you enough for you to believe?

Have you still no faith?’

I think He asks us these very same questions this morning.

11) The disciple’s astonished (and astonishing) response is found in the last verse of our story, Mark 4:41: “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This is really interesting, because their response to what they have seen and heard gives birth to a for-real TERROR within them!

This is φόβος (phobos) – the word we get phobia from. 

And the construction of the sentence is amazing.

We basically have the word repeated twice in different forms.[6]

In other words, we could literally translate it, “And they feared a great fear,” or simply, “They were TERRIFIED!”

But this was a GOOD terror, the right kind of terror, the terror that settles into the heart of a man or woman who at last realizes that they are in the presence of the very God of all creation, the sovereign Lord, the Pantokrator.

This is a terror that propels us into service, that makes us evangelists and missionaries to all around us.

This is the Isaiah 6 terror:

“… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

This is also the Revelation 1 terror – the terror that is always followed by the Lord’s personal assurance:

John the Revelator wrote: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).

The disciple’s cowardice because of the storm has been replaced by a healthy terror – the only fear that believers should ever fear – the Lord Himself.

David Garland writes: “Their fear of the storm—rebuked by Jesus because of their cowardice and lack of faith—now becomes a healthy fear of the Divine, as they experience the awesome power of God.”[7]

Amen!

But the answer to their question, “Who is this?” will take some time to unfold. It will unfold before them gradually, just as it does for us.

Conclusion

 Church, lots of people are afraid of lots of things this morning.

These are difficult and unprecedented times to be sure.

But should it surprise any Christian who’s been paying attention? No.

Did we really not think that the things Jesus and Paul told us to expect would never come?

We’re seeing many wondrous things unfold before our eyes – things that will expose the uncertainty of riches, the myth of self-sufficiency, and the faithfulness of the Lord (if we have eyes to see them).

Next week I’ll tell you another story about another boat.

But, until then, remember who is in the boat with you right now, OK?

He’s the only one we have to fear.

And what are we afraid of anyway?

Who’s the boogey man that’s got us hiding under the covers?

Is it the specter of death?

Good grief!

Hebrews 1:14-15 says, by dying, Jesus was able to “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [to] deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

The whole world is being held in slavery by Satan because they’re afraid to die!

The “fear of death” is keeping them in “lifelong slavery,” do you see that?

But NOT Christians! NOT believers!

We are slaves to no one but to our Lord Jesus Christ.

He is my Good Shepherd, and yours.

He is the Shepherd who is in the field with me (Psalm 23).

And so, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” because HE IS WITH ME!

He prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies!”

And even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, He anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows.

And, as if that’s not enough (you can make a note of this Satan, Slewfoot, you arch-liar), without any doubt “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”

And, when I die, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER” and EVER and EVER and EVER and EVER.

Here’s how Jesus put it His followers in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

AMEN! The Lord has every right to cast my wretched soul into to hell forever, but He won’t!

Because He LOVES Me and I LOVE Him.

1 John 4:18-19 tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.”

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Hey, by the way, do you like boat stories? We’ll have another one next week.

Till then, be blessed – and fear NOTHING but the Lord Himself!

Amen? Let’s Pray.

[1] “παραλαμβάνουσιν αὐτὸν ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ is generally taken to mean that, despite the apparent change of venue in v. 10, Mark here depicts Jesus as still in the boat which he had entered in v. 1; ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ is then often read rather awkwardly as two separate descriptive phrases, ‘just as he was, in the boat’. On this reading ὡς ἦν is a detached descriptive clause with no obvious meaning or purpose: what was it about Jesus’ condition at the time which deserved this comment? (Swete paraphrased it, ‘without going ashore to make preparations’; the idea may be appropriate, but ὡς ἦν is an odd way to say this.) It may be easier therefore to read ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ as a single idea, meaning something like ‘since he was already in the boat’ (hence REB, ‘in the boat in which he had been sitting’; similarly, but more paraphrastically, GNB), though this, too, is hardly elegant style. An alternative possibility, in view of Mark’s tendency not to distinguish very carefully between εἰς and ἐν (as we have seen in 1:21 where εἰς occurred where we should have expected ἐν; cf. 10:10; 13:9) might be to render it, ‘they took him into the boat just as he was’. This rendering would give a more appropriate sense for παραλαμβάνουσιν (they were already in the boat and took him in with them) and would relieve Mark of the charge of narrative incoherence (in that Jesus is understood to have left the boat, as v. 10 suggests), but at the cost of accusing him of a fairly uncouth bit of grammar. Since it also leaves the awkward ὡς ἦν unattached and unexplained, this is perhaps the less attractive option.” R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), p.223.

[2] Garland, David E., Mark: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p.189.

[3] Ibid., p.189-190.

[4] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000) on θαυμάζω.

[5] Wuest, Kenneth, Wuest’s Word Studies (Chicago, Moody Press), ad loc.

[6] The verb “to fear” is followed by a cognate accusative of the same word to make it emphatic.

[7] Garland, David E., Mark: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), p.191.

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