Title: Following Jesus
Text: Mark 4.35-41
Introduction: Thank you, Tony for reading Scripture for us this morning.
Our story begins with Jesus finishing his teaching through parables. As the evening moves in, Jesus encourages the disciples to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. We were told by Mark, up in 3.23, that Jesus began teaching them in parables. And, in Ch. 4 we learn that it is mainly because there are those who have rejected Christ. All of the signs were there, but these people hardened their hearts toward Christ and rejected what they had seen with their own eyes. On this particular day, as outlined in chapter four, Jesus teaches in parables from a boat.
I don’t suppose by any stretch of the imagination that these three parables in chapter four compose all of his parables and all of his teaching that day.
In his teaching, however, it is apparent that his teaching is about the Kingdom of God – who will receive and reject it; how it grows as God determines; and, how it will grow way beyond their wildest imaginations.
When we get to chapter 5, we’ll see Jesus performing miracles to demonstrate that he is Lord over everything. He has authority over everything. He is the promised Messiah. He alone has authority over nature, the physical and spiritual realms.
Here is my fear: I worry that something so familiar might cause us to miss something beautiful – that you might get drowsy and nod off while moving through familiar waters. You’ve heard this story before – maybe have taught it – maybe have preached it. Today’s message can sound a bit devotionalistic. That’s a word I made up – meaning: Instead of good, sound, biblical preaching, you might feel a bit like you got your devotional thought for the day. That isn’t my goal and I’ll do my best not to make it seem that way.
Story: This past Thursday night to Friday morning, I woke up in the middle of the night and began to contemplate God. I was praying and just trying to wrap my mind around how big God is. I tried defining or understanding the trinity. That alone took me to depths of humility that are hard to explain. I think this can be a good exercise, but mostly leads to futility and frustration. The truth is that no mind can conceive the height and depth and breadth and width of God’s existence. He cannot be explained, contained or imagined.
Rev 4.2 simply describes this scene: 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. V4 describes the 24 elders and v 5 comes back to the throne: 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
Even with this description, my mind cannot begin to imagine God. Thankfully, God in his infinite mercy has given us Jesus so that we can begin somewhere – a starting point to understanding who God is. This in itself is no easy task. But, it is for us a starting point.
Who is this man Jesus? Who is this man who summons us, and calls us and commissions us to go with his message? The disciples think they know. At this point, they’re considered insiders, as opposed to the outsiders – the Scribes, the crowds following just looking to be fed or clothed. The disciples feel special. They’re hand picked. But do they really know what it means to follow after Jesus?
In today’s passage we’ll find six principles to following Christ as demonstrated through their actions. The 1st is found in v 35-36; rd v 35-36;
I. Following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too (35-36).
exp.: His command is a subj; translated as a command; it softens the command (i.e.: why don’t you take the garbage out to the trash can as you’re going; Let’s pick up your toys before we put the movie on. Both you and the child know that there is a command in the form of an encouragement. Rd v 36; just as he was (ESV) Gk – Lit.: as he was in the boat. HCSB – since he was already in the boat.
app.: so following Jesus means you obey. He says go and you go.
t.s.: following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too. 2nd Principle:
II. Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will never have any problems (37)
exp.: there is a myth that we find way too many preachers pushing in their preaching which says give Jesus your life and your troubles will fly away. They say something like: God has a wonderful plan for your life; I don’t see that in the Scriptures. Think of Christ who died on the Cross, after being tortured. Think of Peter, James, Paul. Did God have a ‘wonderful plan’ for them? The truth is, when you choose to follow Jesus, that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems. Notice 1st: Jesus told them to go. Being God, do you think He knew there would come a storm? Yes! Now, Going, in obedience, they experienced this storm.
Catch this: it isn’t because they disobeyed Christ that storms arose. That is what some preachers preach: you’re in this mess because of sin. No, They were doing as they were told!
Trials and tribulation comes our way and people ask what sin caused this struggle. The answer: Adam’s sin! It has affected us all. And it affects the world!
- Big waves crashing into the boat – those are big waves!
- The boat is filling up with water! What happens when a boat fills with water?
These guys got problems. Here is what gets me: these guys are experts when it comes to handling boats. This ain’t their 1st rodeo. But they’re not responding like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump! They’re scared! And I think I know why they’re scared. Ready for this? They’re scared because they’re not in control. They were just fine when they were in control. But now, they’re not in control anymore. Things have gotten out of hand.
app.: Listen, Following Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems anymore.
t.s.: So what will they do? That leads us to our next principle, #3:
III. Following Jesus means you’re following someone who understands your need (38)
exp.: I love how Peter has recalled this story so vividly. He remembers small details. He remembers the cushion. He remembers Jesus was sleeping while they were at death’s door. But I get this. And, here’s what I want you to take from this verse: Jesus was 100% fully human – minus the sin part! He was asleep! In the stern; He’s human. You probably don’t realize the physical stamina it takes to preach, but it does. Exhausted from the day’s activity of preaching and teaching, his body needed rest. So, he curls up on a cushion.
app.: When you’re life seems out of control – or at least you come to the conclusion that you’re really not in control of things – there is one who can intercede for you because he understands your need. He understands your need for rest. He understands hunger, thirst. Hebrews 4 teaches us…
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
t.s.: There is no one better equipped to handle your problems, than Jesus. Principle #4:
IV. Following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God (38)
exp.: I changed this and made it more palatable from: Following Jesus doesn’t mean you’re immune to asking stupid questions. I liked that one better, but I know it isn’t politically correct anymore to say the word stupid. I don’t know why that word gets canned and so many other words of dubious distinction get a pass. But, stupid is a word – it means lacking intelligence or common sense. It is the common sense part I’d like to focus on. Seriously, I’ve asked this question of Jesus: Don’t you care! And I already know the answer. Have you ever asked a question you know the answer to?
Does Jesus care? Yes!
When you’re in a pickle, does Jesus care? When someone in your family gets sick or hurt, does Jesus care? Does Jesus care who wins the Stanley Cup or the NBA finals? No! But he does care about your life. You know that. The Disciples know that…
app.: But, following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God.
t.s.: Principle #5:
V. Following Jesus means watching him work in amazing, inexplicable ways. (39)
exp.: rd v 39; rebuked the wind! Have you ever rebuked the wind? Possibly. What good did it do? He spoke to the sea! Peace; like shalom? No. This word is more like Be Quiet. Jesus wouldn’t say shut up, so I’m sure it was Be Quiet. Silence! Continue reading: And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
ill.: Paul White (Tall Paul) used to invite me down each year to be a teacher at his Disciple Now weekends. Paul always hosted the best DNows. One year, he brought us all down to Corpus Christi a day early. As a part of the training, he took us out on a sailboat in the Corpus Christi Bay. It was a big sailboat. The problem was – there was no wind. So we just sat there. We had a motor and so we cruised around for a little while, but it wasn’t really that fun.
app.: the disciple had no motor. With no wind now, Christ having answered their prayers, they’ve got some major rowing to do!
t.s.: Finally, principle #6:
VI. Following Jesus through the storms of life will give us a proper perspective of who Christ really is (40-41).
exp.: I worry about this point. I think too often people use this story as a metaphor for life: Jesus will speak peace to the storms of your life. He can. He might. But he might not. But that isn’t the point. The point is that Christ can speak peace to your storm. The point is that He is Lord and he has authority. And even more, the point here, the emphasis of Mark’s story is to show you that Christ is Lord over Nature. Remember, Christ is Lord over
- The natural
- The spiritual
- The physical
- And even death (which seems to me to be a combo of all three.)
Now, these verses identify that the disciples fear the wrong things. In v 40-41 we find one word that appears twice. Fear. However, that is not the case in the Gk text. The first word translated afraid, appears three times in the NT and it means cowardly, timid. Read it this way: Why are you such cowards? Let me ask you: Does that change your understanding of what Christ is saying to these disciples? Why are you such cowards!
ill.: Do you ever feel that way? Problems arise, struggles occur and you find yourself acting like a sissy? God, don’t you care? I have to say that I’m amazed at how many of us respond to life’s struggles with fear and in trepidation. I watch people fall apart over some of the simplest of life’s problems.
I think this goes back to the problems the disciples are having: their problem is they’re no longer in control. Maybe that is the root of your problem: you’re no longer in control – and you want to be. And it causes you to act like a coward who has no faith.
What are we really saying to God as he works in our lives and we respond like this? We’re saying that we don’t really trust him. Not really…
app.: Here, in our text, we see the disciples learn what to fear and what not to fear… or maybe I should say who to fear – and what not to fear; rd v 41a; rd 41b;
t.s.: Who is this? This is the Lord. This is God.
- This is the very One who created the wind and the sea!
- This is the One who sends us into storms and knows what he is doing.
- This is the One who has power to stop those storms with just a rebuke and a word.
- This is the One who knows our needs and cares.
- This is the One who is patient with us, in spite of our sinful condition and desire to be in control.
- This is God in the flesh.
Invitation: if you don’t know this God – Jesus, I offer you the chance to meet him today. Come and find forgiveness of sins and purpose for your life.