This Sunday, July 5th, we are having a ‘Friends and Family Day’ and YOU are invited! We will have Bible Class at 9:30, Worship at 10:30, and then a meal together at noon. We would love for you to be present for this day! The theme of the morning message is THE POWER OF FAITH and comes from Mark 6:1-13.
SWAMPED Mark 4:35-41
It is easy to become fearful when the terrors of life have us feeling swamped – but where will we turn when we think we are going to sink? There are many fearsome things that we face in life. Some turn to drugs, relationships, crime, hate. Some give up and decide to commit suicide. In 2012 – 41,149 suicide deaths reported in US. It is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. Though many people do give up, there are far many more who recognize that they are in danger in their lives and fear takes control. Where do you turn when you think you’re going to sink?
Mark 4:35-41 (NRSV)
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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?” 39 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 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?”
Situations Overwhelm Us (Mark 4:37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.) The Disciples faced a storm that shook them to the core. In a boat crossing Galilee these experienced fishermen were usually prepared for storms. Storms come quickly on Galilee, but this one caused them to fear for their lives. The waves were sudden and violent. Matthew uses the word seismos (lit Earthquake!) When you’re swamped … where can you turn when you think you might sink?
Fear Draws Two Wrong Conclusions:
What I see Must be True. Their Faith Could Not See Beyond the Facts VS. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. Facts tell us Jesus is disinterested in their fear. Have you ever felt that way? We can feel alone in our struggle. We can feel overwhelmed by experience of pain. Is Jesus just asleep… looking elsewhere… too busy?
Fear tells me what I see must be true…and What I Feel Must Be True. Vs. 38b-39 they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” What an accusation toward someone who has demonstrated his great care and love for all! When I’m afraid, hurt, struggling, in pain, doesthat mean Jesus doesn’t care? When you’re swamped … where can you turn when you think you might sink?
JESUS speaks peace into our storms (Vs. 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” ) Be Still – lit ‘Be muzzled’! What voices need to be muzzled in your life today?
He Gives us Peace in the storm… Of Sorrow – telling us we will meet our loved ones again. Of Problems that bring tension and anxiety. When we do not know what to do or which way to take. Of Worry when we don’t know what we will face next.
Jesus speaks to us of a Father whose hand will never cause His child a needless tear and of a love beyond which neither we nor those we love can ever drift. ~ William Barclay
Jesus speaks faith into our fear. Mark 4:39b-40 Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Sudden calm … peace … silence. Fear dissipates and peace overtakes us when we hear the voice of Jesus. Verse 41 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?”
…For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in[b] him all things hold together.
We are going to face some storms that will be earthquakes to our faith. Look beyond the facts / look beyond your feelings. Look to Jesus. In this chapter Jesus has encouraged us in parables that faith …
*Grows in receptive hearts – are we receptive?
*Faith isn’t to be hidden under a basket
*Faith grows under God’s power, not ours.
*Faith starts off small but it does grow!
Consider the storms that the disciples were going to face (next chapter is the Gerasene Demoniac!)… consider the storms the church will face (persecution). Early Christian art often depicted the Church this way in paintings and mosaics – Christ in a boat with his followers. Christ shares the boat with us. Because of that, the boat will never sink. (Hughes)
Consider your storms … right now … where do you turn when you think you might sink? Swamped by life’s circumstances?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/frequently-asked-questions
Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 3
Mark, Preaching the Word series, R. Kent Hughes
Daily Bible Study, William Barclay
Step Into The Mystery
There are many mysteries that defy explanation (Easter Island, Great Sphinx, Bermuda Triangle). God has invited you to step into a mystery when you stepped into the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God exists with a shroud of mystery: we cannot know all the ways of God. We are stepping into the mystery of God’s great work in this universe and the results are explosive, even if we never see them.
Mark 4 Contains 4 Agricultural Parables (Sower & Soils, Bushel Basket, Growing Seed & Mustard Seed).
Mark 4:26-32 (NRSV)
“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
In these two plain and simple parables are some invitations to step into the mystery of God’s work…
Step Into the Mystery of Sowing.
Mark is the only one who shares the Parable of the Growing Seed. (Mark 4:26-29). There is an acknowledgment of mystery here (vs. 27). Jesus explains the process but for it all to work a sower must sow the seed. Both of these parables require a sower.
Perhaps it is one of God’s mysteries why He uses us to sow the word.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
As much as we might like God to just give us the harvest now, He requires… that we be sowers … that we depend on Him for results. How can we sow the Kingdom in our community?
Step in to Mystery of Waiting.
The Work of Kingdom Happens in Stages – not at once. There is a ‘progression’ of the Kingdom. ‘Seed would sprout and grow’.‘The earth produces of itself … first stalk, then head, then full grain’. ’Seed sown grows up … puts forth large branches’ In neither of these parables does the farmer go to sleep and wake up with a ready garden nearby!
Barclay: We often feel that for all that we can do it is hardly worth while starting a thing at all. But we must remember this – somebody must start everything; everything must have a beginning. Nothing emerges full- grown. It is our duty to do what we can; and the cumulative effect of all the small efforts can in the end produce an amazing result.
How long will you patiently keep sowing and waiting? Or do we give up?
Barclay: A tree can split a concrete pavement with the power of its growth. A weed can push its green head through an asphalt path. Nothing can stop growth … nothing can stop the purposes of God.
Psalm 90:4-6 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning; 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
Step Into The Mystery of Ending.
The sower is heading toward a specific ending (vs 29). Harvest is the conclusion of the matter. An End-Time Harvest. In Matthew’s account of the Parable of the Sower and Seeds, he explains an end time harvest application:
Matthew 13:38-40 “…the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.”
John 4:35-36 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.”
An Eternal Home (32 the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.). It is a mystery how an eternal home comes from such noble beginnings. The small mustard seeds become home to the birds.
God’s kingdom is not in stalemate nor decline. No matter what we do not understand about what’s going on in the Kingdom – beyond whatever natural
forces are at work, the kingdom is on a growth pattern even if we do not detect it.
When we step into the Kingdom we are stepping into a mystery of God being at work and using our small efforts to raise up big results. After the parable that begins this chapter – about the sower and the seed – Jesus says, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God….” (Mark 4:11). We step into the mystery of sowing, waiting, harvesting.
Helpful Resource is Dr. John Mark Hick’s entry on Kingdom Parables located HERE.