Christ Lutheran Church
June 20, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Who is this?
On the evening of that same day Jesus said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and other boats were with him; And a violent storm arose and the waves were breaking into the boat and filling it up; but [Jesus] was in the stern asleep on a pillow. And waking him up they said to him, "Teacher! Do you not care that we are perishing?" And he got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Silence! Be still!" and the wind ceased and the there followed a great calm. And he said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" But they were overwhelmed with fear and kept saying to one another, "Who, exactly is this that both the wind, and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4:35-41) (DKV)
The sum of the Lord’s actions written by St. Mark are not merely a collection of random events of the Lord’s holy life – but they comprise what we could call, “The Liturgy of the Lord’s life as Man,” for his life in this world was nothing else than that. Than a Liturgy of sacrifice that he carried out in obedience to the Father, “for us men and for our salvation.”
And what we hear in today’s gospel, his irresistible power over the chaos of unrestrained winds and waters, is just one segment of that Liturgy from which we will learn many things.
Said another way his life is the “pure Offering” that was prophesied by Malachi 400 years before the Lord’s birth. (Mal. 1:11)
It is the sweet smelling savor of Salvation (Eph 5:1) provided by the Father himself to redeem wretched humanity, and indeed the entire Cosmos that was also ship-wrecked by the sin and the sons of Adam.
But by the Lord’s Great Sacrifice and Offering of his of his holy flesh and blood on the cross, and by his Resurrection – sin is atoned for, the cosmic books are balanced once and for all; and man is once again in solidarity with God.
Now humanity and divinity, heaven and earth, Potter and Clay are no longer in conflict, no longer at war, no longer at enmity – but are united in love and devotion to one another, and made one with the flesh of Christ who IS the church’s Liturgist.
Now the relentless winds and deadly waves of sin, death, Satan, and the culture’s poison that oozes from its every pore is bested, and the flesh’s corruption atoned for by the blood of the cross.
Now turning to the brilliant miracle we behold in today’s gospel, it is a blessing in its own right. A demonstration of what we confess in the explanation to the 1st article,
“He defends me against all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil.”
It is the fulfillment of the 124th Psalm where David writes:
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side; then the flood would have; swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
But above all, this mighty exhibition of power over chaos answers the question of the disciples could not stop asking one another:
“Who then is this?”
It is the question men have stopped asking but must learn to ask again. The question that even many churches have stopped asking, and to which they no longer know the answer. It is the question we must all answer; and there is none more important: “Who is this?” But the answer is not hidden! It is no well-guarded secret!. But is openly proclaimed, and announced by the church throughout the world
Who is this? In the words of the incomparable Christmas Ballad (“What Child Is This?”)
“This, this is Christ the King; whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.”
Who is this?
He is the Lord who scolded cheeky Job in today’s Old Testament lesson; but also the same Lord: “who laid the foundation of the earth; determined its measurements; laid its cornerstone … as the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy! He is Jesus, the One who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb in which it was formed. The One who prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, He is the same LORD who said to the turbulent, deadly waters of chaos at creation: ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed! And who says in today’s Gospel: Peace. Be still. And they obeyed instantly and completely.
Who is this?
He is Jesus who was also prophesied by the life of patient Job. Who (Job) though he was righteous and fully devoted to God suffered with God’s permission the full wrath of Satan. Like Jesus he suffered unjustly. Like our Lord he emptied himself, or more properly was emptied. He lost everything and became nothing. But in the end, like Jesus, he was also:
Raised above his sufferings – and you will be too. Raised from death – and you will be too. And received double in blessing from the hand of the Lord for all that he had lost -- and so will you!
Who is this?
This is Jesus who called St. Paul to be the church’s greatest teacher, but also to suffer more than any other disciple. (Acts 9:15-16) But he is also the Suffering Servant who upheld his Servant Paul in his Suffering. Who strengthened Paul. Consoled Paul. And gave St. Paul an invincible spirit through: “tribulation, necessity, anxiety, distress, beatings, imprisonments, riots, arduous labor, hunger and sleepless nights.”
Who is this?
This is Jesus, the Son of the Most High God who does battle with the chaos of sin. Who goes to war against Satan in the wilderness and overcomes him. Who restores the sick, raises the dead, plunders the “strong man’s house,” expels demons from people long-possessed and commands the otherwise uncontrollable violent forces of nature/creation and every evil that would exterminate us to “be still” – and they obey!
But before we leave today’s anointed readings let us learn one last thing.
We know something that the disciples did not. Namely that though Jesus was asleep and seemingly unaware and unconcerned with the chaos taking over his church – for that is what boat was – he was not going to let his disciples drown. He was not going to let them drown, and he won't let you drown either. Nor will he let his holy church be overcome by the wicked plans of chaos and evil; for not even the very "gates of hell can prevail against her," and "one little word can fell him."
He may test our faith. Indeed he does. Daily. Even as he did the disciples’ that day in the boat. But may we patiently learn what they learned: That while untested faith is of little worth; tested faith makes us: stronger in Christ; more capable in Christ; more confident in our God; more resolute in service to the Lord; and faith conquers all things. Peace. Be still. Amen.