Do You Not Care 6-24-18

In this sermon, based on Mark 4:35-41, I explore Jesus’ action in the calming of the storm, as well as the terrified question posed by the disciples “Do you not care?”

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

How many people out there remember Happy Days? (pause) For those of you out there who are not fortunate enough to remember Happy Days, let me set the stage for you. It was a great sit-com, aired back in the 70’s and featured life in Milwaukee Wisconsin in the 50’s. There were a lot of different characters featured on the show…but in my opinion, Happy Days features the character who is, arguably, the coolest character to ever grace the tv screen.

Arther Fonzarelli, better known to the world as Fonzi.  He was…the greatest…so cool…so suave…He never had a hair out of place, even though he carried a comb in his back pocket just in case. He was tough loner, but he cared about people. And he had this mystique about him…an aura of cool…he was so cool that no one questioned him when referred to the Men’s room in the local burger joint as “his office.”  He could snap his fingers and girls would flock to him.

And not only that…but it seemed like he had some sort of power. Want to hear a specific song on the Jukebox…Fonzi would smack it and that song would start playing.  If the street light was out…he could kick the wall…and the light would come on.  If you’re thirsty…he knew just how to bump the pop machine to make one drop out.  (pause)

Now I don’t think we want to say that Fonzi was Jesus by any means…but maybe just maybe we can say that he had some Jesus-like abilities to make things happen that seem impossible. Something we see Jesus do in today’s story. (pause)

Now I love this story…still early on in Mark’s gospel. Jesus has been teaching, telling parables and revealing truth of the kingdom of heaven. He’s been displaying the power of God through various healings…he’s even exerted authority over unclean spirits, ordering them to be silent…and to come out of people. And all the while he’s attracting great big crowds…surely he’s got no trouble getting an audience.

But right here in the midst of it…after a long day of doing all of that stuff…Jesus decides its time for a break…and he takes the disciples, hops in a boat and they take off across the Sea of Galilee, departing in the evening in order to go across to the other side.

Now here’s the thing about the Sea of Galilee…it’s a great big lake, so big that you can’t really see the whole thing, especially when its dark or when its misty out…and its sits down kinda low…in fact the whole thing is pretty much surrounded by mountains…granted they aren’t great big towering peaks, but if you’re down there on the water, it sorta feels like your inside a bowl, completely surrounded by high ground.

Now most of the time, being down in that bowl, its pretty calm…its actually a very beautiful place to be with crisp blue water and rolling green hills shooting up the fronts of those surrounding mountains…and the water itself is USUALLY really calm…like flat calm, with no waves whatsoever.

But the thing about that ring of mountains…they block out the weather that can boil up unexpectedly…and if you’ve ever seen a storm come boiling up over a mountain peak and then come rolling down at you…you know how sudden it can happen and how scary it is when you are out there in the open with no protection.

And this is exactly what happens as the boat carrying Jesus and the disciples is moving across the middle of the sea.  Now remember, it was evening when they left and Jesus has been actively ministering to countless people the entire time…so maybe its not surprising that he’s konked out in the back end of the boat. Its probably the middle of the night by this point and the dudes tired.

And yet as he sleeps, in roars a great storm…and I can only imagine how strong it must have been. Think about it…at least 4 of the disciples were fishermen…individuals who make a living by taking a boat out on the sea of Galilee night after night. Rest assured these guys have been out here during a storm or two before…and yet, we hear that they are all freaking out…even the fishermen…because the wind is howling and the waves are breaking over the boat…if you’ve ever watched Deadliest Catch you can probably imagine just what its like out there.

We hear that the boat is already filling up…and the storm just keep going…and the disciples are pretty well convinced that their number’s up…and this is it…our lives are over…we are done…there’s nothing that we can do to stop it.

Have you ever been in a situation like that…one where you feel utterly powerless…and you don’t know if you’re getting out of it or not? I can tell you, its terrifying. (pause)

Now…what if you had someone in the boat with you who has displayed some mind-blowing things…someone who can cure a disease just by talking about it…someone who can silence a demon with an order…someone who even seems to claim the authority of God. Maybe he could do something about this mess…but where is he?

He’s over there…sleepin…Jesus…DUDE!!!!! Do you not care that we are perishing? This madness is going on…and you’re asleep? Don’t…you…care? (pause)

I want to jump off and talk about that for just a moment…because this particular statement or question in this case, doesn’t show up very often in the scriptures. Its here in Mark’s account of this story, but the other gospels don’t use it when they tell the story.  In addition, it only shows up 3 other times.

When Jesus visits Mary and Martha’s house and Mary’s sitting at Jesus feet while Martha hustles and bustles around, she asks Jesus “Do you not care that she’s left me the work?”  (pause) Jesus uses it in the parable of the Good Shepherd when he reminds us that Shepherd loves the sheep, but the hired hand runs away…because he does not care…about them. (pause) And finally when Judas starts squawking about costly perfume being wasted when the funds could be given to the poor, we’re reminded that he’s a thief who only wants the funds for himself, because he doesn’t care about the poor. (pause)
Jesus, do you not care? (pause) Now we don’t have to look very far to see that of course Jesus cares…because he takes one look at this devastating storm…and he rebukes it…he silences it…he literally puts a muzzle on the wind and the waves with the words that he says…the very same thing he has said when casting out demons as a matter of fact…and instantly…just like Fonzi smacking the jukebox to cue up the right song…the wind and waves go flat and the sea returns to the flat calm that it is known for.

At this point, it does seem like Jesus gets a little short with the disciples…who knows, maybe he’s just annoyed that they woke him up. But he asks them where is your faith? Do you not trust me? Do you not believe that I’ve got this…that’s I’ve got you and your best interest in mind?

Their response, well, its kinda telling…because to say that they were filled with awe isn’t quite right…in fact their terrified…literally fearing a great fear even AFTER Jesus has calmed the storm…maybe they’re even more terrified now that he’s done it…because who is it that can do something like this?

How would you respond if someone stood up in the middle of a tornado…told the storm Shut Up…and it listened? I can imagine that would be a little freaky…especially on top of the literal fear for their lives they’d been experiencing right up to that point.

Now maybe we’re thinking, it’s the disciples, they’re the ones that should expect Jesus to do this…but remember, they haven’t seen a death and resurrection yet…these are the same guys who need Jesus to explain every parable, and still don’t seem to understand…the same guys who follow him around for 3 years and still seem to fail at every turn.

So what do we make of it? This fear that they experience…the doubt…the questions in their mind at this terrifying moment that lead them to ask “Do you not care?” (pause)

Maybe we chalk it up to human nature…and the fear that we all feel when we encounter the unknown…the things that bigger than us…the powers that overshadow us…those events or catastrophes…those injuries or illnesses…those instances when we witness human beings committed utter atrocities to other human beings…and we wonder…are you out there God…how can this happen? Do you care? (pause)

Well I propose this…Yes…God cares…Yes…Jesus…cares. Because the disciples are forgetting something here.  Not long before this happened…once Jesus had begun his public ministry and started attracting those great big crowds, he stepped off to the side and called these 12 people to him…he chose them…calling the ones that he wanted.

And in this instance…Jesus intentionally left the huge crowds behind and took with him, only these guys.  “Do you not care?”  To which Jesus can say “Of course I care…I have chosen you…you are mine.” (pause)

The glory of the gospel is that God choses us. As we are…no pretest…no ritual…no bar to reach…we are chosen out of God’s amazing love for each of us…and this is what we celebrate in Holy Baptism…the promise that has ALREADY been made on our behalf that God has claimed us…and in just a few moments…that’s what we’ll celebrate with Wesley…that he has been chosen by God…just as we all are.

Let me be clear…in the waters of baptism, we celebrate the promise which has already been made…God’s the one doing the work…not the pastor…not the parents or God-parents…and not the individual. This is God’s action within our lives.  Action that serves as an ongoing promise that WHATEVER may occur…God’s got you and the last word will belong to God.  A promise which allows us to respond in any situation, scary though it might be…with hope.  Let us be encouraged and cling to the same promise which Wesley receives today, which has also been spoken to us.

Do you not care?  (pause) Of course I do…for you…are…mine. Amen.

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