IN THE STEPS STOPS OF JESUS…INTERRUPTED WHILE SLEEPING
September 3, 2017
You just never know when your day is going to be interrupted with an opportunity to care for another person…or creature.
Friday a week ago, Houston cab driver William Bruso was picking up supplies prior to Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. When he returned to his car, lo and behold there was a hawk sitting in the front passenger seat. And despite Bruso’s best efforts to shoo him out, the hawk refused to leave. The bird appeared to have a hurt wing.
So Bruso did a very kind thing. He christened the hawk Harvey and brought it home with him. The disaster created an unlikely friendship. The two hunkered down and rode out the storm together. Later this past week Bruso took the hawk to the local Texas Wildlife Center for treatment and to be released back into the wild.
Harvey the Hurricane Hawk!
You just never know who or what might interrupt your day…or your night.
We often talk about walking in the steps of Jesus. But did you ever stop to think that it is in the stops of Jesus, the interruptions, where most of his ministry takes place. The disruptions, the disturbances, to our Lord’s daily routine provide the stage where some amazing interventions happen.
We hear the following account in Mark 4:
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion….
Yes, today we encounter the two natures of our Lord. We see
JESUS, THE EXHAUSTED SON OF MAN
Now some people can sleep through most anything. In fact, some of you are snoring right in the middle of my sermon right now! But to sleep through a raging storm on a lake in a tiny boat with winds howling and waves breaking and lightning streaking and thunder crashing—now that’s beyond belief! How is this?
Jesus is simply beyond bone-tired. He’s been keeping up an unbelievable pace, traveling from village-to-village around the shoreline of the Galilean Sea. The crowds press in on him wherever he goes, desperate for healing and hope. Today he taught the multitudes about the inner workings of God’s Kingdom for hours on end. And now tonight he finds the stern of the boat to be a welcome respite and retreat for sleep as he and the disciples seek some rest from the constant crowds.
Of all the world’s religions, our Christian faith is the only one that makes the claim that God came down and became one of us. The divine assumed our humanity—laughing as we laugh, crying as we cry, and embracing all the day-to-day of life in between. And to me, that is a reassuring thing, knowing we serve a Lord who empathizes with us.
Little Kelsey woke up screaming in the middle of the night after a bad dream. Her mother came running to her room. She comforted her daughter, got her some water, did a quick check of the closet and under the bed for monsters, tucked her in and told her good-night.
Upon closing the door, mom heard Kelsey whimpering again. “What’s wrong, Kelsey?” “I’m still scared!” “Well, just talk to God…he’ll make it okay.” To which Kelsey replied, “But, mom, I need a God with skin on!”
Let us remember that, in Jesus, we see God incarnate—God with skin on! Jesus took on our humanness that he might empathize with our brokenness. Jesus took on our likeness that he might empathize with our limitations. He cares. And that’s why we see our Lord in the stern of the boat sleeping thru a monster of a storm. He’s tired!
But this same Lord who is the Exhausted Son of Man is also…
CHRIST, THE EXALTED SON OF GOD
The Sea of Galilee has always been notorious for its storms. The come literally out of the blue with shattering and terrifying suddenness. One minute the water is calm, placid, glistening like a mirror; then the skies darken, the winds begin to howl, drenching rains pour, and the sea churns with 4-8 foot swells.
In the pitch blackness of the night, a storm is clutching the tiny boat, tossing it to and fro.
The disciples are absolutely petrified. Mind you, these are no weekend pleasure-boaters on Lake Anna. Most of them have grown up making their living from this body of water. They are seasoned fisherman. This must be some violent storm when you see these old salts begin panicking!
Jesus is sleeping serenely. The disciples scream over the turbulence and thunder,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
The divine in Jesus comes out! In Christ, God asserts his authority over darkness and death! Filled with unimaginable, jawdropping wonder and awe, the disciples change their tune from “What a Friend we have in Jesus” to “A mighty Fortress is our God, a Bulwark never failing!”
We are inseparable from the love of God in life’s most perilous moments. In life, in death, in life beyond death, we always belong to him.
Jesus, the exhausted Son of Man, is also Christ, the exalted Son of God, who offers us…
THE GREATEST ASSURANCE…
That no matter how fierce the storms in life may be, Jesus Christ is in the boat with us. We are never alone.
It’s indeed inevitable that all of us are going to encounter rough seas in life’s journey. Our boat is going to be rocked and swamped on occasion. Fear is going to fight us ferociously.
But be certain of this–Jesus Christ is not going to forget us.
Aeisha Nelson and her two small children were trapped in their tiny bayou home in Houston this past week as the floodwaters began rising rapidly around them. Cell phone service had been wiped out by the hurricane. She could not hear her frightened children sobbing over the sheets of rain beating against the windows. She prayed and prayed desperately through the night for rescue.
Meanwhile, early Monday morning a makeshift flotilla of some 20 boats, hauled from Louisiana to Houston, was deploying into the floodwaters. Called the Cajun Navy, this group of volunteers was made up of men who had survived Hurricane Katrina over a decade ago.
One fellow, Joshua Lincoln, had lost everything in that hurricane. He was grateful to God for the many persons who had helped him rebuild his life and home. And now, he felt God’s calling to do the same for others.
Throughout last week, Lincoln and his cohorts made some 500 rescues of desperate, stranded folks. Aeisha Nelson and her children were brought to safety by such selfless, Christ-like, love-driven effort of strangers risking their lives to save her and thousands of others caught in the flood. Jesus Christ was in the boat with them.
Yes, we all encounter times in our life’s journey when the proverbial waters of uncertainty, pain and loss threaten to engulf us. And it can indeed seem like Jesus Christ is asleep.
But be assured, Jesus Christ has not forgotten you. He is ready and willing to be interrupted. Call out. He is in the boat with you. He will calm the waters. He will still the wind. He will work through the caring love of human hands to hold you up and to hold you near. And at the end of this earthly journey, he will receive you to a home not built with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This is our Lord’s promise to us! Believe, and be assured!