Title: Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!
Text: Mark 6:45-56
50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
“The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock.”
These are the words of St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, from a sermon preached around 400 AD. He was sent into exile for his faith … which led ultimately to his death.
“Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise; they cannot sink the boat … of Jesus. What are we to fear … Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile … ‘The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods … We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats; I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death or do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.”
Fear can consume us all whether it is financial, personal, or medical. The Rock upon which our faith is built is Christ.
He is the rock of refuge.
He is the place of comfort.
He is the pavilion of rest.
He is the gift of mercy.
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:18
That rock … is Christ Jesus our Lord!
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat [Luther sees the boat as a metaphor for the church] and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
Jesus compels the disciples to leave. Maybe there was unwillingness on their part but Jesus made them get into the boat. He dismisses the crowds and then as is consistent with Jesus, no matter the crowds or the work or the distractions … Jesus prays.
47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, [also seen as a metaphor for the chaos of the world broken in sin, death and the devil]
and [Jesus] was alone on the land.
By this time … the boat was a far way off.
The wind and waves were against the boat and the disciples … as life at times can be.
The storms can come, and at times it is with wind, rain, and hail. Tree limbs can break, homes and cars can be damaged, and power for some … can be lost.
You have experienced storms and so have I. Storms can come without warning and fear can be greatest … when we least expect it.
Jesus spent almost the entire night, after the disciples departed, in prayer.
The fourth watch would be late, between 3 AM and 6 AM. It can be the darkest part of the night or just before the grayness of dawn gives way to morning, and the disciples were fighting against the waves of the sea and the wind which were against them.
[Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. Mark 6:48b
If you’ve ever been up most of the night you might understand the disciple’s distress. The wind, the waves … 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified.
Christ calms the storms of life!
As a pastor, I get to visit quite a few people at the hospitals, care facilities and in their homes. Some are dealing with minor procedures while others have grave and serious concerns. Some just deal with the problems of age and the uncertainty of life. It is always a joy though to be asked to pray for those who need a comforting word at a time of great worry and fear.
Christ brings that type of peace.
This past Monday all seemed normal for the beginning of the work week. I went in to church, started my sermon preparation and work on things for my Elders meeting and confirmation this fall. I went hope at to feed my dogs and have lunch. While I was putting my plate in the dishwasher I thought I should call Trudy and see if I could make a visit. Her phone didn’t pick up it just beeped. It seemed odd to me. I thought I’d go back to church but something caused me to think … I’ll just drive to her apartment. If she is not there I’ll call her daughter and see what’s up.
Trudy is about 4 miles from me si it didn’t take long to get there. As I walked to her home her window blinds were drawn which is not normal. I peeked in the crack in the blind and could see the TV on. I banged a bit harder on the door and then heard a voice … “Help me.”
The door was locked so I called 911. I gave them the apartment number but couldn’t remember the street and wrestled with the dispatcher who was asking many questions for clarification and it was becoming frustrating to me. Fear was coming upon me as I only wanted to get the door open so I could check on Trudy.
I told the lady on the phone, “Look, I’m getting a bit frustrated and I’m about ready to bust this door down.” To which she calmly said, “You can do that and we even encourage it but just make sure she isn’t behind the door.”
Just then a young man from another apartment came out side. I asked him if he could call and get a security person to open the door. He did, but there was no answer and he asked … did you try the back door? I forgot about the door wall and ran around the back of the complex. When I reached Trudy’s door I pulled. It opened! There was Trudy on the floor. She was sitting and in some pain but looked clear headed and stable.
She said to me “I have been sitting and praying. Thank you so much for coming. I heard you on the phone but I couldn’t get up.”
For it is Jesus who says: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
I’ve told many of you that it is such a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I get to bring the Lord’s word and gifts to those in need who can’t get to church. Last Monday God brought Trudy’s prayers directly to me in a special way so that her need and her prayers could be answered immediately.
Apart from God’s word of forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit we all would be consumed with fear at the despair and trials of life and weight of our sins.
Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!
The trials of life and the storms that attack us can’t diminish the Love of God for you his beloved redeemed children.
51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,
Jesus is the peace beyond all understanding.
54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard [Jesus] was.
The needs of body and soul are always at peace in Christ because he loves you and has given his life so that you might live.
56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit