Don’t you care!? Peter’s account of the storm (Mark 4.35-41)

29 10 2017

I used the following notes in delivering God’s Word through a narrative preaching style.  I share it so that it may be of some help to others in communicating God’s word in a culture that loves story-telling.

Well, hello. Thanks for coming to hear my story. I’m Peter, by the way. It’s great to see you all. Let me get straight to the point – I know you want to hear about my master. I told Mark the whole story… he’s writing it down. He’s writing a book out of the stories I’ve told him! I told him to call it, “Who is Jesus?’ What d’you think? A best seller? He says he’ll call it Mark’s Gospel.

It had been a great day – one of those memorable days: blue skies, a warm breeze, people basking in the gentle sunshine by the lake. The lake sparkled. Kids played and paddled in the ripples by the shoreline. But the crowd were focused. Jesus, my master, was teaching. He was in my boat by the water’s edge – I’m a fisherman, you see. Oh, you should have been there. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He met their every need, answered their every question.

It was a day of questions really! As I look back I realised the questions we ask in the crowd are different from the questions we ask when we’re alone. If you’re like me, when we’re alone, the bravado is gone. The questions are just for me now. That day I asked both kinds of questions… but the master gave me all the answers. I can’t remember all the questions that day but there were a few that stand out in my memory…

People in the crowd had questions – usually about politics – who’s really going to rule Galilee – or about local gossip – the talk of the town. But I remember his answer about the rule of God in the world… he called it God’s kingdom. He said, it’s like a mustard seed – you’ve seen a mustard seed haven’t you!? So small you wouldn’t know it’s there.  Aye, but he said, when it’s planted and grown it becomes a tree it can take all sorts of birds and offer shade to them.  Now I’m quite a simple man – but I got it! The kingdom of God often is unseen but it’s big enough for everyone! Big enough for me and you. It starts small but if we’ll allow it to grow it soon brings blessing to all of life!

Sorry, let me get back to the point – Mark’s always giving me a row for this… he sorts out my jumbled memories.  Aye, the memorable day… the questions. Yes.

Well, it was late in the afternoon and as evening approached the master was exhausted. He’d been teaching all day. He said, ‘Let’s take the boat to the other side. I need a break.’ It was a lovely evening for a wee sail – it’d be about 2-3 hours across to the other side and we’d arrive just before dark.  Off we went. Some other boats set sail too, following us I think, but maybe just going home. Jesus was no fisherman – a carpenter he was – so James and John helped me as we set off with the usual suspects – The Twelve – they were calling us in those days. We kinda liked it… the twelve. Sorry… I’m away again…  Oh, and so was Jesus – away I mean – sound asleep in the stern before you could say ‘small as a mustard seed’! Ha!

We couldn’t have been even an hour out when the whole scene changed! It’s funny how life can be like that, isn’t it? Everything looks grand, then suddenly all change!  Anyway, I’ve seen a storm or two in my day but this was something else! It was like an earthquake on the sea! The wind came from nowhere – howling. The rain soaked us in minutes. We tore the rigging down but before we could get it stowed the waves were crashing into the boat. With the other disciples, the boat was already fully loaded and low in the water… We bailed like billy-o. The others were useless. Frozen by terror. Cowering in the boat. James, John and I were trying every trick we knew in the book but it was bad. We were going down. Nothing we did seemed to help. The waves were relentless, the storm showed no sign of passing. The wind caused chaos – we couldn’t even hear one another. It was horrible… I thought we were finished…we were gonna die…

Just then, everything seemed to go into slow motion… through the blur of the storm I saw him… the master! The One who had met every need during the day, who answered every question, whose wisdom was above that of any teacher I’d known or heard… and there he was…sleeping. Sleeping! Well, that raised a question! But not the one you might be thinking of… not how can you sleep through all this? My question which I screamed at him from the midst of the storm was this: Don’t you care!? Don’t you care that we’re about to perish!? We’re done for! – don’t you care!?

That’s one question that has stuck with me – haunted me, bothered me, and returned to me many times. It’s one of them questions that marked the day. It was the question that arose when I was at the end of me – at the end of my abilities. I had no more answers, only questions, and I screamed in his face, ‘Why don’t you care?’

Of course, it’s a memorable question for me because he never answered it. Well, he did but not directly, you understand… It was only later I came to realise there was a clear answer… You see, he just got up, raised his hand, and dealt with the storm in my life!  Peace! He said. Peace! Be still… And no sooner were the words out of his mouth than the wind dropped, the sea became eerily calm again – just like there had never been a storm at all. Oh, we were still soaking wet, still with water sloshing around our ankles… but we were saved… We stared at him.  We looked at one another. We had never been in the presence of someone like this. We had a thousand questions of both laughter and delight and terror running through our minds…

But now, for a change, it was his turn–he had questions? 2 questions for us. He asked me two questions as I stood facing him in the boat.

Why are you so afraid? I’ve thought long and hard about that question. What are the things that make me afraid? Not being one of the lads, one of the crowd. Not fitting in. Looking stupid. Asking dumb questions. But he was driving at more than that stuff…

What really makes us afraid? I guess when things are out of control. Beyond my control. When other forces take over that cause despair, destruction, and even death.

When all my smart answers are seen to be as foolish… when I have no answers and… when I have to stand in front of someone like him… to give an account of my big mouth and my unruly thoughts. He’s like that, the master… a true teacher who’s just got your best interests at heart.  He takes you into the storm in order to teach you about who he really is…

Why are we so afraid? Well… because you just spoke to the wind and waves and they obey you. They bowed to your command. They were… are under your control…  In fact, no words were spoken that day… I’ve come to realise all this slowly… it was such a memorable day… and I’m not done telling it… another question… again from the master.

Do you still have no faith? Will you not trust me? Oh my word… this question really got me going. Here I am trying to get to grips with this carpenter from Nazareth who was a great teacher, an outstanding guy… but now he’s suggesting that our very lives were in HIS hands. That ultimately he was in control. Oh sure, we had seen him do some amazing things: same day I met him he healed my mother-in-law who had a fever (I wasn’t sure whether to thank him for that or not!) He healed a paralysed man just be speaking to him, he cast demons out of people with authority, cleansed a man with leprosy for goodness sake – he touched him, and the leprosy left him.

It’s one thing being a spectator, but when you’re in a mess yourself, when YOU need the help, when it seems YOUR life is sinking and maybe no longer worth living, he comes saying, Will you not trust me? Will YOU not trust ME? He even spoke about forgiveness for all the things of the past that debilitate and incapacitate us now… he forgave me. I received his forgiveness and he made me a new man – I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for Jesus.

There was one last question that day. After all Jesus the master had taught us we were still stuck with one big question. I know the answer now, but it wasn’t so easy then.  It took some time – like waiting for a mustard seed to sprout. But I got the answer. It burst through into my consciousness in a moment really, like a revelation from heaven itself.  And I’ve proved the answer. And you will never convince me otherwise.

The big question was and still is today: who is Jesus? I just blurted the answer out one day: Jesus is the Saviour, the Son of God.  He can be trusted to save me completely wherever life takes me. No matter what storm. No matter what mess. No matter what…  I’ve let him down may times but he’s never let me down. I’d trust him in any situation – I’d trust him with my whole life.

I hope you will too…