Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost 

Option A: From Rev. Kelly Bedard 

Silencing The Storms
Mark 4:35-41

A. Storms of Nature

    1. Words of faith: "You can help us!" 

    2. Words of fear: "Don't you care?"

B. Storms of Nurture

    1. Words of power: "Quiet! Be still!"

    2. Words of peace: "completely calm" (see note 3 below)


1. From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Christ was asleep in the storm to try the faith of His disciples and to stir them up to pray."

2. From the Commentary On The Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871). "There is a natural apprehension under danger; but there was unbelief in their fear. It is worthy of notice how considerately the Lord defers this rebuke [until] He had first removed the danger, in the midst of which they would not have been in a state to listen to anything."

3. From "Still in One Peace," Commentary, Animating Illustrations, Quotations, Worship Resources, and Children's Sermon. Homiletics Online, 1994. "Jesus does not promise to calm every storm in your life. Jesus does promise to calm you in every storm of life."

4. Exegetical notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks. "While we may pray that Jesus would work miracles in our lives and in our world and in our neighborhoods, the miracles that come probably won't let us off the hook from doing some of the hard work required to do what Jesus has called us to do."

5. From "Does Jesus Care?" A Sermon by The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon, June 22, 1997, Mark 4:35-41. Sermons from Duke University Chapel. "Perhaps you thought that there would be smooth sailing with Jesus. You thought that, with Jesus in the boat, there would be no storm, no waves, no fear. No. Almost every page of Mark's gospel proclaims that Jesus is the center of a storm." 

Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div..

Option B: From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

When Jesus Seems Asleep In Your Boat
Mark 4:35-41

Introduction: The Motion Picture "The Perfect Storm" has been the best-selling movie for the last two weeks. Apparently many movie-goers wish to experience waves as tall as 10-story buildings. Jesus' disciples ran into a furious squall on the Sea of Galilee while he was sleeping on the cushion where the helmsman sits. They thought their lives were at risk and they cried out to Jesus for help. 

Mark, the Gospel writer, gives us some important truths to remember:

1)      Remember that He shares our humanity

  A. He felt the weakness of a physical body--John 4:6 & 19:28

  B. He felt and understands human needs--Matt. 4:2

  C. He understands all our temptations to fear and to doubt--Heb. 4:15

2) Remember His care for you, too

A.     Sometimes we question His care for us too, as the disciples did in the  almost-swamped boat--v.38

B.     His compassion for mankind brought him here to be our Savior--Mark 9:36

C.     He can stop the storm or save those caught in it--Acts 27:20

 3)      Remember that He is the Almighty God

A.     He stills the storm, as the winds and waves obey Him--vv. 39-41

B.     It is He whose powerful Word called all nature, all creation into existence--John 1:3

C.     His comforting presence calms fear in all the changing scenes of life--Acts 27:33-37

The New Commentary on the Whole Bible adds these notes about the humanity and the divinity of Jesus: 

1) Mark 4:38 "He was asleep on a pillow"-This is the only time in the entire Bible we ever read of Jesus sleeping. Mark is the  only writer who mentions it, but the picture of Jesus sleeping on a pillow graphically depicts his total humanity.

He was exhausted after teaching all day from the same cramped boat in which he now tries to make himself comfortable enough to catch a little sleep. He falls so sound asleep that  even the storm cannot stir him. "Master, don't you even care that we are all about to drown?" (TLB).

When men who had spent their whole lives on the water talked about drowning, it must have been serious. They were so scared they forgot all about who was with them in the boat, and all the amazing things they had seen him do. They could think of only one thing-their own safety.

2) Mark 4:39 "Peace, be still"-lit. "be muzzled." This is the same verb Jesus used when he told the demon to be quiet (1:25). The wind ceased, and there was a great calm-The high waves dropped instantly and the sea was as smooth as glass. There was not a breath of wind. 

It couldn't have been enough just to turn off the wind since a rough sea would take quite a while to settle down. That is why Jesus commanded both the wind and the sea to obey him. One minute Jesus was curled up on a cushion sleeping-the perfect picture of humanity. The next minute he was ordering the elements to obey him with all the divine authority of the One who made them. 

3) Mark 4:41: "What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"-They all knew the Psalms that spoke of Yahweh's majestic mastery of the elements (see Ps. 89:9; 93:4), but right there in the boat with them was a man, just like them, who had just demonstrated the same power, and with only a few words. 

They were amazed beyond words that someone who had been so sound asleep could so quickly and so quietly take charge and command calm. They  asked the only possible question that could come to their minds, "What kind of man is this?" It is a question that people are still asking today. Let us bow before him in humble faith, as they did.

As a mother stills her child, 
You can hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey your will,
When you say to them: "Be still."
Wondrous Sovereign of the Sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me."

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

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