Who is this Jesus?
- Order of Service: Word and Sacrament, CW p26
- Lessons: Job 38:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, Mark 4:35-41
- Hymns: 353, 196, 415, 382
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
When Luther discussed the second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, you know, Jesus, in his Small Catechism he wrote some of the most amazing words ever:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.
He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.
All this He did that I should be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as He has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.
But when he discussed God the Son, Jesus, in his Large Catechism, he really zeroed in on just one word of that masterful explanation: Lord. In Luther’s words, when we see Jesus we see what we have from God over and above the temporal goods mentioned before. We see how He has completely poured forth Himself and withheld nothing from us….He came from heaven to help us. So those tyrants and jailors are all expelled now. In their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation. He has delivered us poor, lost people from hell’s jaws, has won us, has made us free, and has brought us again into the Father’s favor and grace. He has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection so that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness. (Large Catechism, II:26, 29-30).
This Jesus Mark shows us in one of the more familiar accounts from Jesus’ ministry: the calming of the sea: On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him” (Mark 4:35-41, HCSB)!
As the wind whips sails uncontrollably, as wave after waves after waves splash into the boat, threatening to swamp it, Peter and John and James and their friends look to the back of the boat and see sleeping Jesus. Their Lord. They even call Him “Lord,” tonight, according to Matthew, when they cry out, “Lord, save us, we’re going to die!” You wonder if that came before or after shaking a napping Christ, and asking a groggy Jesus, “Hey, don’t you care about us at all? We’re drowning here!”
They didn’t quite get their Lord, yet. With their eyes they saw Jesus cast out demons that called Him the Son of God. They saw Him tell a fever to go away. They saw him unshrivel a man’s hand. They saw Him make a paralyzed man walk again. They heard Him forgive sins. And now they immediately assume that this same Jesus who picked them to be fishers of men must hate them. “Don’t you care at all?”
They might not yet get their Lord, but they get to see their Lord in action. Jesus shows Himself to be the athlete who can roll out of bed, walk up to the plate and hit a home run. Jesus shows Himself to be the genius who can read 1,500 pages for a research paper the night before, sit down and write an A+ in a couple of hours. Jesus shows Himself to be the kind of doctor who can say to cancer, “Stop metastasizing” and the meteorologist who can say, “Rain, stop!” Oh, wait, there are no such doctor’s or meteorologists. This obviously tired MAN shows Himself to be the begotten from all eternity GOD who is our Lord. He wipes the sleep from His ways, hears His disciples frightened cries and says, “Quiet, wind! Stop that, sea!” Jesus shows Himself to be the kind of guy, the kind of Lord, the kind of God who can speak and expect results, who can bend anything and everything to His will. Anything. Everything. If Jesus were playing Texas Hold ‘em, it’d be no limits.
And like a rebuked child, the wind stopped and the seas calmed. Jesus showed Himself to be as much Lord over the Sea of Galilee as He had been Lord over the Red Sea when He parted those waters. Going back even further, to the beginning of creation, as the LORD reminded Job: Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garments and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt (Job 38:8-11, NIV84). Jesus says so, the storms and water did so. The wind died down and it was completely calm.
Then those terrible words, “Considering that I, your Lord, your God, am in this boat, why are you afraid?” And before they can answer that, the even more terrible words: Do you still have no faith? A couple other English translations, including the venerable King James Version put the question this way: How is it that you have no faith? “How is it possible, you guys?” Maybe you want to excuse the disciples. After all, this was the first real nature miracle. Healings, exorcisms, teaching. Probably others had come before doing, or purporting to do such things. But this? Their minds wrestled to grasp it. And not for the last time would they hear it, “Don’t you believe yet?” They’ve seen the sick healed. They’ve seen demons exorcised. They’ve seen the winds and the waves obey. They’ve heard incredible parables and explanations. And still they ask, “Who is this?” Still they can’t draw the logical conclusions that they must draw if they believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They didn’t even yet get the irony of asking Jesus to do something for them at the same time as they were saying, “Don’t you care about us?” Come on guys! This is a forehead slapping D’uh! Moment if ever there was one. Only much later, after the disciples see Jesus rescue Peter from drowning when he tried to walk on water like Christ, do the disciples get together in agreement and say what they’d heard demons confess: “This is the Son of God.”
Don’t be so dense. Don’t be so faithless. You may cry with the psalmists, Why have you forsaken me? and Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? and Has God forgotten to be merciful (Psalms 22, 10, 77, NIV84)? Don’t be so foolish and unbelieving as to think any of those things are true. They’re only apparent. Baal sleeps. Money forsakes. Friends stand far off. Medicines hide. Governments fail. The Lord does not. Jesus does not. Not even when He’s that tiny baby nursing at his mother’s breast or asleep in His crib. Not even when He sleeps in the back of a boat. Not even when He lays dead in a tomb. Even then He remains true God in complete control. He only waits until you are sufficiently prepared, sufficiently chastised, sufficiently in need, or whatever other purpose He has in mind.
Who is this Jesus? He masters nature. He teaches souls. He is God come in the flesh. But all of this just foreshadows, precurses, sneak previews. Again, in the words of Luther, the little word Lord means simply the same as redeemer (LC, II:31). Jesus bought back the disciples’ life from this sudden storm. A little preview of the buying back Jesus our Lord did of us. Buying us back from God’s wrath, buying us back from the devil’s rule, death’s rule, sin’s rule. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy, previous blood and with His innocent suffering and death. All this He did that I should be His own. The Lord’s. His. Spared. Dry. Rowing calmly, knowing that He has fully in hand whatever might come: storms, recession, cancer, death. Knowing that all things are subject to Him, including me. Now and into eternity. Here rests our salvation. Here rests our happiness. Jesus is my Lord. Amen.