The Gospel Story: Who is this man, Jesus?
Luke 5:1-11, Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 14:22-33
Rev. Sandy Johnson
August 6, 2017
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen
I love jigsaw puzzles, anyone else? When I was young, my family had a beach house and we always had a puzzle going. Usually it was an ocean scene, or a landscape, those were always my favorite. We spent most weekends and summer months at our cabin and when the weather was especially bad, we would sit by the fire and work on a puzzle.
I took that tradition forward when I became an adult and every vacation, especially those at the beach, I would pick up a new puzzle and enjoy some downtime fitting pieces into the puzzle to create a beautiful picture. Now of course they have puzzles on the iPhone! There’s an app for that! So, now I can quiet my mind and give myself a break in the evenings. While I’m watching television, I sit down with my iPad and open up “Magic Puzzles.”
The thing about puzzles is that you have a photo of what it will look, like in the end, right? If you get stuck you can pick up the box and look at the photo, checking the color detail or the photo to see if you can identify this small slice of the photo and get it close to where it goes on the finished product.
In our scripture lessons this morning, it is sort of like a puzzle, each story giving a clue about who Jesus is, except that the disciples didn’t have the finished photo to look at. It was a mystery of sorts, that was playing out before them, as they got to know Jesus and followed him through the towns along the Sea of Galilee. One story at a time, one experience at a time, one miracle at a time, a piece of the puzzle was put into place, as they pieced together the answer to the question of the day, “Who is this man, Jesus?”
You see, the disciples really didn’t know who or what they were dealing with. They knew Jesus was a teacher, perhaps a prophet, a rabbi for sure, but at this point in their relationship, they barely had the edge pieced together to form the frame. They really had no idea who this man Jesus was. The stories from our scripture this morning give us some clues, some small pieces that will help us identify the man, Jesus.
In the first story, Jesus was out walking along the Galilee near Capernaum, praying, thinking or maybe out enjoying a beautiful morning along the shore. He was recognized walking along the beach and people were following, eager to hear him preach. He came upon two brothers, Simon who we know as Peter and his brother Andrew. They had just come back from a nights fishing. In the Galilee, they fish at light with lights, not in the daytime. They believed that in the daytime the fish could see them, so they fished at night to trick the fish!
It was morning time so we know that the fishermen had been up all night! So, Jesus asked Peter if he could use his boat, if they would allow him to go out a little bit into the water, so he could teach without being pressed upon by the crowd. So, Peter helped Jesus into the boat and set the anchor a few feet from shore. When Jesus had finished speaking he asked Peter to head out into deep water and put his nets down for a catch. Peter told him in no uncertain terms that in fact, no, they were tired, they had already worked all night and hadn’t caught a thing. Peter finished his opposition but saying, “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”
You all know what happened right? Peter and Andrew caught so many fish that their nets began breaking. They had to call for help. “Peter’s entire life hinged on a moment when, tired after staying up all night, he let Jesus borrow his boat and then heeded Christ’s call to go out into “deep waters” and let down his net.
Are you paying attention?
These moments come into our lives when Christ needs to borrow our stuff or borrow us, when he nudges us to do what we don’t feel like doing. When we do it simply because Jesus says so, we find ourselves being used by him, and we experience life’s greatest blessings and holiest moments.” Who is this man, Jesus? He demands our attention so we can hear him calling us. When he calls, he asks for our willingness to follow him! One piece of the puzzle revealed.
Our next story happens after a long day of preaching, teaching and healing in Capernaum to another huge crowd. It was evening and time to journey to the opposite side of the lake. Jesus and the disciples climbed into a boat and headed out. The Sea of Galilee is a large lake. The shoreline measures 33 miles around and it is 8-13 miles across. These boys had a long night of rowing ahead of them. Imagine working a long day and then having to row a couple of hours! Jesus himself was exhausted and was asleep in the stern of the boat.
Part way across the lake, a huge storm came up. The wind was roaring and the rain came down in sheets, sort of like it did this week. The boat was rocking heavily back and forth by the force of the wind and the waves. Mark says that the boat was nearly swamped. So, here the men are, miles from shore, in water that was 150 feet deep and Jesus is sleeping, unaware of the storm that was raging. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” “Hello, Jesus! We’re dying here!” Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind – “Peace! Be still!!” And the wind and the rain stopped and there was a dead calm. Oh, ye of little faith! “Who is this man, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” “In that moment Jesus demonstrated that he was the Lord over the forces of the deep, and over the wind and the rain.”
The pieces of the puzzle are filling in, they know that he is teacher, but they are beginning to see that the man they are following spoke to the wind and it obeyed him. Is it possible that God was literally in their midst? Is Jesus in our midst today? Is he in our boat with us? Are we willing to be so close to Jesus that when we question and we are afraid, we will accept a rebuke from him? Have we still so little faith?
The last lesson this morning is the story of Jesus walking on the water. After a long day of preaching, healing, teaching and casting out demons in Bethsaida, Jesus sent his disciples ahead, across the Sea and he told them he would join them later. He stayed behind to dismiss the crowds and then went off by himself to pray. Notice here that Jesus models for us so beautifully that we all need time alone to spend with God. As the evening moved into night and then early morning, it was time for Jesus to meet up with the disciples.
Jesus began walking across the lake he noticed the wind was battering their boat. As he came near the boat, they were terrified, sure that what they were seeing was a ghost. Jesus spoke to them, reassuring them that it was him and to not be afraid. If I was in the boat with the disciples I’d be asking Jesus to get into the boat with them, after all the last time there was a storm Jesus took total care of them. But that’s not what happened.
Instead Peter challenges Jesus and says, “Hey, Jesus, if it’s really you, command me to step out onto the water with you.” Be careful what you ask Jesus for! Jesus told Peter, “come on!” Peter stepped out of the boat and had a laser-like focus on Jesus. But something distracted him, something caused his concentration to wane and he looked down in time to see himself falling into the water. No longer able to stand on the water with Jesus. Surely, he was going to drown. Not on Jesus watch! Jesus reached his hand out to Peter and immediately caught him. “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Getting into the boat, the wind ceased and they were surrounded by calm.
Who is this man, Jesus, who walks on water and calms yet another storm? How is it that he is there when we are in our greatest time of need, walking out of the darkness and challenging us in our faith, and providing comfort when we need it most. As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, a picture comes into focus. This man Jesus, isn’t a man at all. He’s our savior, he’s our redeemer, he’s our deliverer. He is the one who calls us and challenges us to follow him, who helps us out of the boat, pushing us to expand our faith.
He’s the one that lifts us up when we start to drown. He comes to us in the middle the night and calms the storm that is raging within us and all around us. Jesus is the one who we put our hope in. As the puzzle is completed, the picture before us is God, in the form of a man, sent to live among us. A God-man who took the ultimate sacrifice for each of us, today. The man Jesus, reveals his divinity; he is the Savior of the world.
Let us pray: Gracious Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to us in your son Jesus. Help us to follow him and find comfort in his example. Give us the courage to be his disciple, not just in words, but by our actions. Amen.
 Luke 5:5b
 Hamilton, Adam. The Way. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN 2012. Page 100
 Mark 4:38
 Mark 4:39
 Mark 4:41
 Hamilton, Adam. The Way. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN 2012. Page 103