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Jesus and Climate Change Luke 8:22 - 25

September 29, 2019 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel According to Luke

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Luke 8:22–8:25

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22 Now it came about on one of those days, that He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

This past week has seen a global revolutionary force called the climate strike.  You may have heard something of it on the news.  Make the world Greta again, an obvious play on Mr. Trumps slogan make america great again.

It's a cute play on words and the climate strike poster child is a cute teeny bopper backed by gazillions of dollars of political money.  So much political money.  

What will it take to fix what's broke.  Simple, turn everything off.  Just stop it.  No more fossil fuels.  No more energy.  No more beef.  Our only hope is to follow the new rules that break everything in the whole world.  No more governments.  No more capitalism.  No more inequality.  

Oh, one other thing.  Bow down to central control.  This group of children who know more about everything and are going to tell us what we can have for sustenance, and how much.  The only way to save the planet is to fall under the rule of the all knowing ones who can fix everything.

Out where I work (for a few more months) one of the guys got an offer to switch to a group in Albuquerque and before he left with his particularly dark sense of humor, he wrote in a corner of the white board in a common room these cryptic words.  Nobody's coming.  It's up to us.

Nobody's coming.  It's up to us.  Sort of a cyptic doom message.  Dark humor.  Nobody's coming.  It's up to us.

In my lifetime, I was born in 1952, the world at large has gone from modernism, to post modernism, to post post modernism.  

Actually 1952 was at the far end of modernism which in western higher learning said, no one believes in the miracles in the ancient book, the holy scriptures, any more, but we're not ready to abandon all of it yet.  There are kernels of truth to find mixed in with the fairy tales and fables.  Modern people know Jesus didn't walk on water.  It's a fairy tale added by well meaning but perhaps too enthusiastic believers.  Fables in a time of fables.

We have to find the real Jesus mixed in with the fables Jesus.  And of course when the editing pen comes out, inspiration of scripture collapses.  We decide which parts are inspired, and which parts are fairy tales.  It's up to us.

Then when that house collapses in on itself, which it did, post modernism came which said in a 1966 cover on Time magazine, God is dead, we can do what we want.  This will be great.

And then post post modernism sort of says, we did everything we want and we're still empty.  Nothing means anything.  No matter what we do, it's just empty.  We're stuck on a rock flying through space and our lives don't matter.  In fact the rock we're on is about to do us in and soon there will no longer even be lives that don't matter.

My friends cryptic humor was in fact stating what the deepest thoughts in empty post post modern hearts are struggling with.  Nobody's coming. It's up to us.  There's no meaning.  No God.  No nothing.  Just emptiness on a rock that according to somebody's math and projections based on nothing, soon will no longer sustain us.

No wonder the teen-agers are angry.  Post post modernism not only gave them a world of no meaning, just emptiness, but they've also figured out that the generations before them spent all of the capital on themselves.

Bill De Blasio gave the school kids of New York the day off to go on strike, and many of them went to a park and smoked marijuana.  What do you do with hopelessness?  Some wave signs with no answers and get all passionate and righteously indignant and worked into a frenzy, and some just dull the pain by smoking dope.

And that was global.  Not just New York.

Are there answers in this book that we abandoned at the dawn of the industrial age.  Is there hope for the hopeless, meaning for the emptiness, answers about what ultimately happens to our lovely world.

There are a few of us, dinosaurs, nearly extinct, who would say yes.  There is hope.  There is meaning.  There are answers in the old book that is scoffed and left in the trashbins of ancient history.

Let me introduce you to someone who can control the climate with His voice.  His words.  In fact it was His voice and His words that set the worlds spinning in the beginning and His voice that populated it with wondrous plants and animals, water and seasons, lands and seas.  Daytime and night time.

The words we'll read and consider this morning are not a fairy tale.  The men who purveyed the words to us were chosen on purpose from the most sane, stable, salt of the earth type of ordinary rational humans possible to find.

Ordinary men.  Fishermen who simply carved out a living for themselves by straining hard at work from morning to night.  They weren't poets and learned men.  Although you can argue that John was actually a poet, and Paul was actually at the top of the worlds learning curve before he abandoned the worlds learning in order to have Jesus instead.

These men, unlike the poster child creators of the current frenzy, have nothing to gain by making up far fetched fairy tales.  No motives to embellish their story.  They were like the construction worker class of their time and place.  No nonsense men who have a foundational baseline in the revealed truths of the old Testament.

Besides having a natural affinity to a no-nonsense existence of work, they have the ethics of God given commandments that channel and guide them to actually flourish.  You shall not steal.  You shall not lie.  You shall not kill.  Honor your mother and your father. You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not covet what your neighbor has that you don't.

Work ethic and God ordained commands that led to flourishing.  Those are who Jesus chose to relay the stories of the events that transpired as God in human flesh dwelt with us.   

At no other place and at no other time in history did events conspire to produce a generation of story tellers that would be as enabled as these simple men that Jesus chose to relay to us, the honest, simple truths of what happened.  There were never more reliable men on earth to tell us what happened than these men.

It took Satan 20 centuries to make their relaying of simple truths written down of no effect.  20 centuries he's been at it trying to make these truths of no account and no effect.

But the book is irrepressible.  Wherever it pops back up from it's forgotten dust bins, life happens.  Hope happens.  Meaning happens.  Flourishing happens.  It has that effect on all who will hear it.

Therefore, I want you to listen to the account relayed to us by faithful men, not as something like a fairy tale, but as something that actually happened and was simply re-told by men who had nothing to gain by embellishing anything.  

In fact, we have three different independent accounts of the memory of this event.  3 witnesses who wrote down what happened at different times and in different places not comparing texts but simply relaying the story in their own words.  

There are enough minor differences to confirm that they didn't conspire to conjure something up.  Different accounts by different men with different points of view that would all hold up in a court room.  God graciously gives us three even though the law says two is enough.

These events really happened just as told.  Exactly as relayed to us.  The story is painfully short.  I'm going to re-read it to you again after our introduction in the hopes that your minds are in a place to listen to this as relayed by reliable no nonsense eye witness observors.  The men who were there and lived through this event that under any other circumstances would have not lived to re-tell what happened.

22 Now it came about on one of those days, that He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

Not a word of that tale is embellished or untrue.  So what does that mean to frenzied 16 year olds who are convinced the world will be un-inhabitable in 11 years.  Listen now, because I think I'm going to say something important.

It means; they could in fact be right.  But the man who spoke 3 words and altered the climate is still in sovereign control of the climate, and He offers us the same peace inside our hearts that He brought to that sea on that day.

That man transcends this world and offers us a peace that is outside of the troubles that are coming on this world.  What a message!  What a story of hope in hopelessness and peace in storms we have to offer to a generation that has lost all hope.

Jn. 14:27 He says;  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The man who calmed the seas also calms hearts.  The world can be imploding and exploding in chaos and He offers a peace that is not of this world.  He gives peace and order inside hearts that transcends whatever is happening in this world.

Let's look at our verses.  Interpretively, there are no problems, no issues.  This isn't an interpretive challenge.  The story is Dick and Jane and Spot the dog simple.  But the profound truth here transcends this world.

22 Now it came about on one of those days,

Luke makes no claim to trying to be chronologically perfect as he presents his gospel.  Rather he tends to order things fairly close chronologically that build to the ultimate truth he wants to give us.

In the rest of this chapter as it unfolds, we are going to see 4 instances in which people are stopped in their tracks and marvel at the power of Jesus over weather, disease, the unseen spiritual world of demons and devils, and finally death.

When Luke gets finished, we can only come to one possible conclusion.  Jesus is God the Son.  There is no one else like Him.  Never before, never again, until He returns in fiery judgement and ultimate peace.

Luke launches out on one of the most astounding incidences the world has ever witnessed with the most ordinary of non plussed speach ever.  22 Now it came about on one of those days,

Just a regular day.  With Jesus.  But every day with Jesus is irregular.  This is just one such day.

22 Now it came about on one of those days, that He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”

He's been preaching and healing and casting out demons, and the crowd has been crushing in on Him.  His mother and brothers have come to do an intervention because they think He's gone around the bend.

And Jesus just says, let's go over to the other side of the lake.  He has a divine appointment with a demon possessed maniac on the other side of the lake.

The sea of Galilee, or chineroth, or Tiberias, variously named is unique.  Picture lake Tahoe down in a bowl 627 feet below sea level.  It's about 13 miles across to the other side.

The boat is probably Peter or John's fishing boat which they have left behind after the great catch of fish in chapter 5 when they left their normal livelihoods behind to follow Him.

And they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep;

Jesus is 100% God and 100% human.  He experiences all of the same needs and necessities of any other human.  And He's exhausted, and perhaps part of the reason for a leisurely sail on a perfect day is for some much needed rest.

The other writers tell us He goes up into the front of the hold and lays His head on one of the cushions and takes a much needed nap.  He's out.

and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.

These storms are common to this body of water in this weird bowl below sea level.  Pressure differentials come out of seemingly nowhere and the word translated descended is scientifically correct.  The pressures change rapidly and the air comes down the cliffs on the east side and literally digs a hole into the water.

Waves develop, and in fact in 1992 an event was observed and measured that produced waves up to 10 feet tall that damaged structures on the shores.

In 1986 a first century boat was excavated from the mud of the sea of Galilee.  It gives us a good picture of what the craft in this very story was like.  It's 27 feet long and about 7 feet wide.  Not very big.  Picture that boat, about as long as a 1 ton pickup truck being hammered with 10 foot waves.

The water is coming in much faster than anyone, all of them, can bail it out.  Swamped is a good word.  When the water in the boat displaces all of the air, something happens.  The boat sinks to the bottom with it's occupants.  Not good.  Danger, also a good word.  The danger is death.

Loss of life in that situation is almost sure.
24 And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

One interesting little point about the 3 accounts we have of this incident.  For me, if no one else, it adds to the believability of scripture.  Matthew tells us;  The disciples went and woke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"  And Mark says; So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?”

One account says Master, another says Lord, and another says Teacher.  So that proves the Bible isn't reliable because three different authors come up with 3 varying accounts.  So say the enemies of the book.

OR, perhaps it was pandemonium in the middle of Galilee with 10 foot waves in a 27 foot boat and 3 different guys were all shouting something different at the same time.  For me, these kinds of differences prove the voracity of scripture.  3 authors that had no concern to compare accounts to get the little things all perfectly in line.  And in fact all three variations probably were said by 3 different people.

Three authors who are working with 3 different memories of the same event, and highly probable 10 people are all shouting differnt things at the same time.  It was pandemonium for everyone except Jesus.  He was sleeping right through it.

And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.

Here Luke uses a marvelous word.  epitimaó is the greek word translated rebuked.  It's a courtroom word.  A legal word and it describes a censure, a warning, a rebuke that is designed to be equal to the concern being addressed.

It's a strong word.  A rebuke equal to the problem.  But for the rest of us mortals, it's only used mano a mano.  The word describes the reaction of an authority addressing a problem or concern.

My grandfather rebuked me strongly one day when I drove my antique Ford rather madly on the freeway to pass someone in time to get off at an offramp I wanted.  I could have slowed down, but I chose to do it by speeding up.  And I damaged the car.  I loosened a rod up.  And my grandfather who was following in another vehicle rebuked me for being foolish and causing damage, not to mention being unsafe.

The word is for people rebuking people.  And thus it's startling to find it used here.  Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves.  What good does that do?  Shout a rebuke at 10 foot waves and 100 mph wind.  Good for you.  What good is that.  Pick up a bucket Jesus and start bailing.

He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.

Instantly.  From 10 foot waves and hurricane force winds to glass and stillness.  Instantly.  It didn't taper off.  The wind stopped.  The waves ceased.  Calm.  Immediately, in obedience to the voice who created the wind and the sea.  The same voice that spoke them into being rebuked them and the calm was instant.

I've been listening to one of the most beautiful pieces of music this week, over and over.  YouTube.  It's only 2 minutes long and I've pressed replay over and over.  So gorgeous.

But;  it's put out by a very liberal church.  Awesome music program, but sadly, I think most of them aren't believers.  Never-the-less, the music is astonishingly beautiful.  The song is called Calm to the waves.

Just a single verse, sung as a prayer.
Calm to the waves. Calm to the wind.
Jesus whispers, ""Peace, be still.""
Balm to our hearts. Fears at an end.
In stillness, hear his voice.

It's a fine idea.  But it isn't biblical.  Jesus didn't whisper.  He rebuked the wind and the waves.  Strong word.  A rebuke equal to the task.  Peace!  BE STILL!  and it was.  Frighteningly so, as we shall see.

25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

I confess that, I don't have any problem with anything we've talked about so far.  The miracle, the different accounts by different authors, however slight, none of it.  But I have to ask, is this a realistic expectation of these painfully ordinary men by Jesus.

Because, personally, faith would be one thing but I'd be bailing water like mad.  “Where is your faith?”  I could pray and bail at the same time.  Bail furiously, pray for a miracle.  

I'm curious.  Should they have met among themselves and decided that God's work ceases with us so let's just be quiet and see what God will do with this storm that threatens to take us all to the bottom of the sea.  Not our problem, it's His.  Maybe they didn't need to wake Jesus up at all?

Like a story I vaguely remember when MacArthur is riding in an airplane when something was going on that was causing some panic and he says he wasn't worried because it was sort of clear to him that God wasn't finished with what He was going to do with him.  And in the other case, even better, get to go home early.

I'm sure the where is your faith is for us, more than for the disciples on the boat.  The fact is, when Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit came, these same men were in fact fearless.  They turned the entire world upside down.  Faith did come that should shame us.  But on this day?  

Maybe the expectation was that God is in our boat so this particular boat sinking is out of the question.  Perhaps they should have been able to have faith based on who was in the boat with them.  God's not going to sink this boat with His Son in it.  That's possible I suppose.  Where is your faith?  Really?  

Psalm 65:5-7 should have been a familiar text to these men.
5 By awesome deeds Thou dost answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
            Thou who art the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;

     6 Who dost establish the mountains by His strength,
            Being girded with might;

     7 Who dost still the roaring of the seas,
            The roaring of their waves,
            And the tumult of the peoples.

And Psalm 107 23-30 sounds to me like a fourth account of the event we are looking at.  It's like a blow by blow prophecy of this time and place. Keep in mind that this prophecy was written over 700 years before Jesus and the disciples are in this boat in this storm.  Astonishing.

     23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
            Who do business on great waters;

     24 They have seen the works of the LORD,
            And His wonders in the deep.

     25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
            Which lifted up the waves of the sea.

     26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
            Their soul melted away in their misery.

     27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
            And were at their wits’ end.

     28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
            And He brought them out of their distresses.

     29 He caused the storm to be still,
            So that the waves of the sea were hushed.

     30 Then they were glad because they were quiet;
            So He guided them to their desired haven.

Where is your faith.  Have you not read Psalm 107 where the men cry out to God and He calms the waves.  

And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

That question would have had to be answered in their minds in order for the faith that He questions them about to have been present.  Who then is this?  

Little by little as they accompany Jesus, they learn, time after time, that this Jesus does things that no other human before or after Him can do.  He is God, the Son.

Only one person, ever, in all of creation, speaks to the wind and the waves with authority, and they obey Him, immediately.

In one sense, the fear of perishing in the storm might be the lesser fear than realizing God is in your boat.

A minute ago we were about to die.  Now there is calm, except we are vile sinners sitting in a boat with the judge of the universes.  Something about that may be more unsettling than the waves and the wind.  If God were to unleash on us what we deserve, the wind and the waves would be childs play.  

The story is real.  It is not a fable.  It happened just as reliable witnesses had it written down for posterity.  It has come down to us, 2000 years later, intact, just exactly as written under the inspiration of God.

There is so much to learn from this story.  I'm only singling out one of so many possibilities.  

I submit to you that Jesus is still in control of the climate.  Sovereign control.  It may be changing.  I don't know.  I question the motives of the bizarre far left power grab for control and dismantling capitalism.  I question the bogus science.  But I don't question that the climate is in total control of the one who spoke it into existence.  He changes it for His pleasure, His purposes, His design for the ages.  It belongs to Him.

The wind and the sea obey His voice.  The climate obeys His voice.  This world with it's climate belongs to Him and He is in sovereign control of every molecule.  Every atom answers to Him.

Go have a hamburger.  Drive an antique Ford that smokes and drips oil galore.  You're not going to be the one who alters this world.  That power belongs to Jesus.  It still does.

If the story is fact, relayed by reliable witnesses, and it is, then every person who reads the story  needs to answer the same question that troubled the disciples when the sea became glassy smooth and the wind ceased at the command of His voice.

Who then is this?  If He is who this book says He is, then the question becomes a simple one.  If the wind and the sea immediately obey Him, why is it that people do not obey His voice?  If He is Lord of the wind and the sea, are you so foolish as to think He is not the Lord of you?

And the answer comes;  Every knee will bow.  Oh how wonderful to bow down to Him in worship now, and not later in judgement for our rebellion.  If the wind and the sea must obey, it's a simple matter of time before every human must also obey.  Do it today.  In this lifetime.  Not later in judgement.