MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #2 – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.
This month we are looking at what Max Lucado calls the second worst day in Jesus’ life. Four things happened on that day and we’re looking at each one. Jesus, as you remember, was very busy. John the Baptist had died. He wanted to go away, grieve and spend some time in prayer. The disciples had been very busy. So busy helping people that they did not have time to eat. They wanted to go with Jesus and have that time in prayer. They went in the boat across the Sea of Galilea to what they hoped was a deserted place, but by the time they got there the beach was full of people. They had to work. Last week we talked about how Jesus fed 5,000 people there and what that means.
And now finally that long day is over. In Matthew 14, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. They were to head to the other side of the lake while he stayed with the people. Why? Because otherwise, the people would just run around the lake again. And after the disciples had left, he dismissed the people. He sent them home. He told them that it was time to go and then he was able to finally go up on the mountain by himself to pray. And when evening came he was there alone. Jesus finally was able to be alone in his place of prayer. It had been a long day and he had a lot to talk with God about. And in fact, Jesus talked with God long into the night.
Meanwhile, the disciples are on their home lake. And in fact, four of them – James and John, Peter and Andrew – four of them are professional fishermen. They have spent their adult life working on this lake. The Sea of Galilee. Shouldn’t really call it a Sea, to be honest. Have any of you ever been to Lake Carlisle? Lake Carlisle is longer by two miles than the Sea of Galilea. Lake Carlisle is 3.8 miles wide; the Sea of Galilee at its widest place is 7 miles wide. You can see to the other side. It’s not a huge place. Now they’re still able to get sardines out of that lake. They are still able to get fish out of that lake. By the way, did you ever wonder what kind of fish it was that the disciples fished for? Believe it or not, it’s a species of Tilapia. Red-bellied Tilapia.
They knew this lake. They had been on this lake. This lake was not a frightening place for them to be. I guess, at least for Peter, James, John, and Andrew, it was perhaps as comfortable as the mountain where Jesus was thinking and praying. Are there any of you that go fishing and find that you are praying? I guess you’re praying to catch fish but you’re out there and it’s quiet and sometimes you can feel the presence of God. But whether going fishing on a lake or up in the mountains like Jesus, they had finally had the opportunity to be with the Lord. Jesus is in his place of prayer.
Let’s switch over to Mark’s viewpoint, Mark 6:47. And when evening came the boat was out on the sea and He, Jesus, was alone on the land. Verse 48: And he saw– and he saw that they were making headway painfully for the wind was against them. Archaeologists have found boats 26 feet long and 7 feet wide that would easily transport 15 men. This boat probably had a triangular sail, or what is called a lateen sail. They could sail downwind and diagonal to the wind. Sailing downwind is the way you want to go!
But they had to go against the wind, and the way they moved forward against the wind is that they rowed. They rowed that boat across the lake. Again, this was not their first rodeo. (Row-deo?) This was not their first time to row, row, row the boat all the way across the Sea of Galilee in order to get home with their catch. But they were rowing against the wind. It wasn’t easy. John puts it this way, verse 18, the sea rose because a strong wind was blowing. And in fact, the Sea of Galilee is a place where storms happen often.
The thing to notice here, from the previous verse, is that Jesus is in a high place and he saw from his high place that they were struggling, that they were pushing against the wind. The season was near Passover, so the moon was full; there was light.
Here’s the first point to learn: God is watching. God is aware.
Nothing that happens to you or me takes God by surprise.
Life takes us by surprise all the time, and not only that, whatever happens to us we may not understand, but God understands. Jesus sees them from a high place. And friends, for you and I, God sees us from a high place. God knows what we are going through.
When was a time recently that you were surprised? What happened?
Why were you surprised? Had you not been paying attention?
Were there signs, signals or warnings that you missed?
Did people try to warn you, or were they hiding information from you?
How did the situation resolve?
Would God, then, be surprised?
What do you think could take God by surprise?
The photo “Sunrise over Sea of Galilee_0809” by James Emery is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/508201926/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.