Title: Peace Be With You
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Amen)
Why are you afraid? Jesus had finished His Sermon on the Mountain (Matt. 5-7). He comes down from the mountain. He gets into a boat to travel across the sea. Jesus goes down into the nave of the boat and falls asleep.
Why are you afraid? A great storm wells up on the sea. The boat is swamped by the waves. Jesus is still asleep in the nave of the boat.
The disciples go down and wake Jesus, saying “Save us now! Save Our Ship! We are sinking! We are perishing! S.O.S. In spades!! Foreshadow the Titanic!!
Jesus awakes and replies, “Why are you so afraid?” Then Jesus answers His own question while waking in the midst of all His human grogginess, saying “O, that's right, you are of little faith aren't you”.
Did Jesus just tell His disciples they are unbelieving? Yes, He did.
Flashback to Jonah. Jonah went down to the city of Joppa. He went down into the nave of a boat going to Tarshish. A great storm welled up and threatened the lives of all on board until Jonah told the sailors that the God of Israel is angry at Jonah but the sailors can save themselves if they throw Jonah overboard. And Jonah went down into the sea. And Jonah went down into the belly of a great fish.
Why are you so disappointed I say this from the pulpit? O, that's right, you struggle to believe Jonah was swallowed by a whale, don't you. But, the account of Jonah is not a fairy-tale but a miracle in the hands of a gracious Creator. For “the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and nights”.
The sea is calmed. The sailors live. Jonah repents for not preaching in Nineveh as the Lord directed him. Jonah goes to Nineveh. Preaches repentance unto faith. And the Lord graciously spares Nineveh from destruction.
Please return with me to Jesus on His boat. For in that boat is someone much greater than Jonah. For as great as Jonah is, Jesus is the Lord. Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea. What did Jesus say? It is written in Mark 4:39, “Jesus said, Peace. He said, Be still.” The wind stopped blowing. The sea stopped swamping the boat.
Jesus does have all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:19). Jesus appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jesus calmed the wind and the waves.
Jesus goes on to say, “Therefore do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body what you will put on. For your life is more than food and your body is more than clothing! Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are of more value than birds!
Jesus also says, “Peace” to you. Sin destroys your peace. So to give you peace, Jesus needs to forgive you your sins. So it is Jesus who goes into the belly of death, a death that is the result of your sin. Jesus stays in the belly of death for three days before raising Himself to eternal life.
The first words Jesus spoke to His disciples in the upper room? Peace be with you! He declares peace to the disciples.
Jesus does the same for you, even in this service. First Jesus' Words are added to bread and wine. Then the body and blood are presented to you with the words, “The peace of the Lord be with you always”. Then with your mouth you eat and drink peace upon your body and soul, the forgiveness of all your sins, and our heavenly Father is at peace with you.
Jesus speaks this peace at the end of this service in His benediction to you. “The Lord bless you and keep … and give you peace”.
Jesus speaks this peace to you even now, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and protect you in Jesus Christ. Amen.