David Kolander

Keep Calm and Carry On!

by David Kolander on June 28th, 2015
Mark 4:35-41

1. Look at the one sleeping in the stern
2. Look at the one speaking to the storm

You may or may not be familiar with the picture that was pasted into the worship folder below our sermon text and is listed as the sermon theme – “Keep Calm and Carry On” – but if you are familiar with that poster, you may also very well know that you can buy take-offs of that expression in almost every specialty store or website, take-offs that allow you to fill in the blank and express some calming influence in your life: Keep Calm and Make Coffee; Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake; Keep Calm and Go Fishing; Keep Calm and Love Purple; Keep Calm and Love Your Mother; Keep Calm and Call Batman; Keep Calm and Bike On, Teach On, Retire On, and on and on… Life, however, often leads us more likely to look for words that serve as a parody of that poster and mockingly, though perhaps more realistically say, “Keep Calm? Seriously? In This House?”

The disciples might have said that same thing about the boat they were in on the Sea of Galilee as it was filling with water during that horrible storm. Keep Calm? Seriously? In This Boat? Like, Right Now? Like, Jesus, are you awake back there?” For a few minutes let’s look at the one sleeping in the stern and see what we can learn.

I’m sure that some of you have the ability to sleep through a storm some times, but sleep in a storm? While in a boat? While in a boat that is filling with water because severe winds are blowing large waves into that boat in such a way that had to be awfully extraordinary, because, if you remember, many of the people on this boat with Jesus – his disciples – were very experienced fishermen on this same lake – the Sea of Galilee. It really is no wonder that they wondered, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
That’s an interesting way of addressing someone when you’re scared half to death, isn’t it? Teacher? I think it is safe to say that it is not the normal thing to call out to God and say, “Teacher, don’t you care that I am crying so much because I am so sad or so scared or so worried or so full of pain or pills or pity for myself because I can’t seem to ever get ahead, to ever win, to ever be able to keep calm and carry on.?” “Teacher don’t you care how confused I am about why you let people get attacked when they are worshiping or about why you allow our nation to be in such an anti-biblical, anti-Christian situation that the high court of our land has to even deal with the question of gay marriage in the first place, or about why you let terrorists seem to do almost whatever they want?” “Teacher, don’t you see that my family is fracturing, my heart is breaking, my nerves are shot.” “Teacher, what’s going on? It seems like you are being too calm for me to be able to carry on…”

It may not be the normal thing to address our Lord God as “Teacher” in those situations, but teach us our Lord does, as he calmly sleeps in the stern of the boat in the midst of a storm that seemed to be threatening the lives of his dear students, his disciples. For example, what does it teach us that Jesus was sleeping in the first place? It teaches us that he is a human being, just like us. The Bible tells us that the Lord God never slumbers or sleeps, so Jesus also became a man, able to slumber and sleep – and in that way also be able to do what God could never do – suffer and die. And why was Jesus sleeping? He was tired. In this case he was tired from all the teaching he had been doing. Jesus had spent all that day in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, speaking parables to the people gathered on the shore, parables such as the ones about the growing seed and the mustard seed that we talked about last week when we learned more about how God’s garden grows in the Kingdom of God. That simple point that Jesus needed to sleep means that he can relate to us when we are tired, when we are scared, when we are sad, when we question, when we wonder.

But we also need to remember that the one who can relate to our weaknesses and our sins can also condemn us for them, because though he endured the same weaknesses and temptations, he never sinned against his heavenly Father by rebelling against him or rejecting what he wanted him to do. Thankfully, however, not only does the Jesus have the ability to condemn us for our sins in his holiness, but he also in his love has the resolve to forgive us for our sins, which is exactly what he accomplished when he allowed his tired, exhausted, beaten, battered, bloodied body to be hoisted onto the cross and then placed into a tomb which praise God, could not contain him – a death and resurrection that assures us that Jesus truly does care – a death and resurrection that proves that anything he allows to happen must have a caring purpose – the purpose to get us to keep hanging on to the reality that his death and resurrection means that I am loved, I am safe, I am going to someday live in heaven. That’s a great reason to call my Lord Jesus “Teacher.” Those are lessons that I need – and that I want – to keep learning and learning more. One way to do that is to again and again look at the one sleeping in the stern.

If you know a lesson about World War 2 history, you may know that the poster “Keep Calm and Carry On” is not some recent thing, but it got its start over seventy-five years ago in 1939 as England feared that Hitler’s German armies would soon invade and seek to occupy their land. The British war department developed a series of motivational posters to encourage their people, one of which was written specifically for the eventuality of a German invasion. Nearly two and one-half million “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters were printed, words of resolve which were placed under the crown of their King, Edward VI. But it seems that none – or perhaps only a few – of those posters were ever actually posted, because, while there were many attacks, an actual invasion of England never materialized. Basically no one got to see or read the king’s encouragement to Keep Calm and Carry On.

By seeing what happened when the waves began to invade the boat, you and I get to hear and share that encouragement in a very important spiritual way that has to do with an encouragement not from a British king, but from our dear Lord God. To do that, don’t just look at the one sleeping in the stern, as important as that is. Also look at the one speaking to the storm.

We are told that “Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’” That word “rebuke” has behind it the picture of a parent reprimanding his or her children for doing something they weren’t supposed to do, telling them basically to “cool their jets” and calm down instead of being so angry or naughty. Jesus would have the right to do that to the naughty wind and waves, wouldn’t he? After all, think back to what the Lord said to Job in our First Lesson about why Job had no right to question God’s love and power, but rather to be confident in God’s love and power, because God was the one who had laid the earth’s foundations and made the seas and stated how far those waters could go – and no farther. Jesus rebuked his “children,” so to speak, and forcefully told the wind and waves to be quiet and to be still. The picture of the words “be still” is to put a muzzle on an animal so it can’t make a sound. “Put a muzzle on it, wind and waves.” It’s time to stop scaring my disciples. I still have work for them to do. And that’s why they didn’t have to be afraid. Jesus had told these fishermen that he was going to make them fishers of men, and that work of sharing the good news of who Jesus was and Jesus had done was still in its very initial phase. It wasn’t time for them to die yet.

You and I don’t have the same promise in quite the exact same way because we don’t know when the Lord will take us to himself, but we do have the exact same promise that Jesus will not let our lives end until his purpose for us is complete. And that’s why we can keep calm and carry on. We can carry on with the confidence that our Lord Jesus – the one with total control of the wind and the waves – has total control over everything that happens in our lives with the result that nothing will happen in our lives that will not help us carry on – whether that carrying on is more work to do on earth while we are still alive or more work to do in heaven as we constantly thank God and praise God after we die.

The reason we can carry on with that confidence is because of the core truth of why Jesus came to this earth and was even boating on the Sea of Galilee in the first place. In our Second Lesson this morning, the apostle Paul said it this way, “Christ’s love compels us (it compels us to carry on), because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Jesus died for us all. That means that as we go through life, we can know that Jesus has rebuked Satan and tells him, “Quiet. Be still. You have no right to bother my dear children who belong to me and who have been paid for by me and who are loved by me.” Jesus has also rebuked those sins that still try to cling to us and tells them, “Quiet. Be still. My love compels my people to want to carry on by serving me and loving others because they know how much I carried on to serve and love them.” And Jesus has rebuked those things that makes us wonder if it is worth it to cry out to God with our confusions or in our tears, and he tells those confusions and tears, “Quiet. Be still. My children know they can always speak to me about whatever is on their heart because they are speaking to the one who spoke to the storm” – and the one who spoke to the storm will never stop speaking to us in his Holy Word, the Bible.

It was long thought that all of those two and one-half million Keep Calm and Carry On posters were destroyed after World War II, until about fifteen years ago a few began to resurface – maybe only twenty or so in all – which are understandably being kept under safekeeping. You and I never have to fear God’s promises being lost or God forgetting his forgiveness for a while. We have a Savior who every day can totally relate us as one sleeping in the stern, and we have a Savior who not only keeps us safe, but who truly has saved us – the one who spoke to a storm the way he spoke to that storm so that we can know he can be trusted when he speaks to us, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

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