THE 4th SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, FEBRUARY 3rd, 2019

LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI

Old Testament: Jonah 1:1-17

Epistle: Romans 8:18-23

Holy Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27

(readings, collect, and hymn for the day are also printed below sermon text)

Sermon:

Last week we heard of the great faith of a leper and a centurion. That a great faith believes nothing great about itself. But knows and believes great things about Christ. Namely, that he took our sins all away from us. In fact, paid for the sins of the whole world on the cross – stilling the raging storm of God’s wrath. That he would rise up from the sleep of death in the resurrection and speak a word of peace that calms every troubled heart and brings peace to every soul. He took the place of guilty and condemned mankind to bring about a perfect reconciliation with God. For us, he fulfilled God’s Law, and credits his righteousness and perfect life to us, as a gift, to be received by faith.  

The Word of Christ that is proclaimed and preached has authority. That’s what the leper and centurion understood. The Word of Christ does what is says. It convicts, it condemns, it pulls us out of hell and draws us to God in heaven. The Word of Christ works repentance and faith, and brings with it the treasures of salvation found in the means of grace. Jesus says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” And to believe and be baptized, that too is the work of God too. He does it all. Faith is the trust and cheerful confidence in the wonderful message of the Gospel – that God, for Christ’s sake, is gracious to all who believe in the atoning blood of His Son shed on Calvary for the sins of the world.

All who reject God’s gracious offer of forgiveness for Christ’s sake will die in unbelief. But if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So the Christian, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, clings to this Gospel and his heart confesses: “I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.”

This is the faith that justifies. A great faith that Jesus commends in the account of the healing of the leper and centurion from last week.

But today we see that this faith is not lived out by walking through a sweet-smelling rose garden. Rather faith is lived out in tension and agonizing struggle, in which we learn, ever again, that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

So it’s no coincidence that today’s Gospel follows on the very same day as the healing of the leper and centurion, that might we learn more about faith and trust in God.

Jesus is with his disciples in a boat. And a great storm arose, the Greek is seismos, really a word for earthquake. So, think hurricane or tsunami. It’s bad, really bad! The boat is being battered and beaten. The sea is swelling, rising up and down, and the wind is violently spinning that little ship like a toy boat. Swamped by the waves, and covered by the sea. It’s filling with water and sinking in the depths. And what’s worse, Jesus appears to be sleeping through it all.

It many ways it’s a picture of the church and the life of all Christians, who bear the holy name of Jesus. Because if you want to be a Christian, if you want to enjoy passage on the ark of the holy Christian church, and if you want to have Christ as your captain, well, then rough weather is sure to come. 

The disciples cry out “Save us, Lord; for we are perishing.” Now they’re right to call upon the Lord. Oh, that’s good! But their fear, their panic, that’s something the Lord rebukes, because the real crisis was not the weather. The real crisis was their hearts. “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” He rebuked those disciples for their lack of faith and spoke to the wind and sea, and all creation obeyed His voice. All became still and quiet. The sea? Like glass.

Now you may think to yourself, “Oh, but those faithless disciples, if I, if I was in the boat with Jesus, I’d be bold and fearless. I’d fear nothing if I was with the Lord.” But how foolish! Because you came into his boat after he threw you the lifeline in Holy Baptism. He told you to fix your eyes on him. But you haven’t done that. You’ve refused to believe that Jesus is in control and you’re suspicious of His wisdom. You’ve refused to believe that He is working all things out for your good, and so you’ve doubted His care.

We tell ourselves, “Oh, it’s only human to doubt and worry.” But the truth is, Jesus considers it wicked and in need of rebuke. Truth is, worry is eating you up. Anxiety is taking years off your life, and it’s driven you to idols. You have eyes like those disciples. Off Jesus and on everything else.

So repent. And look to the captain of your salvation, Jesus Christ. “What sort of man is this that even the wind and sea obey him?” the disciples ask each other. And you know the answer, it’s the Lord God, the God of heaven and earth. So by all means call upon him in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; and I will deliver you,” the Psalmist prays.  

But remember God is God. It is he who governs the world and not we. It is God who marshals forth the stars which only he can count. And here on earth there is not a sparrow that falls to the ground except it be his will.

Concerning the great storms that come our way: His knowledge is too wonderful for us. His ways are higher than our ways, as the heavens are high above the earth. We must learn to believe that God knows and wills what is best for us, even when God seems to act contrary to our desires.

Set before your eyes the example of the three men to be cast in the fiery furnace, because that is faith: I am in God’s hands and he has the power to save me, but even if faced with death I will not bow down to false gods. Even if I am burned alive, I believe that Christ will raise me from the dead and give me eternal life.

In Jonah we see ourselves. For Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord even as we sinners turn our backs on God and go our own way. This brings the storm of God’s judgment.

But in Jonah we also see Christ. For even as he was in the great fish for three days and three nights, so also Christ Jesus was buried in the depths of death for us and raised on the third day. The Lord of creation, who rules over the wind and the waves, saved us from the fury of divine wrath by taking the judgment in His own body: The judgment for our unbelief, our faithless fears, and He triumphed over it all.

For as Jonah’s presence in the sea made it calm, so Christ’s presence in the sea of Baptism causes a great calm, and a mighty deliverance from all affliction. Behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Jesus Christ, the Lord of Sabaoth, our captain of salvation who promises safe harbor in the kingdom of heaven.

Saint Augustine put it this way: The sea of this world lies between where we are and where we are going. And we have already seen where we are going. And what has God done? He has provided the wood by which we may cross the sea. For no one can cross the sea of the world unless carried by the cross of Christ.”

Though our faith be weak in the face of peril, yet we are kept in safety on the ship of the Church, for the Son of God is with us, and though the whole creation groans with us under the curse, yet at Jesus’ Word, there is a great calm. For we know that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed to us. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Introit:

Antiphon

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress. (Psalm 107:6)

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107:29)

Psalm

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man! (Psalm 107:21)

they saw the deeds of the LORD,

his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea. (Psalm 107:24-25)

Antiphon

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress. (Psalm 107:6)

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107:29)

Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!

Old Testament: Jonah 1:1-17

Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil1 has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

A Great Fish Swallows Jonah

17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Gradual:

Nations will fear the name of the Lord,

and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.

For the Lord builds up Zion;

he appears in his glory (Pslam 102:15-16)

Epistle: Romans 8:18-23

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Holy Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Hymn of the Day: “Seek Where Ye May to Find a Way” TLH #383

Author: Georg Weissel, 1623

Translator: Arthur Voss, 1938

Tune: “Such’, wer da will”

Composer: Johann Stobaeus, 1613

© The Lutheran Hymnal

  1. 1. Seek where ye may To find a way

That leads to your salvation;

My heart is stilled, On Christ I build,

He is the one Foundation.

His Word is sure, His works endure;

He doth o'erthrow My every foe;

Through Him I more than conquer.

  1. 2. Seek whom ye may To be your stay;

None can redeem his brother.

All helpers failed, This Man prevailed,

The God-man, and none other.

Our Servant-Lord Did help afford;

We're justified, For He hath died,

The Guiltless for the guilty.

  1. 3. Seek Him alone, Who did atone,

Who did your souls deliver;

Yea, seek Him first, All ye who thirst

For grace that faileth never.

In every need Seek Him indeed;

To every heart He will impart

His blessings without measure.

  1. 4. My heart's Delight, My Crown most bright,

Thou, Jesus, art forever.

Nor wealth nor pride Nor aught beside

Our bond of love shall sever.

Thou art my Lord; Thy precious Word

Shall be my guide, Whate'er betide.

Oh, teach me, Lord, to trust Thee!

  1. 5. Hide not from me, I ask of Thee,

Thy gracious face and favor.

Though floods of woe Should o'er me flow,

My faith shall never waver.

From pain and grief Grant sweet relief;

For tears I weep, Lord, let me reap

Thy heavenly joy and glory.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a