"Jesus, Don't You Care?"#85-43
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on June 24, 2018
By Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
(Q&A Topic:Jesus, Don't You Care?)
Copyright 2018 Lutheran Hour Ministries
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Text: Mark 4:38-41
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Lord, Your victory changes my world. Through Your compassionate sacrifice, I am delivered from the clutches of sin, the devil, and death. Grant that I, and all the world may worship You, the Lord who has cared so much. Let this be done through Jesus' Name. Amen.
It was Carl Sagan who said, "There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism, but every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question." Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the genius who was key to the development of the electric motor, said the same thing in this more quotable version: "There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions."
Now my academic credentials are such that I do not feel comfortable disagreeing with them on most things, but I wonder if they ever ran into anyone like my children. Each of our kids, when they were four or five, tip-toed into our bedroom, stood by the side-of-the-bed, gently pried open our eyelid and asked, "Are you awake?" And, with increasing volume, they kept asking the question, until they got the affirmative answer they desired. It seems to me that their question might qualify as not so smart.
"There are no stupid questions." That is the philosophy of modern-day education. I'm sure most people believe that, but I don't. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Really? Listen, most of you, at one time or another, have gone shopping. No, it doesn't make much difference what you were shopping for, the example is pretty much the same. Suppose you were shopping for chicken. You go up to the butcher and ask, "Is your chicken fresh?" Tell me, do you really think he is going to confess: "No, lady, the date to sell this chicken was two weeks ago. I'm just putting it into the display case because it was really smelling up the big freezer"? Of course, he is going to say, "Yes, ma'am. Couldn't be fresher."
Or suppose you're shopping for a car. You approach the salesman, the salesman who feeds his family from the money he makes on commission from his selling said cars, and you ask him a question. For example, you may ask, "Is this car safe?" or you might wonder, "Is this model reliable?" or you might get specific and query, "Will it do well in the snow?" Honestly, what kind of answer do you think you're going to get? I guarantee that salesman will reassure you that the car you are considering is absolutely safe, it is 100 percent reliable, and when it comes to snow, it is the car of choice among Eskimos.
There is no such thing as a silly question. Are you sure of that? Look, a few years ago, I was dressed in my suit and a clergy collar. On my way home from doing a funeral, I had to run into a store. There I was approached by one of my church members who, seeing me in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes asked, "Hey, pastor? Why dressed so fancy in the middle of the week?" I replied, "I just finished doing a funeral for good, old Bob?" With a straight face my member asked, "A funeral for good, old Bob? What? Is he dead?" It took everything I had not to reply, "No, he's not dead. Bob just wanted to have his funeral to see who came. If a person didn't show up for his funeral today, Bob isn't going to send them a Christmas card in December."
There is no such thing as a foolish question. Come on, give me a break. When the Dallas temperature is 105 degrees and a person comes up and asks, "Well, Ken, is it hot enough for you?" That was a foolish question. When your snow blower has just removed 23 inches of newly fallen snow from your driveway, and the snowplow has just gone down your street, and filled your driveway all over again, and you have nowhere to put that snow, and a snowmobiler stops to ask, "I just love winter. Don't you?" That, my friends, was a foolish question. When you're entering a barber shop and someone asks, "Getting a haircut?"-that is a foolish question.
Yes, there is such a thing as a foolish question. If you still doubt me, then I encourage you to talk to the disciples. Talk to them, because one of their questions rates right near the top of most-foolish-question-ever-spoken list. Let me set the scene. The event happened during Jesus period of great popularity. The Savior was in Galilee, and He couldn't go anywhere without being mobbed by His eager followers. On this particular day, the crowd was so large He had been forced to speak to them from a boat anchored just a few feet off shore. Now you may not know it, but without modern microphones, amplifiers, and speakers, Jesus had to expend a great deal of energy trying to reach thousands who were gathered there before Him.
Now Jesus did the job. He did it with flying colors, but afterwards, He was exhausted. Turning to His closest disciples, He shared that it was time for Him to get some rest and relaxation, some R & R. He boarded a boat, and his friends-some of whom had spent their lives fishing on the Sea of Galilee-began a voyage which would take them to a destination on the other side of the lake. Now understand, this was not going to be a multi-day cruise. From start to finish, the excursion would have covered just a few miles and, at most, it should have been completed in a few hours.
They had not gone all that far when a storm, the Bible labels it a 'furious squall" came bearing down on them. Now, I have been on that lake any number of times, and I have experienced such a storm. Believe me when I tell you the intensity of the wind and the height of the waves can be frightening. That would be especially true if you were, like Jesus and His disciples, in a boat which rode low in the water. With waves breaking over the ship, the disciples began bailing. They worked hard at keeping that vessel afloat, but it seemed as if, no matter how hard they worked, theirs was a losing proposition. The situation became so dire, even the experienced seamen among them feared that night was going to be their last.
Somewhere along the line, somebody noticed that although Jesus was in the boat with them, He wasn't by their side. He wasn't by their side worrying; He wasn't by their side bailing; He wasn't by their side being scared. In truth, Jesus wasn't any of those things. How could He have been? The exhausted Savior was asleep in the stern of the boat. In life, I've found, there are few things more frustrating than being awake when somebody else is sleeping like a baby. Well, that's the way the disciples felt. If they were going to bail, if they were going to be afraid, Jesus ought to be bailing and Jesus ought to be afraid right there with them.
Feeling the unfairness of the situation, they made their way to the stern of the ship, and like my children at my bedside, they wanted to know if Jesus was still asleep. Well, Jesus hadn't awakened when the storm began, and He had managed to stay asleep when the boat started taking on water. About the only thing Jesus couldn't sleep through was this doubting attention which was directed at Him by His frightened shipmates.
This message began by saying that there are, indeed, some questions which are silly, foolish, ridiculous, and yes, I'll say it: some questions which are stupid. Now we are going to hear one of the worst questions this sin-ridden world has ever heard. The disciples approach Jesus and awakened Him by asking, "Jesus, don't You care?" Jesus, don't You care about our welfare? Jesus, don't You care if we're going to go down to a watery grave? Jesus, don't You care if we are going to die?"
Years later, Peter, one of the fishermen in that boat would write a letter. In that letter he would be inspired to say, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." But a lot of learning and a great deal of spiritual growing would take place before the day of that writing would come. That night, right then, a spiritually immature Peter was scared to death, and he wanted an answer to the question: "Jesus, don't You care?"
Now, I would like you to notice what the disciples didn't say that day. What they didn't say was just as important as their question. Amazingly, these men didn't wake the Savior with the words, "Lord, would You please help us?" Nor did they approach Him with a prayerful plea to use His omnipotence to bail them out of what looked like a disastrous situation. No, they just assumed the worst. They just figured that Jesus wasn't, or couldn't do anything to, quite literally, bail them out.
Now I said their question was a foolish one. It was, and here is why: in the relatively short period of time they had been with our Lord, they had seen the level of His caring; they had seen the power which was at His disposal. Let me give you a short synopsis of the things the disciples had been privy to: He had cared enough to help a family avoid embarrassment when He had turned water into wine. In Capernaum, He had been powerful enough to deliver a man who was possessed by a devil. When Peter's own mother-in-law had been sick, Jesus cared enough to heal her. The disciples had seen Jesus' power when a man, diseased and disfigured by leprosy, was healed and made whole. That was some serious caring and power. It would not be the last time they would see the Lord's level of love. Power and compassion would be shown as Jesus healed a paralytic, and the servant of a trusted Centurion. If these events had not been enough to show the Savior's power and compassion, in the city of Nain the disciples had seen a young man raised from the dead.
"Jesus, don't You care?" Two-thousand years ago, on the Sea of Galilee, it was the most foolish of questions. It still is. You see, 2,000 years ago was not the last time the question has been asked of our Lord. That's because any time we are caught up in a natural disaster or an accident or an illness, and anytime we find ourselves at the center of some sorry situation and circumstance, the temptation is there to say, "Jesus, don't You care?" When people wonder where has God gone, when they ask, "When did He stop loving me?" and when they challenge, "If God is a God of love, why doesn't He stop this?" we are rephrasing the disciples' question, "Jesus, don't You care?'
The truth is Jesus continued to care throughout His earthly ministry. Because Jesus cared, His entire life became an investment made to save sinners from damnation. Because the Savior cared, in Gethsemane's Garden He shouldered the weight of humanity's many misdeeds. Because Jesus cared, He willingly suffered the betrayal of a friend, the denial of another, and desertion by the others. Because Jesus cared, He allowed Himself to be arrested and unfairly tried by His church leaders. He endured condemnation from a government representative who knew He was innocent. Jesus not care? Listen to Him as He, looking through intense pain, provided for His mother; offered forgiveness to those responsible for His crucifixion, and invited a dying soul into heaven. Most certainly Jesus cared. It was His caring which, after He had fulfilled the laws we have broken; after He had resisted all of Satan's temptations, allowed Him to confidently proclaim, "It is finished!"
And the work of our redemption had been finished, too. If that work had not been completed, the carpenter's Son from Nazareth would have remained in His borrowed tomb. But because it was done, and had been done perfectly, three days after He had been buried, showing power which could only be held by the conquering Son of God, a living Lord Jesus, a glorified Lord Jesus, burst from His tomb to proclaim to all the world and all who would listen that forgiveness is available to all who believe on Him. And an eternity-without-tears is guaranteed to all who cling to faith in Him as their Redeemer.
Yes, Jesus cares. The disciples had hardly finished their questioning of Christ's commitment before He was on His feet, barking orders for the storm to stop. Do I have to tell you that this storm was finished in an instant? Of course I don't. If the Lord can call all of creation into being with a word, He most certainly can stop a small storm, on a small lake, located in the small Roman province of Galilee. He can do that, and He can do much more.
But there are other things I should tell you before our time together ends. For example, I need to tell you, the disciples' witnesses many times over of Christ's caring still didn't get it. Other storms would come their way, and their faith during those storms was not an improvement on what they did on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus asked them to pray with Him, they fell asleep. When He was arrested, they ran away. When Jesus was crucified, they went into hiding, and when He rose from the dead, at first, they chose to deny it. Still, the time eventually came when they, touched by the Holy Spirit's power, were given understanding and faith. In that one spectacular moment, they were transformed, and these meek little lambs became the Lord's lions proclaiming the conquering Christ to a sin-sickened world, which so desperately needed to hear that message.
And you, my friends, also need to hear that message. During your storms, during those times when you are afraid, when you question whether you can make it through the next day, the next hour, you need to hear Jesus. When you were brought to Him in faith, He will-just as He did for the disciples these many years ago-rise up and still the storm. Sometimes He will make that storm disappear; other times He will give you the power to get through that storm. Either way, with Jesus you will survive. You will survive until the day comes when He safely takes you to your home port in heaven. On that day, if you look back, you will see and thank Him for the many storms in your life He has stilled.
Which takes me to this one last thing. If you right now are in the midst of a storm, if you right now feel yourself foundering, and if you, right now, don't know Jesus, I'd like to extend this invitation which says, please, call us at The Lutheran Hour. Amen.
Reflections for June 24, 2018
Title: JESUS, DON'T YOU CARE?
Mark Eischer: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour. That was Pastor Ken Klaus, and Dr. Dale Meyer joins us now with some reflections on what we've just heard. Hello Dr. Meyer.
Dale Meyer: Hello Mark. I got to tell you, Pastor Klaus spoke right to me. Zing! I mean, like those disciples, I'm often fearful. "Jesus, don't You care?" Yeah, I got to confess, I don't trust Him often enough.
Mark Eischer: Right, and I share that thought as well. I mean, having been a Christian all my life, why are we this way?
Dale Meyer: It's a great question. I hope the answer is edifying to our listeners. That's the way we were made. Let's look at the text Pastor Klaus used. He talked about the question, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" But the text has more questions: Jesus asks the disciples, "Why are you so afraid?" Well, Jesus, we are afraid because we're emotional people.
A pastor friend of mine says that fear is the most common emotion. So while Adam and Eve were perfect and didn't fear until sin came into the world, we are made with our emotions-that include a lot of fears. So when something comes at us we can't handle, we get anxious, we worry. We fear for what's going to happen to us, and that's just the way we were made. God knows how we are. Psalm 103:14, "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
Mark Eischer: After Jesus asked them, "Why are you so afraid?" his second question is "Have you still no faith?"
Dale Meyer: Well, Jesus, not the way I should. You know, I identify, Mark, with a man who said, "I believe. Help my unbelief." Mark 9, great passage. I think of it often. Faith means trusting the promises of God. It's like putting out your hand to what God and Jesus promise us and hanging on for dear life. That's a work that the Holy Spirit has to do in us.
Mark Eischer: How does that work?
Dale Meyer: Well, Jesus spent a lot of time teaching His disciples. I talked about that last week. He spent time with them and taught them the Word. The Spirit works through the Word. So, when I am afraid and not trusting Jesus enough to get me through the storms of life, I need to go to the Word. I need to look at the promises that God makes to me.
Mark Eischer: Does that mean there's more to the Christian life than believing Jesus is your Savior?
Dale Meyer: Well, the heart of Christian life is believing that yes, Jesus is my Savior, your Savior from sin, and that's what we call "justification," but living that out, day in and day out, is called "sanctification." St. Paul says we walk by faith, not by sight. That is often easier said than done. We so often go by what we see and feel. On this side of heaven, here where we are buffeted by whatever storms come into our lives, we need to keep looking at Jesus. So we are constantly between our fears and our trust in Jesus.
Mark Eischer: Could you expand on that a little bit more?
Dale Meyer: I tell our students Christian living is a back and forth.
Mark Eischer: Okay.
Dale Meyer: On one hand, we do become afraid. That's the way we were made. Each of us is a bundle of emotions. When that happens, we go to God's Word, to the promises of Jesus, promises that He will take care of us. In my experience, that's comforting. Psalm 94:19 says, "When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul." But then I go back to life, and what happens? Fears pop up again. So what does a Christian do? Go back to the Word. That's why Christian living is a continual back and forth.
Mark Eischer: And that has implications as to whether one goes to church or not.
Dale Meyer: Absolutely, it does. Time in church is time to focus on the promises that God will indeed take care of us. That's how the Holy Spirit works faith in us, through the Word. But when church is over, you go back to your life. Storms and all, and fears inevitably arise again. So next Sunday, back to church, back to the promises, back to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now I should add that during the week, devotion is important for the same reason, reminding ourselves constantly of Jesus' promise to be with us. But back to topic of going to church: people ask, "Why should I go to church every Sunday?" The answer is the storms of life. Church is like being in a boat and hearing Jesus stand and say, "Peace, be still." I love the passage from Isaiah 26, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever."
Mark Eischer: And there's one more question in the text.
Dale Meyer: You're right, Mark. The disciples ask, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" This is the Son of God, our Creator and Sustainer of all life. And Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1 that in Jesus Christ all the promises of God are yes!
Mark Eischer: Any final thoughts?
Dale Meyer: Mark, you know I love hymns. This one comes to my mind. "As a mother stills her child, thou canst hush the ocean wild. Boisterous waves obey thy will, when thou sayest to them, be still. Wondrous sovereign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me."
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"Come, My Soul, with Every Care" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)