Reflections: The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:23-27

Daily Lectionary: Zechariah 9:1-17; 2 Timothy 2:1-26

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. (Matthew 8:24)   

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ever felt like Jesus is sleeping on the job? Something really bad happens to you. The storm is raging. The winds are howling. The sea is unleashing all its fury. Then this goes wrong. Then that goes wrong. Then everything goes wrong. And your boat is now taking on water. At such times you, too, are crying out, “Save me, Jesus; I’m perishing!” Does He hear? Or, is Jesus sound asleep on the job? 

You’re not the first to wonder. God’s children have always struggled with fear and doubt. In the Book of Isaiah, God asks, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God?'” God would speak to all our fears and doubts even then, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary” (Isaiah 40:27-28).

Sending His own Son to suffer and die for you and for all the evidence of your unbelief, washing you holy and blameless every day with the promise of Jesus’ Cross in Baptism, sending pastors to speak His pardon over you, feeding you today with Jesus’ Body and Blood, “for you, for the forgiveness of sins,” guess what? There is no perishing, now, for you. It’s gone. No matter how dark the skies get, no matter how tossed about you may be in this life, no matter how much of the sea gets into your boat, there is no perishing for you, now. That’s been defeated for you by Jesus, when Jesus perished for you on the Cross.

I know there are times when it seems like Jesus is sleeping and not paying any attention. Today’s Gospel promises that this is just your unbelief talking. Because the truth is, God sees you as holy now in His sight. His child. And as such, He loves you fiercely. Even in the storm. Especially in the storm. Because of Jesus. That’s the truth. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

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. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany)

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Pastor-psychiatrist duo Rev. A. Trevor Sutton and Dr. Brian Smith have teamed up to help you evaluate your technology use through a Christian perspective. Learn how to form healthy, faithful technology habits with Jesus at the center. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.