The Life of Jesus - week 5 - Jesus: the one who brings peace
Sermon date: February 10th
Reading: Luke 8: 22-38
As people we invest time and energy into developing careers, our bodies, relationships, material possessions, but often do we neglect the spiritual dimension of our lives?
How do you actively pursue spiritual growth?
When was the first time that you experienced a peace which filled you with hope and assurance? Or do you feel you have never experienced God’s peace?
Discuss in two’s to start with and then let your group share some of what they have found to be true in their own lives.
Please read together Luke 8 v. 22-25
There is a sense of striving in us all as we set out in our lives, we all have different experiences and all of what we do and see plays its part in influencing how we cope. Also, our personalities influence how we react. However, as we grow in faith and experience more of who God is, I am confident that we can find a ‘Peace’ like no other and that this will sustain and help us in many ways.
In these first few verses of chapter 8 Jesus leads his disciples onto the lake, and they set sail for the other side. Jesus, at peace! Falls asleep and I always feel a little bit sorry for the disciples as they naturally are anxious when a storm begins to swamp the boat.
Q.1 would you have woken Jesus in this situation?
For some, the stilling of the storm gives a reason to say ‘trust Jesus in the storms of life’
Q.2 It might seem simple on the surface but how does one trust when all around is raging?
This passage seems to reflect more about faith than peace but as it is the set reading and you will have heard sermons last Sunday, I will base the study on it.
Jesus sleeps because he is exhausted from the day's teaching which included, in both Mark's and Luke's accounts, the Parable of the Sower. Jesus has been moving around Galilee teaching and healing in all the towns and villages and then he suggests they go across to the other side of the lake, Jesus takes his place in the stern, and is soon asleep (Luke 8:23). It is so difficult for us to visualize the Son of God as a man, but this scene helps us. The utterly exhausted teacher, who has been giving out day after day, is so tired that he is able to sleep through the rising storm.
Q.3 How do you imagine Jesus? How easy is it to hold the tension/balance between Jesus being human and the son of God?
The disciples become fearful and in their panic, they go to Jesus and wake him with alarm. I can see one of them shaking his shoulder. "Master, master, we're going to drown!" The word translated "going to drown" is the present tense of Greek ‘apollumi’ be destroyed, ruined, perish, and die. The present tense has the sense of present continuing action: It is happening! It is upon us! Utter panic!
Jesus gets up and rebukes the wind and the raging waters, the storm is stilled and all is quiet, peace has come upon the boat. Jesus then uses the same word he has used to rebuke the wind, to correct the disciples and he asks them ‘where is your faith’? It might be a reasonable question for Jesus to ask, for the disciples had already seen him heal the sick, cast out demons and turn water into wine. But when the situation they find themselves in is ‘life-threatening’ they forget all that and have a very human response.
Q.4 How easy is it to compartmentalize our lives? We do trust Jesus but when life takes a difficult turn, how can we know he will calm our storms?
They don’t appear to take offense at their rebuke, or even be consumed by Jesus’ disappointment in them instead "In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'"
I think for the disciples, the stilling of the storm was one of those, epiphany moments. Before this they had seen Jesus as a teacher and miracle worker. One they loved, one who brought them the words of life, one who promised nearness of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps he was the messiah, though they had scarcely dared to think that as yet. But now they saw him having a transcending power, that they had only before seen God have. This miracle can only be compared to something on the scale of Moses parting the Red Sea or God bringing manna in the desert.
They were stunned, even Peter, who always spoke, had no words.
Q.5 Has there ever been an epiphany moment in your life, where there were no words to describe what happened or how you felt?
Q.6 Has there been a time when you have felt that your faith has ‘dropped away’ can you share how you began to trust Jesus either for the first time or again after a time of doubt?
Please read together
For the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
I want to end with the actual theme ‘Peace’
we might indeed forget our faith at times, drop it along the paths of life, become complacent and comfortable but can I encourage us all, despite what we feel about our faith right now, to pick it up in a new way, trust that Jesus is ‘with us’ in all that we do and say. For God is in everything and everything is in God.
Over time and as we grow in our faith and prayer life, we will find a peace that will descend when we least expect it, a deep, a deep peace which is from within. A peace that is still there even if the boats of our lives are rocked by pain, suffering, death, loss, and much much more.
And then and only then, when we can see nothing else, will we then fully understand peace.
Q.6 How would you describe God’s peace and do you experience it in your life, if yes, how does it become apparent to you?
As you come to a close, remember that nothing can separate us from God, no one or any situation that is for certain, we will be with God and his peace will be in and around us always.
Please read together
I have told you these thing, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16 v.33)
As a group, how could you grow in faith and in peace?
Discuss a way that you might commit to maturing as disciples and then put that plan into action. It would be good if you made notes of what you decide and then look back in a few months to see how you are all getting on with you ideas?
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Jesus and the blessing of God Almighty, be with us and those who we love, now and always. Amen