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Lectionary Lesson for June 21, 2015

Who Is This?

Focal Point: Sometimes we need to take a step


back and be awed by God.
First Reading (Hebrew Scripture)
Job 38:1-11
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurementssurely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
2

On what were its bases sunk,


or who laid its cornerstone
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
8 Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?
9 when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
6

11

and said, Thus far shall you come, and no farther,


and here shall your proud waves be stopped?

Background
What is the first thing you usually think about when you hear about the story of
Job? For most of us, we think, oh, hes the guy who had to learn patience! Lots
of trouble, tons of questions those are certainly things Job had to endure. It is a
book about suffering though the questions Job asks may not deal with
suffering in quite the way we expect.
In many ways, the story of Job is to illustrate the way that suffering in our world
does not happen. Sometimes, there is no apparent rhyme or reason for the
suffering. In Jobs time, the assumption was that good people enjoy good
things, and that if bad things are happening to you, you must have done
something bad.
Job is called a blameless and upright in the books introduction (Job 1:1.) Any
church in their right mind would be thrilled to have Job as a member faithful in
attendance, a generous giver, always willing to volunteer. They dont come any
better than Job!
Yet, Job suffers devastating losses his business, his home, his children.
Practically anyone would be tempted to ask, Why me, Lord? But Job never
does. He does spend a great deal of time telling God how he feels and evokes
some of the most honest language in all of scripture when addressing the
Almighty.
Which is what sets up our passage for today. After Job (and his friends, who are
quoted at length in previous chapters) has had his say, God steps to the podium
and asks a few questions of Gods own.
Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Thats a
pretty strong opener essentially, Just who do you think you are, son, speaking
of things you dont really understand?
From there, God uses a series of questions to lay out for Job (and for us) just
exactly what it is thats involved in being God. Laying the earths foundations,
measuring the skies, creating and sustaining stars and the universe, placing a
boundary on the oceans. Pretty impressive!
All in all, this speech by God (which continues through two more chapters)
serves to give Job a whole new perspective. In the end, Job says, I lay my hand
on my mouthI will speak no more. (Job 40:4-5) Perhaps we would do well to
follow the example of Job and step back a bit and consider just exactly Who it is
we are speaking to when we worship and pray.

Gospel Reading
Mark 4: 35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, Let us go across to
the other side. 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in
the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm
arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being
swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke
him up and said to him, Teacher, do you not care that we are
perishing? 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace!
Be still! Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to
35

them, Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? 41 And they were filled
with great awe and said to one another, Who then is this, that even the
wind and the sea obey him?
All scriptures from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.

Background
Mark writes with a very concise, almost clipped style that moves the action
forward without a lot of chatter. The set up for the story is simple: Jesus and his
disciples have been working hard and could really use a break. It was difficult
for Jesus to set a closing time for the people who came to him the needs
were ever-present. So, they use the boats in an attempt to put some space
between themselves and the crowds.
The exhausted Messiah takes advantage of the break by catching a nap in the
rear of the boat. As fate would have it, a storm blows up and turns the situation
pretty serious. To lap over the side of the boat, the waves would have probably
been in the 4-6 foot range. If youve ever been on the water in a small craft, you
know that that will turn your tummy in a hurry!
Jesus snoozes on, and the disciples get both frantic and a bit perturbed. When
they wake him up, they accuse him of not caring about their fate. Jesus
promptly admonishes the wind and the sea, which both subsequently settle
down. Perhaps a little ill himself (which of you likes being waked up out of a
deep sleep when youve been really, really tired?) Jesus offers a not-so-gentle
rebuke to his followers: Whats wrong with you peoplewhy should you be
afraid? Wheres the faith Ive been trying to teach you to have in God?

Like our passage from Job, the response of the disciples is one of awe and
wonder maybe with a touch of sheepishness on the side. Now it is their turn to
ask the question of the day Who is this?
Do we ever get so used to the mundane business of coming to church, reading
the texts, saying the prayers, singing the songs that we kind of forget who it is
were dealing with here?
Hopefully, we dont have to wait for a storm to blow into our lives, tempting us to
doubt Gods care for us, before we stop and realize the awesomeness of
Jesus in our midst. It is a gift not to be valued lightly.

Questions for Discussion


How long has it been since you
stopped and took a good look at the
world around you? Have you taken the
time wonder how something as simple
as a tree growing is, in and of itself,
pretty miraculous? What about those
questions God asked Job how is the
earth supported in space? What about
the mysteries revealed to us through
modern technology like the Hubble
Space Telescope? How did all those
stars and galaxies get out there?
(check out hubblesite.org for some great shots!)
Why does Jesus ask the disciples if they have no faith? By asking them to
assess their fear, what do you think he hopes they will understand?
If you had to describe God and Jesus in one sentence each, what would you
say?

Making the Bible Practical


Make a plan now in advance for the next scary situation you may face in
the real world. Are there encounters or tasks you regularly face that cause you
to be anxious? Try praying in advance, Lord, I know that you do care for me,
and that you are with me in my time of trial. Calm me, Lord, and carry me
through the storm.
Imagine Jesus fast asleep while your problems rage around you join him, why
dont you?