We all know the feeling of drowning. Maybe not actual drowning in water, but at least metaphorical drowning. You know what it feels like when you can’t keep your head above water, when there seems to be no reprieve from the waves of life crashing over the side of your little boat. The situation in which the disciples found themselves in today’s Gospel is entirely relatable. First comes the panic, then the expectation of help which does not arrive, followed by a call to the Lord for help. What’s the most troubling in our hour of need isn’t the trouble itself. We know how to overcome disaster, and often fare better afterwards than we had before. What’s the most troubling is that realization that we aren’t in control of our own lives, that, despite the façade of self-reliance, we are completely reliant on God for every good gift which we enjoy. Though life’s troubles bring a rebuke for not trusting the One whom even the winds and sea obey, we are reminded of the promise that our God has all things under His control.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.