This sermon was presented at the 2023 Alumni Weekend for Modesto Adventist Academy. Some of the oral presentation has been retained.—Editors.
Forty years ago we could not have imagined the changes in the past several years. You probably remember where you were when the world shut down. For me, it was early Friday morning, and I was still in bed when I got the call announcing school was closed. In one night all schools and most businesses shut down. Who knew how long we would face empty streets, deserted grocery stores, and online school?
Society continues to change, but not for the better. Voices searching for someone or something to blame dominate the media. I see but one response, and it’s not more laws or initiatives to save the planet or Christian-themed TV and movies. The only solution I see is the need for a sincere thirst for Jesus along with diligent searching of the Scriptures. It’s my desire today to lead you to see in Jesus the only hope and answer to our predicament.
JESUS IS MY PEACE
There are two stories in the Bible about the disciples and Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. In the first, Jesus is exhausted after a tiring day of teaching and healing. He wants to cross to the other side of the lake. “The Saviour was at last relieved from the pressure of the multitude, and, overcome with weariness and hunger, He lay down in the stern of the boat, and soon fell asleep.”1 A great storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, and Jesus slept! He slept through the worst storm in the disciples’ memory! They were terrified and knew they’d be lost.
Have you ever been frightened or terrified? I’ve never been in a storm such as that on water, but what about receiving a call in the middle of the night, or a cancer diagnosis, or being told that your spouse wants a divorce? Maybe for you it was facing COVID or the possibility of losing your job, or a tornado, or experiencing an earthquake. It may not be a big event, but it can bring a lack of peace in your life. There’s uncertainty when we look in the mirror and we feel it. It’s fear that debilitates us and causes us to forget our Savior. This is what happened to the disciples. “Absorbed in their efforts to save themselves, [the disciples] had forgotten that Jesus was on board.”2 Has this happened to you? We forget Jesus. We claim to be Christians, talk about Jesus, go to church and Adventist schools, even study the Bible. But when calamity strikes, we fall into the devil’s trap of depression, worry, fear, doubt, or blaming. I’m so glad Jesus doesn’t give up on us when we forget Him!
Jesus asked the disciples, after He calmed the sea, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26) “If the disciples had trusted in [Jesus], they would have been kept in peace.”3 How do we remain at peace in the midst of our storms? In my journey with Jesus, I’ve come to understand that as long as I’m with Jesus, if I remember Jesus is in my boat, I have nothing to fear; though I may not understand and the storm is raging outside, I will have peace on the inside. Yes, Jesus is my peace.
JESUS IS MY TRUTH
Is it possible to know truth today? Certainly not from television, the tabloids, science, or social media. People pretend to be someone they are not. We can’t believe everything we see. So much information comes from so many directions, it’s difficult to know truth from deception. We must look to Jesus, who is the truth, and the truth we find in the Bible. Knowing the truth sets us free (John 8:32). If we feel we’re losing confidence in the Bible because of science, media, or the majority, I want to encourage you to read the Bible, and trust the Word of God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; He never changes! Yes, Jesus, the Word, is my truth!
JESUS IS MY SHEPHERD/LEADER
High school was a time we began to practice our independence. We wanted to be popular, well liked, and respected. Choosing class officers was a big deal. We wanted the right classmates as our leaders. But everyone follows; even leaders follow. The issue then becomes: Whom or what do we follow, and why?
Throughout Scripture Jesus is portrayed as a shepherd. Why? A shepherd leads, cares, comforts, bandages, protects, and provides for the sheep. A shepherd is the leader of the sheep. But why did the disciples follow Jesus; why choose Him as leader? Jesus brought no assurance of prosperity, safety, food, shelter, or social status. He had no home, was headed to a cross, and to follow Him meant potential persecution and possible death.
While Peter and the others didn’t always understand Jesus and often they misunderstood His mission, they recognized Jesus as Messiah. What they heard stirred their hearts as nothing had before! As Peter said: “Where else would we go?” (see John 6:66-68).
I admit to being stubborn. Personally, I’ve struggled with allowing Jesus to lead me, to be in charge in all areas of my life. I have finally recognized that Jesus, the Peacegiver, the Truth, the Good Shepherd, is completely trustworthy. Only Jesus’ words of life provide comfort, rest, sustenance, protection, truth, and guidance. Yes, Jesus is my shepherd/leader; I don’t want to follow another!
JESUS IS MY ALL IN ALL
I was 34 years old, single, and ready for my new adventure—moving across the country from California to Maryland. I had a job waiting, a new apartment, and an uncharted sea of unknown friends. I jokingly called myself “Mrs. Abraham.” Before I left, my best friend quoted this to me: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth” (Isa. 54:5). She encouraged me to seriously apply it to my life. This was a new idea to me—God in the role of husband to His people. How did that apply to my situation? How much I had to learn! Fast-forward 18 years, and this verse has become my mainstay. So what changed? How can one verse go from being highly puzzling to totally treasured? I can honestly say that though I’ve always been a committed Adventist Christian, I wasn’t always in love with Jesus. I didn’t see Him as my “all in all,” the only one I needed.
In one of the most heartbreaking periods of my life, I was in utter despair. My stomach was in knots, tears wouldn’t stop, and sobbing left me exhausted. I felt so alone! It didn’t last one day or one week, but a few months. Have you ever felt alone, heartbroken, and lost? I finally called out to God, and claimed His promise. “You said You’re the husband to Your people. I need You to care for me, to comfort me. You promised! I need You to do this for me!” Immediately a total calm washed over me; my tears ceased, my shaking body stilled, and I lay in peace. I will never forget how Jesus tenderly held me that day. I’ve always believed in Jesus, always believed the Bible, but I had never experienced such a dramatic personal intervention in my life. I began to recognize how much Jesus loved me and how He had always been faithful, always present, always available! His promises became real to me, and I chose to claim them, to trust that He would guide me through life.
Jesus is first in my heart; the one I turn to first for all my needs. I believe that when Jesus holds first place in our hearts, when we love Jesus more than any other, nothing can cause us to utterly despair. Yes, Jesus is my husband, for eternity! Forty years have passed since I walked these halls. Much has happened in that time; some I’m eternally grateful for, and some I’d like to forget. But my greatest lesson was allowing Jesus to become everything to me. I have total peace; I know the truth; I follow the only true Leader; and I rest in His care. The question today is: Who is Jesus to you? Is He someone to talk to throughout the day or just once in a while? Do you claim His promises for yourself? Is He the source of your truth, peace, and wisdom? Today’s world is increasing in crime and chaos, liberties are vanishing, and evil is proclaimed as good—all signs that Jesus is coming soon. But we have nothing to fear, because He is our hope and helper! I pray that we all choose Him today.
1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 334.
3 Ibid., p. 336.