Mark 4:35-41 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Notice that our text begins by saying in verse 35 that it was evening time when Jesus suggested that He and the disciples get into a boat and go to the “other side.” I don’t know if darkness was covering ominous, threatening clouds. I don’t know if it was obvious that a storm was brewing, but they thought they could safely cross to the “other side” or they wouldn’t have gotten into the boat. I know there had to have been some distance to cross and some significant time had to have elapsed because Jesus fell asleep in the boat. I doubt He would have fallen asleep if it had been a fifteen minute row to the “other side.” Can you testify to the fact that sometimes it takes more than a minute to get to the “other side” of something?
Verse 37 seems to indicate that the storm came out of nowhere. Look at it again: A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Storms can come unexpectedly. It seems the disciples were in trouble without warning. Some moments in life cannot be prepared for. There are punches you don’t see coming.
I don’t think the disciples would have knowingly gotten in the boat if they had seen the storm on its way. The text says a furious squall just came up. Water was coming into the boat as waves were breaking over the sides, to the point that the boat nearly sank. What this indicates to me is that this was the kind of situation the disciples were unable to handle on their own. In fact, even though there were 12 of them, even as a group, they didn’t have what it took to overcome the storm. When the water is coming in faster than you can bail it out, when the waves are tossing your boat to the place where you can’t safely stand or even sit securely, you are in a situation that is bigger than your ability to handle.
So, in verse 38, the disciples woke Jesus up, and they asked Him a question: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Is that a question you have ever asked of God? God, don’t you care that my heart is breaking? Don’t you care that I have to walk through this heartache called grief? Don’t you care that Christmas is coming, and I don’t have the money to provide the kind of Christmas I want to for my kids? Don’t you care that a job change is coming, and I don’t know if I will make ends meet? God, don’t you care that my spouse is cold and distant from me? God, don’t you care that this illness is robbing me of quality of life or don’t you care that my kid is on drugs or is away from you? Or God, _________________.
Storms bring questions, don’t they? We not only wonder about God’s love and care, but we question His purpose for all that we face. Do you remember whose idea it was to get into the boat in the first place? Verse 35 tells us that Jesus did. Now, we know from Scripture that Jesus was omniscient. That means He had perfect knowledge. If a storm was going to blow up, why would Jesus pick that as the time for the disciples to make their way to the “other side?” Couldn’t they have waited a few hours before moving on to the other side? Wouldn’t that have been good of Him to keep them out of harm’s way? Knowing that the storm was going to be part of the equation, couldn’t Jesus have at least given them a heads up? Knowing the storm was going to disrupt their peace, why did Jesus choose the boat ride for His nap time? It seems as if Jesus intentionally picked that time…that He meant on purpose for them to be in a boat during an unexpected storm. Why would He do that?
Do you think He wanted the disciples to learn that if He was leading someone’s life He could take them safely through any storm?
Another thing we learn from this story is that Storms encourage fear, but in this situation, the disciples really had nothing to fear. The storm was of no consequence to them BECAUSE Jesus was with them. Like, the One who had already demonstrated His power to do miracles was with them. This wasn’t Jesus’ first rendezvous with unexpected trouble. Not only did He possess power, but remember, He knew the future. The one who knew the future was with them. If Jesus had said they were going to the other side, could they not trust Him to make that happen?
Do you think He wanted the disciples to learn He was the Master of any situation?
Jesus had to know a storm was going on. I mean, you don’t sleep soundly in a boat where water is gushing in and waves are rocking you to and fro and you simply remain oblivious to it. The text tells us Jesus was asleep, so I believe it, but I also believe He was fully aware of what was going on. I think Mark just wanted us to know that when the disciples were all freaking out, Jesus was at rest. I think that is the point, and if Jesus wasn’t panicked, they didn’t need to be either. The fact that Jesus was napping should have been a clue that there was no reason to fear.
Do you think Jesus napped because He wanted the disciples to learn it was possible to sleep well during times of turbulance?
Well, in verse 40, Jesus asked them what had happened to their faith. They were going great guns, taking everything in, listening to Jesus’ teaching and learning and growing and then all of the sudden, bam, their faith was derailed in an instant.
Storms threaten our faith, don’t they?
Our faith can be shaken and even gone just as suddenly as the storm arose. What is that about? Is our faith just faith for the good times, or is it a real faith that will stand the test of times? Is our faith just based on our feelings and circumstances or is it based on our relationship with the Master of all things?
If it is based on our feelings and circumstances it will disappear every time a storm appears.
Do you think God allows storms into our lives and even leads us into a few because He wants us to have an opportunity to evaluate and grow our faith?
Take this into your hearts, friends. Your greatest storm isn’t anything around you, but it is the storm within you.
Until you settle who is Lord in your heart, until you live to present yourself daily to God and choose to live for Him alone, until you live in full surrender, your faith will be like my hair color and style, ever changing based on how I feel. Grow your faith, and the storms will be inconsequential. By that I mean, grow your relationship with Jesus and the storm will make no difference in your security and satisfaction.
You see, every storm brings us an opportunity to learn something more about God and His power than we knew before. The disciples had already learned Jesus had the authority to forgiven sin. They had already witnessed that Jesus had power over demons and diseases. Now here in this storm, they gained a greater understanding of Jesus ability to impact any situation. Here they learned that Jesus has authority over the natural elements. This storm should have told them whether they suffered a physical attack like an illness or a spiritual attack from demonic spirits or an attack from natural elements, Jesus would have them covered.
Don’t try to ride out the storm. Instead, run to the Savior. He is right there, and He isn’t afraid. He isn’t powerless. He isn’t oblivious. He just wants you to invite Him in.