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!”
So, every week is a week of unexpected ministry moments and challenges that cause me to need to fully rely on God. This week was no exception. There have been illnesses and surgeries and moments of shock and surprise for which I am so grateful that Jesus is my anchor. My husband got some tough news about his blood work this week which can all be helped with some medication and lifestyle changes, but it is still a shock when those moments come. Sweet Maxine Duncan sat on the front row during last week’s service. She had attended Sunday School and had been ministering to a friend that morning It was such a shock to get the call on Monday night that she had been found unresponsive.
We also had church members lose loved ones this past week. In addition, a person in the community passed away-someone I had never met, but one of her dying wishes was that I would do her service. As I put some thoughts together for that service, I borrowed some thoughts I had put together for another funeral service, and I have developed that meditation into this morning’s message at the direction of the Holy Spirit. God used some difficult, stormy moments to shape His Word for us today.
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 anyone here this morning 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.
This leads me to my first point for this morning: Storms can come unexpectedly.
It seems the disciples were in trouble without warning. Some moments in life cannot be prepared for. Am I telling the truth? There are punches you don’t see coming. I know in my own journey, when I was 40 years old and again when I was 43, I was sucker punched in a way that almost took me out. The truth about the life my father had lived came crashing like lightning over the landscape of my life. Learning about duplicity, deception and deviance in his life rocked my boat, shattered my heart, and I remember being so shocked I thought, “This can’t be happening!” Ever been there? Unexpected storms bring this sense of not knowing what to do next. When you know a storm is coming you can somewhat prepare. You can batten down the hatches. You can save up for that rainy day that is coming. You can educate yourself on a good step to take once the storm breaks over your boat. At least you can ready yourself for it mentally, but when it comes out of the blue, the shock can almost be too much.
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. Jesus could actually be labeled a “know-it-all” and the label would be accurate. He knew the hearts and thoughts of people when He spoke to them. He knew details about people’s lives without asking them questions and without hearing about them from others. He knew Lazarus would die and that He would raise him from the dead. He had perfect knowledge which included knowing the future.
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. Storms aren’t known to produce peace, but fear. Unless you are one of those crazy storm chasers or meteorologists who likes to get as close to dangerous winds as you can, storms usually produce fear. We see in verse 40 that the disciples were afraid.
Now fear can be a healthy emotion to cause us to move away from danger. When our “Spidy-sense” is up, that may be God’s way of saying, “Don’t do that,” or “Run away from that.” 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?
Do we believe that this morning? Scripture teaches it, but do we believe it? Do we believe Jesus is the Master of any situation? If so, what is there to fear, ever? The fact that Jesus was asleep, that Jesus was calm, that Jesus was at peace should have been an indicator that there was no reason to fear. The disciples were afraid because they were looking at their circumstances when they needed to be looking at Jesus. They needed to let what they knew about Jesus, what they could see in Jesus’ body language, they needed to let those things become the indicator of things to come.
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?
Fear can rob us of rest. We give our circumstances power over us when we allow fear to creep into heart heads and hearts. Jesus wants us to know we can rest because He is the Master of every situation. I love the Gospel song that puts it this way:
My boat of life sails on a troubled sea
Èver there’s a wind in my sail, but i have a friend who watches over me
When the breeze turns into a gale I know the master of the wind. I know the maker of the rain
He can calm the storm and make the sun to shine again I know the master of the wind.
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?
We are all-in with Jesus and loving being part of a church family and enjoy jamming to our Christian music and love finding a new devotional and a new podcast to listen to. We are excited when we see an awesome Christian meme we can share on our social media, and worship is more fun than riding the Diamond Back at King’s Island, but when the storm hits…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?
Maybe this next thought is why God has sent you here today. Listen with 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.
The disciples had heard teaching after teaching by this point. They had seen miracle after miracle. There was no reason for them to doubt that God was up to something in their lives. You see, in our humanity, we think the presence of storms points to the absence of God or to a lack of love from God. Not so my friends. Storms remind us that we need Someone in our lives who knows the way through and the way out of life’s difficulties. If you never had a storm, if you never had a trial, if life was all unicorns and rainbows, what need would you see for God? And if you see no need for God because life is always easy, you will miss having the relationship with God that can take you into eternity in Heaven, and I guarantee you that life in Hell isn’t easy. It will be infinitely worse than our worst day here. No, God uses storms to develop our faith so that we connect with Jesus, learn to trust Him, and walk with Him through the storm and one day right into His eternal presence.
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. Tell you neighbor, “Jesus offers comprehensive coverage.”
But in their fear, as their faith lapsed, the disciples assumed the worst. That’s what fear and doubt do. They cause us to assume the worst. They cause us to think that this time we aren’t going to make it. Listen my friends, one day each of us will take our last breath here and move into eternity, but until then, if Jesus says, “Get in the boat, and let’s go to the other side,” you can live with the assurance that is exactly what will happen.
Jesus spoke to the winds and waves and the storm was stilled. Notice what verse 39 says. It was COMPLETELY calm. When Jesus speaks to a circumstance there is a wholeness, a completeness that results.
What the disciples would have been able to rest in from that moment on was that if something needed handled Jesus would handle it. If something needed stilled Jesus would still it. You see that is the power of our God. He doesn’t just bring peace during peaceful or easy times, but He brings peace in the midst of the storm.
I am glad the Bible tells us that the disciples woke Jesus up. That’s a good thing. They invited Jesus into their fears and doubt. That was a wise and strategic move because there is no quicker way to lose your peace than to try to handle life’s storms on your own.
Sometimes people call on Jesus way later than they should. I don’t know if the disciples held off a while before calling on Him. I don’t know if as the furious squall came up it started with a gentle wind and a little rocking of the boat. Many of the disciples were experienced fishermen. I don’t know if they were tempted to rely on their skill and previous experience. I don’t know if they first evaluated the sky and talked among themselves to draw conclusions about how bad this was going to get and how long it would last. I don’t know if someone took charge and told people how to get into the best position in the boat to try to steady it. I don’t know if a few of them tried to bail some of the water out that was coming in on the sides. I don’t know how long it took for them to wake Jesus up, but I’m glad they did.
Do you know some folks who don’t want to “bother” Jesus? I’m talking about people who think their concern is too small to call on Jesus, folks who think He has bigger things to handle than what they are dealing with, as if He can’t handle everything at once. Here’s what I know, fear and doubt become dominant in the heart and life of the person who won’t call on Jesus for help.
I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to live without the Storm Stiller, the Wave Walker, and the Wind Whisperer in my life. And I am glad I don’t have to.
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.