Who Controls Your Storms? (Mark 4:35-41)
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Who Controls Your Storms?
The Gospel of Mark 4:35 to 41
Maybe you’ve never heard of the MS Estonia. It sank in the Baltic Sea not long ago, on September 28, 1994, claiming 852 lives–one of the deadliest maritime disasters in the late 20th century. As the ship was crossing the Baltic Sea, she was carrying 989 passengers and crew. According to the final report, the weather was rough, with a wind blowing 33 to 45 mph, and significant waves measuring 10 to 13 feet were pounding away at the ship.
The first sign of trouble on board the Estonia was a strange sound of metal against metal, heard around 1:00 am. From this point, catch how fast this ship went down–noise at 1 am. About 1:15 am, the ship took on a heavy starboard list. Then at about 1:20 am, a weak female voice called, “Alarm, alarm, there is alarm on the ship,” over the public address system. A moment later, an internal alarm for the crew was transmitted over the public address system. Soon after that, a general lifeboat alarm was given.
Quickly, the vessel lurched some 30 to 40 degrees to starboard, making it practically impossible to move about safely inside the ship. Doors and hallways became deadly pits. Those who were going to survive were already on deck by then. A mayday was communicated by the ship’s crew at 1:22 am (that’s 8 minutes after the first list, and 22 minutes after a strange sound). Yet due to loss of power, she could not give her position, which delayed rescue operations.
The ship disappeared from the radar screens of other ships at around 1:50 am. The first rescue ship arrived at the scene of the accident at 2:12 am, and the first rescue helicopter arrived at 3:05 am. Out of a total of 989 passengers and crew on board, only 137 were saved. The accident claimed 852 lives by drowning and hypothermia. You can never be prepared for the sinking of a ship. A rough wave, a sudden storm, a mysterious collision–then disaster. But doesn’t it seem like our lives are just like that? Like a sea, there are days of calm and beauty, then terrifying storms?
Never forget, God promises His children, we will experience storms–there is the storm from TRIALS. James 1:2 and 3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
There is the storm of SUFFERING for Christ. Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Then there is the storm of HORRIBLE SITUATIONS falling on regular people. Luke 13:4 and 5, “’Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”
This is a sinful fallen world. In the Bible, there were God-caused or -allowed bear attacks, wiping out a bunch of young men, lions who killed, floods that wiped out, earthquakes that gobbled up, and hostile enemies who destroyed entire villages. Everyday life itself is a storm . . .
Medical storms requiring painful treatments and hospital stays
Relational storms that consume your life for seasons
Financial storms when you lose a job or make poor choices with money
Spiritual storms of doubt, and the feeling of distance from God
Immature storms of Ephesians 4, where you’re tossed to and fro
Emotional storms, where grieving, crying, and loss is felt greatly
So how should Christians deal with storms? Answer: Depend on the controller of all storms and trust Him in the midst of your storm. When you truly believe God is more powerful than any storm, and the controller of every storm in your life, you will glorify God, grow in Christ, and be at peace. Christians with a low view of God are weak and miserable–they whine about their stormy circumstances, forget God’s character, miss God’s heart, and don’t depend on God’s Word. But Christians who see God for who He really is, the God who’s all-powerful and has all authority, as the sovereign King over all, are passionate and committed to Christ, and it shows.
Open your Bibles to the end of Mark 4, and follow along in your outline as Mark exposes just how able Christ really is. He shows Jesus to be the veiled “God in a bod” on our planet–fully God and fully man. And now Mark will prove just how powerful Jesus is with four great miracles in a row in Mark 4 and 5–four D’s.
Chapter 4:35 to 41, today, shows His power over the DEEP
5:1 to 20, demonstrates Christ’s power over the DEMONIC
5:21 to 34, displays Christ’s power over DISEASE
5:35 to 43 shows Christ’s power over DEATH
Mark will prove Christ’s total authority and absolute power–why? Romans were impressed by power and authority. And Mark makes it clear Jesus has more power than all the Roman legions, and more authority than Caesar himself. Read with me Christ’s great power over creation, starting in verse 35, “On that day, when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?’ 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” Maybe you didn’t notice, but Mark includes:
#1 Some FASTIDIOUS details, proving an eyewitness account
Look carefully at these verses with me–when you compare them to the parallel accounts in Matthew 13 and Luke 8, you find that Mark adds some very specific detail.
Verse 35–the hour of the day was evening, plus the disciples took Jesus in the boat
Verse 36–the presence of other boats (and other boats were with Him), plus the boat filling with water (the boat was already filling up)
Verse 37–where Jesus was asleep (Jesus Himself was in the stern), plus where he laid his head while sleeping (asleep on the cushion)
Verse 38–the disciples rebuking Jesus (do You not care we’re perishing?), plus the Lord’s rebuke (why are you afraid?)
Verse 40–the awe of the disciples (they became very much afraid)
What is the point of all this? Don’t you get it? When you tell a fictional story, you only give enough details to move the plot along. But when you share an eyewitness account, you record many details simply because you remember them. This event contains all kinds of fastidious details, reminding us this event really happened. It’s being recorded by an eyewitness–Peter was there, and he’s sharing this real event through His disciple, Mark, to reach Romans and us today.
Peter had firsthand knowledge of where Christ was in the boat and where He laid His head, which does little to advance the story, but tells us he was there, and Christ really did this. So let’s get into the boat with the Lord as He makes . . .
#2 A FAST exit to get some rest
Mark pictures an evening departure. After a busy day, Jesus, at his own request, is taken aboard by the disciples. The group is headed for the eastern shore, about six miles away. Look at verse 35, “On that day, when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’”
“On that day when evening came”—what day? All of chapter 4–what a day that had been. Most believe Jesus on this day faced the opposition of His enemies, His friends, even His family–He taught parables, then explained them privately to His men, and on that same day, now that it’s evening, there’s one more task. What is it? Get some sleep–the Lord is exhausted. Yet Jesus will also call His men to get in the boat so that they almost die. On that same day they will experience a storm like no other.
Sometimes trouble comes from our own sin and foolishness, but this event convinces us there are many times when the Lord Himself leads us into an incredibly scary storm. The Lord is going to give His men a pop quiz at the end of the day. Do they “get Him” yet? Do they know who they’re following? Let’s find out by taking the Lord’s special graduate level class–Storm Theology 101.
What’s the Lord do? Verse 36, “Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.” Jesus tells His men, “Let’s go”–but verse 36 clarifies it’s the disciples, many who are fishermen, good boatmen and experienced sailors, who are the ones who take Jesus along with them in the boat. When verse 36 says they took Him along with them in the boat, the implication is, “Come with us, Jesus–we’ll take care of you. You’re in safe hands with us.” The reality was–they were in safe hands the moment Jesus stepped on board with them.
But why, verse 36, did they leave the crowd? Jesus was not only 100% God, but also 100% human—and Jesus needed rest. He was tired–He was dog-tired, bone-tired, dead-tired. Jesus was completely exhausted. In verse 36, “Leaving the crowd,” Jesus needed to get away from all those people. Not only did they crowd the shore when He taught, but they even surrounded Him in boats. Do you see that in verse 36? “And other boats were with Him.”
The Lord is taking off for the Garasenes–the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, which had no large cities, thus fewer people. So Jesus says, “Let’s go.” Look closely at verse 36. See the phrase, “just as He was”? I have pondered that puzzling phrase for weeks now. “Just as He was”, meaning a sense of urgency . . . just get going now . . . don’t prepare to go . . . let’s just depart now. “Just as He was”, meaning nothing special . . . just the Lord alone . . . in a physically weakened state . . . exhausted, in need of rest and sleep. “Just as He was”, meaning no extra supplies, no extra boating gear in case of a storm, nothing additional–let’s take off boys. “Just as He was”, meaning nothing unique about Christ, no special sense that something supernatural is about to happen. “Just as He was”, some think, the Lord is not going to change. “Just as He was”, but He is going to change us–we’re sinful, He’s perfect.
Verse 36, “Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.” A small flotilla goes with them, letting us know others are about to witness an amazing all-powerful miracle. Immediately, the boat pulls away in the quiet calm of the evening. They make a fast exit, then kaboom–out of nowhere! Verse 37, “And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” This is . . .
#3 A FEROCIOUS Storm, to top all storms
A violent gale arises without warning–the wind is howling, the waves are crashing against the boat, which is now beginning to sink. This is a bad storm–like a class 5 hurricane storm with 155 mph winds. This storm is so bad, even the professional sailors on the boat with Christ, those men who spent their entire lives on this lake, grew up by the lake, played on the shore and swam in its waters, then worked there, even experiencing other storms on the lake–even those skilled fishermen think they’re going to die because this storm is that bad!
This storm could actually be a demonically-enhanced storm. The Bible does indicate that sometimes demonic forces are involved when storms wreak havoc on the world in Revelation 7 and 8. Plus, when Jesus rebukes the storm, He uses the same words used in exorcising a demon–so it could be here that Satan saw an opportunity. Jesus is asleep, He is dog–tired, physically weakened and on a boat–all I have to do is sink that boat, and I can kill Him.
But you don’t need demons to experience a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee–they are common, and they are deadly. The Sea of Galilee sits about 700 feet below sea level. And just 30 miles to the north is Mount Hermon, covered in snow at 9,200 ft–plus the Mediterranean Sea is even closer, so when the cold air from the mountain or sea accelerates through some narrow cliffs and meets the warm air coming up from the lake, the result is some impressive storms. Water can rise 13 feet on the shore, and the waves can be as high as 6 to 10 feet.
I’ve been on the lake in a storm with waves at 4 foot high, and I was in a boat with a hull that sat about 6 feet above the water line, and even with that, we were getting soaked. Can you imagine being in a storm like this with a boat like theirs, which sat only 2 feet above the water line? Mark and Luke use an interesting Greek word to describe the fierce gale–it is used elsewhere to describe a whirlwind, fierce . . . it is literally “mega”. And Matthew describes this same storm as siesmos, a sea quake–a great shaking. They’re taking a boat ride in a washing machine.
I know you’ve been in a pool–relaxing, floating on a mat with your eyes closed, when all of a sudden a friend or two decide to cannonball you, which capsizes your mat, and sends you into the pool. This storm is a similar scene, except it would be like the entire Green Bay football team cannonballing you all at once, which is maybe all they’re good for this year. This storm is so violent, verse 37 says the waves were breaking over the boat so much that “the boat was already filling up.”
It doesn’t matter that about half the men in this boat are professional fishermen. It doesn’t matter that there are other boats nearby filled with friends and fans. This storm is so vicious they’re sinking, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Never forget, Christian, the presence of Christ on board does not guarantee a smooth passage in life.
Later, Peter comforts Christians going through the storm of suffering and persecution, and says this to them in 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” The Lord does not promise His protection from the storm, but He does promise His presence in the storm.
And I wonder, don’t you, what it was like on board all the other little boats in the flotilla, filled with the Lord’s friends and fans? None of them had Christ on board, which is a sobering thought. Disasters, trials and the storms of life shake God’s own children—us. What must it be like to be caught in a deadly storm in life without the all-powerful, loving, wise, gracious Savior to turn to? Even the Lord’s closest earthly friends were in a panic, giving us . . .
#4 Some FRANTIC Outcries of men, fearful of drowning
All during this violent storm, Jesus is in the stern–hurricane winds, splashing waves, and what is Jesus doing? Sleeping! Verse 38, “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” The original is written with the word “sleeping” at the very end of the Greek sentence, creating a dramatic contrast. It says, “But he [Jesus] was in the stern, on the headrest, sleeping.”
Plus the participle “[was] … sleeping” pictures Jesus slumbering peacefully–no tossing and turning. He was “out like a light”. Luke 8 gives us the impression that Jesus fell asleep as soon as the boat left the shore, showing us just how tired he really was. It also shows us that our Lord’s trust in His heavenly Father was unfaltering, deep, confident, trusting and undistracted. No roaring wind, splashing sea, rolling waves–not even a rapidly filling boat or getting wet, was able to awaken him. Jesus was just like Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”
Now Jesus was not necessarily resting on a soft pillow. When it says in verse 38 he was asleep on the cushion, it’s better translated headrest–probably made of leather or wood. There was no room for a bed on these boats–He’s sleeping on a bench in the stern, and has His head on a headrest. But His sleeping is as remarkable as the storm itself, isn’t it? Jesus was utterly exhausted. Here He is, the Controller and Creator of the universe, and yet He was snoozing on a bench, in a boat, during a bad storm.
Jesus is fully God, but also fully man in one person–the hypostatic union. It wasn’t that some of His actions were divine and others were human, but everything Jesus did was fully God and fully man in one person. That’s why Christ was hungry, wept, was grieved, in pain and now tired. Have you ever been that tired, like you were comatose? I know kids who sleep through accidents, earthquakes, explosions, shouting, fireworks and yelling. Much like that, saturated in trust, Jesus sleeps through this gale.
But His rest does not last, verse 38, “And they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” Have you ever been woken up suddenly from a deep sleep? Sergeants in the military, collegiate men doing jokes with air horns could not have been more abrupt to the Lord who is passed out. There’s implied grogginess here, since their waking Him up was ongoing, and the word “waking” implies “physically raising”.
Plus the twelve are so afraid they’re all shouting at Jesus at the same time. Each of the gospel accounts of this event record three different pleas from the men:
“Lord, save us, we’re perishing” in Matthew
“Master, master, we’re perishing” in Luke
“Master, don’t you care that we’re perishing?” in Mark
These men were terrified–and fear always distorts faith. So picture a prone and groggy Jesus, being physically raised up to a sitting position, while being yelled at by His most trusted friends, who are shouting over the storm–accusing Jesus of not caring! They were doubting Christ’s love for them. It was the cruelest of questions–“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Why cruel? Because the very reason Jesus was in the boat–in fact why Jesus was in the world, and the reason why Christ went to the cross to die for their sins, was precisely because He cared for them.
Anytime you doubt God’s love or care, just look at the cross. Do you allow the storms of life to loosen the moorings of the Lord’s love in your life, which was proven to you on the cross, and shown to you so many other times in your life since coming to Christ? Then like me and like the disciples, you lack faith in Christ. They feel Christ doesn’t care because He’s asleep. Like we feel in a trial–alone, no one knows what’s happening. But Christ knows every wave that hits you.
But before you start feeling superior–remember, people do and say things they later regret when they’re frightened for their lives. And there is some trust here, since don’t you think it’s unusual for professional sailors to turn to a carpenter for help in a storm? Jesus was not yet fully awake. He was so out of it, He doesn’t quite catch on–but when He does, it leads to . . .
#5 One FANTASTIC Miracle of amazing power
Jesus stands up, commands the wind and the sea, and immediately the wind stops and the sea turns to glass in verse 39, “And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.” There is no panic on Christ’s part. God is never shocked by your trial, bad circumstances, tense relationship or physical test. God’s throne is established–He rules over all. Jesus never says, “Oops, sorry,” or, “I didn’t see that one coming.”
This is unbelievable, isn’t it? Jesus goes from sound asleep in His humanity, to a powerful demonstration of His omnipotent deity. Again, He is both God and man in one person, with no confusion. He didn’t flip a switch between deity and humanity, but every Word and every action was fully God and fully man, yet one person.
Verse 39 starts with, “And He got up,” meaning He arose, literally having been thoroughly aroused–He was groggy, but now fully awake. Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” So when Jesus woke up, two astonishing things happened . . .
First Were His words, a command of utter simplicity
He didn’t brace himself. He didn’t roll up His sleeves, or raise a wand.
There was no incantation, nor an appeal to a higher power.
There’s no indication He raised His voice–He simply looked out, spoke to a storm, and said “Hush, be still,” silent, be muzzled, like a demon
But even more amazing than that . . .
Second Was the storm, that obeyed Christ like a compliant child
Verse 39 says the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. That almost sounds like a redundancy, until you realize that Mark is talking first about the wind, then next about the water. Perfectly calm is mega, and could be translated “dead calm”. The Greek word calm means tranquil, without a ripple, an unruffled surface. Have you ever seen a lake that’s smooth as glass, no waves at all–you can actually see your face in the reflection?
Now, when the winds stopped after Jesus’ rebuke, though a slim chance that could have been a coincidence–a pretty slick one, but it could happen. But if you’ve ever gone on an ocean cruise, been to the beach during a storm, or lived by the shore sometime in your lifetime, you know even when the winds stop and the storm ends, the waves of a sea keep pounding for hours afterward. Yet when Jesus said, “Quiet, be still,” not only did the winds die down, but the water instantly went dead calm–from the churning of a tsunami, to water as smooth as a mirror.
Ancient cultures, including the Romans, viewed the sea as uncontrollable by any power but God. Mark now makes it clear to His Roman readers and us, Jesus was not calling on a higher power. Jesus is the highest power. No one controls the weather but God. When the Lord was with the Pharisees on the Sabbath He said, “I’m not just someone who can instruct you in rest, I am rest itself.” Now by His actions here with the storm, Jesus is demonstrating, “I’m not merely one who has power, I am power itself. Anyone and anything in the universe that has any power, has it on loan from Me.”
Hey, look up here–this means one of two things. This is crucial!
Option 1 This world is here as the result of a monumental storm, a Big Bang, and you’re here by accident, through blind chance, plus the violent forces of nature–and when you die, you’ll turn to dust. Then when the sun goes out, there won’t be anyone around to remember anything you’ve done–so in the end, whether you’re a cruel person or a loving person makes no lasting difference at all.
Option 2 If Jesus is who He says He is, then He’s the Lord of all the storms. Then no matter what shape the world is in, or your life is in, you will find Jesus is more than sufficient to provide all the rest, forgiveness, healing and all the power you could possibly need. There are only two choices–which option, will you submit to?
A ferocious storm was now a freaky calm. It must have been eerie–noise to nothing. And did you forget about the other boats of verse 36, “and other boats were with Him.” Did they survive? What did they see? They witnessed the storm firsthand–pounding waves to glassy mirror. But were they close enough to see Christ’s command? We don’t know. But we do know, after the Lord manifested His power . . .
#6 Some FAITHLESS Hearts were challenged
Read verse 40, “And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?’” Jesus asks them two questions . . .
1 Why are you cowardly/timid/fainthearted/small-souled?
They had failed to trust God’s Word. The Lord said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” But they had failed to trust what He said. They had allowed the voice of the storm to silence the voice of the Lord. They had allowed worry to erode their stand upon God’s Word. They had allowed fear to shake their faith. Then Jesus asks . . .
2 How is it you have literally not yet faith? (not “no faith”, but “not yet faith”)
The Greek words “not yet” is in the text—it’s not “no” faith, but “not yet faith”. Some translations use the word, “still” you have no faith? That is, even after all the miracles you have seen me perform, the words you have heard from my lips, and the life I’ve lived in your presence–has all this experience taught you nothing? By using that little word “still” or “not yet”, Jesus is teaching us–all our previous difficulties, along with His answers to prayer are all given to us for an important purpose. They’re to be used for our growth in sanctification–grow to be like Christ. So that next time we will trust Christ and not doubt–so that through the next storm, instead of stressing, we can sleep.
Like Joseph, who was betrayed by His brothers, made a slave, falsely accused, then sent to jail for years, said to His brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Christian, storms happen to you so that next time you can comfort those going through a similar storm with the comfort that God showed you, 2 Corinthians 1:4, “Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
But what we have here is the Lord High Admiral of all the seas, in the boat with the chicken of the seas. The greatest danger the disciples faced was not the storm on the outside, but their unbelief inside, as to who Jesus really was. You can actually translate Jesus’ second question, “Where is your faith?”, showing us the crucial issue with faith—it’s not its strength inside you, but its object outside of you. It is not whether you feel a strong faith, but where your faith is placed.
Imagine falling off a cliff, and grabbing onto the only branch that can save you. It really doesn’t matter how deeply you feel about the branch–all that matters is the branch is there to save you from falling to your death. Jesus is that branch. The real issue is not how deeply you work up faith in your heart internally, but who you place your faith in externally. It is not the quality of your faith that saves you, but the object of your faith. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the branch–all that matters is the branch. Christ is that branch.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith is a gift from God–He is the one who gives you faith. The point–if you want to believe but can’t, stop looking inside yourself and turn to Christ and say, “Help me believe.” Say to Him, “You are the one who gives faith! I have been trying to work it up by reasoning, thinking, feeling, experiencing, going to church in the hopes that a sermon will move me. I’ve been trying to get faith by myself. Now I see that You, Jesus, are the one source of faith. Please give me the faith to believe.” If you do that, you’ll soon find that Jesus has been seeking you–He’s the author of faith, the provider of faith and object of faith. So now, someone worthy of faith has caused . . .
#7 A FEARFUL Response was cultivated
The profound effect of the miracle is now described in these words in verse 41, “They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” The disciples were awestruck. They’d witnessed a violent storm, but they had never seen such an awesome display of supernatural power over the forces of nature.
The fear in verse 41 is different from the fear in verse 40. In verse 40, fear/deloi, arose from fretfulness over the storm. In verse 41, fear/phobos is a reverential fear over the awesomeness of Christ. The first expressed a lack of faith, the second expressed a sense of awe from being in the presence of God. Luke adds they were in fear and amazement–Matthew states they were amazed and astonished.
So before Jesus calms the storm they’re afraid, but after Jesus calms the storm they are terrified–why? Before Jesus was awakened, Mark says the boat was nearly swamped. The disciples couldn’t bail fast enough–they knew the boat was just seconds away from being sunk and they would die. And every one of us here who lives by faith knows what this feels like. Suddenly everything goes wrong, you feel like you’re sinking, and God seems to be asleep and unaware.
The disciples say, “Lord if you loved us, you wouldn’t let us go through this. If you loved us, we wouldn’t be about to sink. If you loved us, we wouldn’t have to go through this scary event.” But when they woke Him, Jesus didn’t say, “I understand how you feel.” No, He asked them, “Why were you afraid?”
“What do you mean, ‘afraid’, we thought we were going to die. We were afraid you didn’t love us, because if you loved us, you wouldn’t let things like this happen to us.” So Jesus tells them their premise is wrong. You should know better, boys. I do allow people I love to go through storms. You had no reason to panic. And if they had no reason to panic during the storm, they had even less reason to be afraid after it became calm, but verse 41 says they were terrified–very much afraid.
Why were they more terrified in the calm than they were in the storm? Because Jesus is greater than the storm. The only thing more terrifying than having a storm outside the boat was having God inside the boat! They couldn’t control the storm–and now it is obvious Christ is more powerful than the storm, and they have less control over Him. But there’s a big difference between a storm and Christ, isn’t there? A storm doesn’t love you–it’s impersonal.
This world is fallen. Even if you live a long time, your body is going to give out and die. This world is a violent place–there are accidents, fires, storms, earthquakes, wind, heat, and eventually all of us lose the battle and die. But you say, “Jesus is not under my control either. And He lets things happen to me I don’t understand. He doesn’t do things according to my plan, in a way that makes sense to me.” But if Jesus is God, then He’s got to be great enough to have reasons to let you go through things you can’t understand. His power is unbounded, but also are His wisdom and His love.
This world, nature itself, is indifferent to you, but Jesus Christ is filled with untamable love for you. If the disciples had really known that Jesus loved them–if they had really understood that He is both powerful and loving, they would not have been scared. The premise that if Jesus loved them, He wouldn’t let bad things happen to them was wrong. He can love somebody and still let bad things happen to them, because He is God, and He knows better than they do.
If you have a God who is great enough and powerful enough to be mad at, because He doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can’t understand. If you are at the mercy of a storm, its power is unmanageable and it does not love you. The only place you’re safe in this life is in the will of God. But because He’s God and you’re not, the will of God is necessarily, immeasurably beyond your biggest notion of what He is up to. Just as the children asked about the Christ figure in Narnia—“Is He safe?” “Of course He’s not safe, who said anything about being safe? But He’s good–He’s the King.”
Notice the final question at the end of verse 41, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Mark doesn’t answer that question in the text–He leaves it open for his readers to ponder. So ponder, “Who is this?” The answer is obvious—Jesus is God. He created you and controls all of life–He is the King!
Today, it should cause you believers . . .
To worship in awe–how can you not?
To confess lack of trust–confess complaints or doubts in your storm
To repent of your fears–fear always maximizes the problem, then minimizes God’s presence
To return to follow His loving Word in simple childlike obedience
To thank Him for giving you faith to trust Him in all things
The rest of you need to cry out for Christ to open your eyes and give you faith . . .
To trust your Creator and not creation
To turn from living life in your own strength, in your own way, for your own glory
To trust in God’s strength, live by His Word and all for His glory
How? By believing God’s unfathomable love for you in Christ–that God became a man in the person of Christ, died on the cross for your sins, rose from the dead, and lives now to give you new life. Surrender to Christ today–let’s pray.