There are numerous forces in this world that threaten to destroy our lives. One of the forces is other people -wars destroy human lives. Violent humans, gangs pose a threat to our lives. But if someone hostile towards me, I can device various ways to live safely in their presence or to avoid their threat. I may flatter them, I may bribe them, I may negotiate with them to spare my life, or I may flee from them. I can find all sorts of technique to calm down the hostility of my enemy.
In addition to these threats of violent human beings living on the planet, we also face the fear of the forces of nature, which threaten to destroy us. We are threatened by floods, by fires, by earthquakes, by disease, and host of other forces of nature. How do we deal with these impersonal forces of nature that would destroy us? How do we negotiate with a cancer or virus epidemic like COVID-19? What good it is to flatter a devastating fire? How do you bribe floods, earthquakes, or tsunami? Can we negotiate with a storm or a hurricane or tornado?
In gospel of Mark, we find an example of the terror that is provoked among men by the apparent impersonal forces of nature. We are seeing a unique incident where Jesus’ power is demonstrated in a mighty way.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he 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?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
– Mark 4:35-41
Did you notice in the text that when they got into the boat everything was calm, and everything was ok? Everything was going the way they should. There was no sign of a storm or a calamity when they started their journey. It was a long day and they were tired and the night has come, but all of a sudden here comes a fierce storm without a warning, without giving them any time to put a plan in place, at an unexpected time.
Sounds familiar? We all go through these kinds of storms, don’t we? We all go through the pain, suffering and trials in our own lives. Many times one after another, and they come from nowhere, and unexpected moments; we don’t have any opportunity to get ready; we don’t have any chance to put a plan in place together. Many times we handle those situations, but other times we don’t know how to handle them at all.
Just put yourself in the shoes of those fishermen in the boat. They were in the middle of a fierce storm. They didn’t know how long they could live. They were terrified. These were seasoned fishermen, who spent virtually every day of their lives fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and they were all familiar with storms on the lake, but this was nothing like before. Here was a God-ordained storm to accomplish a miracle, to put our Lord in the position to demonstrate that He is in fact the one who controls His creation.
In those 7 verses Mark has packed tons of details for us to learn. The point here is that Jesus wants to teach us that He can be trusted in the most threatening of circumstances in our lives. This is a faith lesson. Here are three life-jackets to hold on to when you sail through a stormy weather.
Take Jesus at His word (V35-36)
Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. The interesting thing is that it is not disciples who went to Jesus and proposed him to go to the other side. But, it was Jesus said to them “let’s go to the other side”. Jesus purposely went with them in to their storm. This is a divinely appointed incident. Jesus knew exactly what would happen when they get in to the middle of the sea.
Not only this storm, every storm happening in our lives Jesus knows. The first thing we need to understand is this; when a storm hits our life Jesus goes with us into the storm. Not only that, He has the sovereign control over it. Regardless of how rough the storm gets, regardless of how long the storm is going to last, if Jesus is saying “we are going to the other side”, then we are going to the other side! You can take Jesus at His word.
One of the great blessings of Christian life is that God gives us so many promises in His word as we go through storms. You may be going through a brightest sunny days in your life or you may be going through a stormiest night right now, and you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. But the reality is that these promises are always be true no matter what the circumstance in your life because God is the one who makes them all and He is always true.
So, when you’re in the middle of a crisis God may not tell you exactly how your individual circumstance going to end. But He does promise that He will give you the supernatural peace in the middle of your storm. Do not let the voice of the storm become louder than the voice of the Lord! If Jesus is saying “we are going to the other side”, then we are going to the other side!
Get to Jesus Early (V37-38)
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he 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?”
If we honest to ourselves, many of us agree that for us it takes a while in our storms to get to Jesus. When a storm hit suddenly, we try to do everything to fix it ourselves first. We work hard, we try to figure it out ourselves what to do, but nothing works and then finally we go to Jesus. I think it is where the disciples right now. These were seasoned, professional fishermen in the Sea of Galilee. They were day in and day out fishing in this sea. They were accustomed to storms in the lake. They thought that they could handle it. Why should a fisherman ask help from a carpenter? They might have done all the things that they could do to save the boat. It started with something you think that can handle and before long it will totally sweeping you away. It is where the disciples right now. With utter desperation now they rush to Jesus who is sleeping at the back of the boat and said “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
It doesn’t sound like a call for help to me. They were more annoyed that Jesus was sleeping and they have to do all the rescue work like emptying water in the boat. I don’t think they believed Jesus could help. How could a Carpenter help Fishermen? These disciples have seen Jesus performing many miracles when other people going through storms. They have seen Jesus giving limbs to lame, healing diseases, casting out of daemons, supernatural provisioning. At this moment these fishermen didn’t believe that this carpenter could do the same thing in their own storm.
Sometime the very same thing can be true in our lives too. We have seen God doing all these great things for other people. We see the provision, protection, help and the healing. And we praise God for what He’s done. But we doubt that God can do the very same thing for us. We think we can handle.
Fear Jesus for who He is (v39-41)
You got to understand that when Jesus said these words “Peace! Be silent!” it’s not like, the waves all of a sudden go like from 20 feet high down to 10 feet high then down to 5 feet high, and over a course of few hours after that everything gradually settled down. That’s not what happened at all. The calming of the see was not gradual. It was spontaneous, Instantaneous.
Now as soon as the sea is calmed and the threat of the nature is removed you would expect at that moment the disciples to throw their jackets to the air saying ‘thank you Jesus, you are awesome, this is the best miracle you have done’. But the Bible says now they became very much afraid. They said to one another, “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” What is the source of the intensity of their new fear? It was Jesus. V41 says, they were filled with great fear. They were blasted with a Mega fear. Now they are more frightened than they were of the storm. What is this fear suddenly they have towards Jesus?
Yes, human beings are afraid of tornado, tsunamis, floods, fires, illnesses, and cancers… but, in the heart of every creature made in the image of God, there is a terror far greater than all of these things because there is a threat far greater to them than any storm can deliver. It is the threat of falling in to the hands of living God. Why? Because He is Holy and we are not. This must be the response of sinful people when we encounter the living God. Jesus is not our buddy. He is the incarnate almighty God in His full glory. Now there greatest fear was not the storm, but the one who calm the storm. They are reaching to a new level of understanding who the Jesus truly is.
Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
That is not simply a question for the disciples that day; that is the most important question of your life today. He is the radiance of the glory of God, and exact imprint of His nature. He upholds the universe by the word of His power. He is the way, truth and the life and no one come to the father except through Him. He is the one who was made to be sin, who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. He is our advocate with the father. He has taken the full wrath of God against our sin on the cross so the wrath of God against us be turn in to the favor of God towards us when we place our faith in Him. He is the one who has defeated the sin, death and Satan forever. He is the one, who one day will come to judge the living and the dead.
Does He frighten you? He should! Do you realize your need to be rescued from the eternal storm from which we cannot save ourselves? Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). You should call to Him before it’s too late.
Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Kevin Weeks (Harvest Bible Chapel)