JESUS CALMS THE STORM
Key Verse 4:40
“He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”
As we studied last Sunday in Mark’s gospel, through the parables stated in chapter 4, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of considering the word of God with a right attitude. Jesus taught them that the secrets of the kingdom of God are contained in the word of God, which they must search out. After Jesus had finished teaching the crowds in parables, and explaining these parables to his disciples, Jesus then had something else in store for his disciples. He planned to teach them one of the greatest secrets of the kingdom of God. He planned to teach them the faith by which they could overcome the world. But in order to teach them faith, Jesus had to lead them into a situation through which they could learn faith. Jesus led them to a storm at sea. It was there that his disciples despaired even of life; it was there that they also realized the extent of their own fears; and it was there that they learned something about how to challenge the storms of life. Storms in our lives cannot be challenged and overcome with human strength. They must be dealt with faith alone. These disciples learned something else as well— that where Jesus is, there is no reason to fear because our Jesus is greater than any storm. All of us will surely go through many storms in our lives. Some will be minor storms while others will be major storms. For this reason, Jesus wanted his disciples to experience the storm to learn the faith that overcomes the storm and the faith that can endure the storm. It’s therefore so important to hear Jesus’ voice in our hearts, especially his words: “Why are you so afraid?” It is his word that drives out every fear in our hearts and plants the faith that overcomes the storms of life. God bless you.
Let’s read verse 35. “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’” The day Mark is talking about is the same day in which Jesus taught the crowds one parable after another in the hopes that they might learn even one secret of the kingdom of God. Most certainly, it had been a very long and tiring day, both for Jesus and for the disciples. For a whole day, Jesus had given one Bible study after another to the crowds. After that, Jesus spent a long time explaining the parables to his eager learning disciples. Perhaps this had been a typical day in the life of Jesus and his disciples. Still, they were all exhausted to say the least. He had come to preach the gospel at any cost, and physical exhaustion was a small price to pay for the redemption of souls from the power of sin and death. But how the disciples might have felt about a typical day of work without rest is quite different. Occasionally, they probably felt that life with Jesus was simply too demanding with no rest in sight. At times they also might have felt that serving Jesus’ ministry was draining them of life itself. Therefore, it is likely that while they served the crowds, their minds were somewhere else, and their hearts hoped for a time of peace and quiet. But surprisingly, while the disciples’ concept of peace rested entirely on the human theory, Jesus’ concept of peace rested on the spiritual. In other words, while they were thinking about a time to rest, Jesus was thinking about how he might lead them to the place where their souls could rest. Jesus was thinking like this, because a person can find no peace nor rest for their soul, even on “paradise island”, as long as their heart is filled with the troubles of this world. To rid the heart from such things, a person will need faith. And to grow in this faith, a person will need to walk with Jesus through the storms of life and completely trust God in all things. For this reason Jesus had a plan. He planned to expose his disciples to a storm.
Most people think that a “storm of life”, any “storm” is a misfortune or hardship that just happens on occasion, because “that’s life”. But from the Bible’s point of view, there is no such thing as luck. Nothing happens without the knowledge of God and his seal of approval. There is no hardship or suffering or any such “storm of life” that is accidental, especially for the child of God. Amazingly, Jesus led his disciples right into the storm, because he wanted to deepen their faith and to equip them to serve the work of God better. Now let us see how the disciples handled the storm they were about to face.
Let’s read verse 36. “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.” It is interesting how quick these disciples were in setting off for a supposed time of rest with Jesus. They hoped for a time of rest. Maybe Bartholomew said, “Yes were going on a boat trip on Lake Galilee!” Maybe Thaddaeus said, “I got shotgun.” But as we said, things did not go exactly as they had expected. Let’s read verse 37. “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” A storm like this one was not unexpected. It is a characteristic of Lake Galilee to have storms that happen suddenly and unexpectedly. But this particular storm was something these disciples and fishermen had never seen nor experienced before. This one was beyond their experience and expertise.
Many skilled human beings feel that there is nothing in life that they cannot cope with. But like the storms on Lake Galilee, there are also many storms of life which are beyond a person’s experience and ability to cope with. While little storms may not cause them to fear, what will they do when the big storms of life rise up out of nowhere? Life is full of storms for the Christian and for the non-Christian as well. Every storm is different from the other. While people may be able to cope with one storm, they most certainly will not be able to cope with the other. What will they do when such storms arise? The disciples felt that they were experienced fishermen, who had weathered many storms. For this reason they felt prepared to ride this storm. For this reason they did not feel like they needed to call on Jesus from the start. For this reason they allowed the storm to intensify until they came face to face with their human limitations. Was it necessary to wait until they were about to drown before coming to Jesus? No. But human nature is like this! Pride and self confidence compels a person to brave life and its storms all alone, with the thinking that there is nothing that they cannot handle. Of all the storms of life that people can or cannot handle, there are storms that are absolutely beyond a person’s ability to handle. At this moment, what did the disciples do?
Let’s read verse 38b. “The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’” Tragically fear had so corrupted their minds that they were ready to believe that Jesus did not care whether they lived or died. This, for the most part, is sinful thinking. A sinful mind looks at tragic situations not as God given opportunities to grow in faith or to draw near to God but the sinful mind looks at suffering and hardship as opportunities to blame God or opportunities to have one’s own doubts about God. And that’s the kind of thinking the devil wants us to have. We don’t always understand why tragedies happen in life. But tragic situations are clearly opportunities to grow closer to Christ, to grow in faith and to learn about the love of God.
So while this storm was raging at sea, who was in the boat with the disciples? Jesus was there with them in the boat. God Almighty was there with them in the boat. Clearly Jesus loved them more than his own life. Clearly he was preparing them to be the stewards for the work of God. They had Jesus with them in the boat, as all Christians do. But they could not see Jesus. They could only see the storm of life. They focused only on the storm until they could not believe the truth of God which promises to sustain them even through the hardships of life.
When Jesus heard their unreasonable words of despair and fatalism, which came from a sinful mind rather than a spiritual mind, what did he do? Let’s read verse 39. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Jesus helped them to see the spiritual reality. He showed them that he is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and certainly the Lord over the storm and all storms of life. Jesus showed them that no matter what storm one is going through, the word of God can bring stillness and peace in the place of the storm. He showed them that his word was enough to calm the raging storm. He showed them that his word can calm the storm of life. Later on in life, the disciples would suffer from other storms and it was Jesus’ words that replaced the fear in their hearts with the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding.
Then Jesus said to them in verse 40. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Let’s read 40 together. “He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” Jesus’ words convict the heart so deeply. “Why are you so afraid?” It is a question that deeply touches the core of the heart. Indeed, while Jesus is there with them, why are they so afraid? Jesus reminded them that there is no need for fear at all. There is in fact no room for fear as long as Jesus is with them in the boat of life. This is the truth. This is the spiritual reality. This is the truth we must believe and hold on to.
There are those who wonder why they are so afraid. There are also those who want to have faith. But Jesus says to them: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?.” Every Christian needs to answer these questions. For this reason, we need to consider and reconsider Jesus’ words: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? “ It is not that his disciples had no faith. They simply let unreasonable fear take hold of them. As for us, we must know that while the storms of life will surely come time and again, we must also know that as long as Jesus is with us in the boat of life, there is no reason to fear. And we need to know that Jesus is greater than any storm of life. May God help us to have his peace in our hearts knowing our lives and future are in God’s hand and his love for us will never change, storm or no storm. God does not abandon us in our weaknesses. He patiently strengthens us in faith until we can overcome every storm of life. Let’s read our key verse 40.