We are living in uncertain times. Today more than any other time in our lives we have seen store shelves emptied for fear that people will run out of food. When we first heard that toilet paper was going quickly, there was a mad rush to get all that we could get and it didn’t matter if we would end up taking more than we need.
Are there any other storms in your life that you’ve faced? Were they as uncertain as our times today? How was your faith during those trying days?
From 1347-1350 A.D., the Black Plague–otherwise known as the Bubonic Plague–swept out of China or India to the Crimea and thence into Europe as far as Iceland. This particular plague killed one-fourth of the population of Europe.
Martin Luther, the famed reformer in the 16th Century, wrote to Dr. John Hess in a letter entitled Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague, these words: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help, purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
Read Mark 4:35-41:
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?”
“God, don’t you care about us?” 4:35-38
Have you ever asked that question?
“God, don’t you care about me? Aren’t you at all concerned with what I am facing at this point in my life?
We can’t look at the disciples and judge them too quickly for their questioning Jesus; after all, He was asleep in the back of the boat! And if we’re honest about ourselves, there have been times that we have felt distant from Jesus even though we know in our minds that He is ever-present with us.
This is the Sea of Galilee. They are gong from one side of the sea to the other. Scripture says there were other boats traveling with them. Most boats on the Sea of Galilee are not very large even to this day, but this one must have been large enough to carry all of them. All of a sudden a storm arose.
As small as the Sea of Galilee may be, it can be a fierce place to be when on a boat. Such storms result from differences in temperatures between the seacoast and the mountains beyond. The Sea lies 680 feet below sea level. It is bounded by hills, especially on the east side where they reach 2000 feet high. These heights are a source of cool, dry air. In contrast, directly around the Sea, the climate is semi-tropical and the Sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills. The Sea of Galilee again is small, and these winds may descend directly to the center of the lake with violent results. When the contrasting air masses meet, a storm can arise quickly and without warning. Small boats on the sea are in immediate danger. The Sea is relatively shallow, just 200 feet at its greatest depth. A shallow lake is whipped up by wind more rapidly than deep water, where energy is more readily absorbed.
And what of Jesus? He’s sound asleep on a cushion in the stern! This should have just been about “a three-hour tour, but the tiny ship was tossed” and it was filling up with water rapidly.
Now in the midst of the storm, do you ever feel like Jesus is slumbering? Do you ever feel like He’s not around in the midst of the storm?
This is exactly how the disciples felt when they asked, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” In other words, “Are you willing to just let us perish with the storms in our lives?” The disciples woke Jesus in the stern of the boat.
“Don’t you trust Me?” 4:39, 40
Jesus Christ quickly responds by rebuking the wind and hushed the Sea. The idea of rebuking here means that Jesus gave a stern warning to the wind. Then Jesus silenced the sea, He put a muzzle on the sea and kept it there when He said, “Hush, be still.” Now I don’t know if Jesus Christ spoke loudly to the wind and the sea, but I tend to think that He said these words quietly–calmly. I think that He simply did this to show the power of God in such a way that the disciples would believe Him to be the Son of the Living God.
Verse 39 continues that the wind died down. The word in the Greek text for died down means that the wind grew weary; it was tired of blowing and ceased to cause such a stir! And then something extraordinary happened: it became perfectly calm. It means that the sea became perfectly serene–smooth as glass! All of this happened in a moment, a quick moment, a fraction of a moment in time.
Now in the midst of the storms in life, do you ever want Jesus to recognize the trouble in which you find yourself? Do you want Him to rebuke the winds and calm the seas of life–the troubles, fears, doubts and regrets that you face?
Notice how Jesus Christ cares for His disciples. He calms the wind and the waves. They see Him speak, “Hush, be still.” He doesn’t just intend these words for the wind and the Sea. He intends for His disciples to hush, and be still. He desires for them not to have a troubled heart in the midst of the storms of life. And in the same way He speaks to His disciples He is speaking to us today:
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. John 14:1
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Jesus cares for His people and wants them to be still in Him just like the wind and the sea are in Him. And this is why He asks His disciples this heart-wrenching question: “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” He cuts to the quick! For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)
The word used for “afraid” is not the standard phobos in the Greek, from whence we get the word phobia. Rather, the word used is deilos which means to be cowardly, timid, fearful, without courage. He cuts to the chase and asks His disciples who have seen His power through miracles, signs and wonders, “How is it that you have no faith?”
How is it that you struggle with relying on Jesus? How can you go through life without dependence upon Jesus in every storm that you weather? How do you think that you can live without believing Jesus?
“Who is this Jesus?” 4:41
They asked this question because they were very much afraid at this point. They are not only cowardly, but now they are greatly afraid of the situation they’ve just experienced.
How is it that the wind and the seas obey Jesus? How is it that He can control the elements? Who is this Jesus?
Consider what the Bible says about this Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6
For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
He existed in the form of God, but did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Philippians 2:6
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16
This is who Jesus Christ is! He is Lord and Savior to His people! He is Lord and Savior to those who believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead! He is Lord and Savior to those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord!
If He can handle the wind and the seas, He can certainly handle the storms in our lives today!