MAIN TEXT: MARK 4:35-41
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 has set out to explain to his readers that Jesus is God, the Messiah, in his gospel. He wrote to the Romans to show them who Jesus was and what Jesus did. Helping his audience understand that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man was a daunting task. However, the recounting of the events we read today are a great help to Mark in this endeavor.
The Gospel of Mark is a short, fast-paced telling of Jesus’ life. He generally skips a lot of details to get to the point quickly. However, in the recounting of this moment, we get more details from Mark than either Luke 8:22-25 or Matthew 23-27. Scholars believe that this is due to Mark receiving this recollection directly from his mentor, Peter. Who of course was an eyewitness to the event and would have been one of the terrified disciples in the boat during the storm that night.
We pick up in our text where Jesus has been sitting in a boat, teaching the crowd that is seated all around the shores and banks on the Sea of Galilee. He was teaching them in parables, and helping his disciples and close followers to understand the meaning of these parables.
God is Working in the Circumstance of Our Lives (v.35-37)
Jesus has had a full day of teaching. He makes a suggestion to cross the sea to the other side and His disciples follow His command. They are headed to “the country of Gerasenes” (Mark 5:1).
All of sudden, a “great windstorm” arose. This is unusual for this time of day on the Sea of Galilee. The worst winds generally occurred during the day, so most fisherman would fish at evening and night when it was most calm. This is more than likely a large part of the reason for fear among the disciples.
This was an unusual storm. Jesus didn’t seem to be worried. In fact, He was sound asleep. This storm didn’t catch Jesus off guard. He had led them into the storm to once again teach them and show them His glory.
Jesus is Human Aside from Sin (v.38)
Jesus is laying in the boat, asleep on a cushion. The storm is so bad that the waves are crashing into the boat, and the boat is filling with water. Jesus is going to take this moment to show His disciples that He is both God and man. (2 Corinthians 5:21 & Hebrews 4:15)
In this very moment, we are able to see Jesus’ deity and humanity. His humanity is clearly shown in the fact that he is tired and has fallen asleep on a pillow. In the Bible, we see many moments of His humanity on display. Jesus gets hungry (Matthew 4:2). He gets angry (Mark 3:5). He cries (John 11:35) and He dies (the cross). He’s had an exhausting day of teaching and now He is tired. Interestingly, this is the only moment we read of Jesus sleeping. His disciples aren’t too impressed at the moment. They seem pretty stressed out over the whole thing. In fact, their response is of fear and frustration.
We Panic When We Lose Faith in the One We Should Trust (v.38)
The reaction by the disciples we see here is a normal human instinct when we can’t control the situation. They wake up Jesus in a panic. They address Him with honor by calling Him Teacher and then pretty much chew Him out for sleeping while they are going to die. “Don’t you care about us? We might die!” Instead of responding in faith that Jesus has it all under control, they lash out in a rude outburst all about themselves.
As we read this, it should cause us to reflect on how many times we have done the same. We see ourselves in the disciples and their actions. Jesus has been faithful time and time again, yet when life gets stormy and pressure filled, we tend to get frustrated and fearful.
Jesus Has Authority over Nature Because He Is God (v.39)
Finally, out of their frustration and fear, they call on Jesus and He responds. It is difficult to know what they were expecting from Him. They’ve seen Him perform miracles, heal broken bodies, and cast out demons. Of all the miracles that He has done, none of them was to deliver them from danger or death.
Jesus gets up from the cushion He was sleeping on. He rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The wind is stopped instantly. The sea is stopped instantly.
In these short, direct few words, Jesus shows His divinity. The King of glory, who created heaven and earth, who was master over nature, who would later curse a fig tree and make it whither (Mark 11), gave the command to the weather and water and was instantly obeyed. He created it in the very beginning. He will restore this broken world again. And at this very moment, He shows His power over creation and orders it be calm and it was calm. The weather and the water go completely calm. His disciples go in quite the opposite direction.
Trials and Difficulties Come for the Benefit of Our Faith (v.40)
Everything was calm now, except the disciples. They remain fearful, but not because of the weather and waves, instead because of the man in the boat, Jesus.
Jesus goes from calming the storm around them to calming the storm within them. He rebukes them for not trusting. They have seen His glory on display so many times before, yet they panicked and let their emotions get the best of them. In the midst of the storm, instead of trusting Jesus, they accuse Him of not caring about them. This won’t be the last time Jesus must discuss with them their lack of faith. They will struggle understanding the power in His life and death until they see Him resurrected. They don’t see the full picture.
We don’t have the same excuse. We see who Jesus is. That He is eternal. That He created all things in the beginning and will restore all things back to the way it was to be in the end. That He lived, died and rose again so we could be free of our sin. We can trust in Him no matter what. We know storms will come in many different ways in life to strengthen our faith.
The Identity of Jesus Is an Issue We All Must Settle (v. 41)
“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Just as the disciples asked this question, so must we. It says that “they were filled with a great fear.” This fear the disciples were filled with is far worse than the fear they had concerning the storm. This feeling of terror and panic is a common reaction to God’s glory revealed. When Peter recognizes Jesus as God (in a boat catching fish), he drops to His knees and says, “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.” All through Scripture, it is the same response; Abraham, Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the apostle John, to name a few.
It is because when you can see God, in all His splendor and glory, you recognize how sinful you are and how holy He is. And at that moment, the only logical response is to beg for mercy for our sin. This fear should cause us to recognize that only God, Himself, is able to rescue us from our sin. So, we do the only thing we can, we put our trust in Jesus Christ because He is God
Who is Jesus? He is God!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 4: 35-41
How should the disciples have reacted to the fact that the Son of God was sleeping soundly in their boat during the storm? How does this help us as we face our own mortality?
Is it possible to show genuine respect (by calling Him “Teacher”) and disrespect (by accusing Him of indifference) at the same time? Can you think of a time when you questioned God’s love or justice?
Does something you have read in the Gospels make you stop and say, “who then is this?” What about Christ amazes you the most?
How is the lesson “Jesus calms the storms of your life” an inadequate inerpretation of this episode? What is the greater lesson?