Looking at Mark 4 today, specifically the story of Jesus calming the storm.
If you don’t know this story, then here it is. It is the story of Jesus and his disciples getting into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee when a great storm comes upon them. 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. They took him just as he was…Jesus had been teaching the people all day from the boat, so they left without returning to shore, heading for the other side where He would heal a demon possessed man who had been living in the graveyards. They wind up in a great storm, which is not unusual for the Sea of Galilee due to the presence of the mountains and the up and down currents of the winds there. This storm must have been particularly powerful to have frightened these experienced fisherman.
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?” The disciples may have been afraid, but apparently Jesus was not concerned. He was in the back, sleeping like a baby. Sleeping like he was unaware they were all about to die!!
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?”” So Jesus wakes up, and calmly commands the storm to stop. To which, the storm listens, the wind ceased, and all was calm. And Jesus then does something that, maybe, seems a little strange, maybe even unfair. It seems as though he rebuked his disciples here – “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Is it just me, or does it seem like Jesus is a little irritated or impatient here? Why does he rebuke them? Their boat was about to sink, was it not? I would think that would be the perfect time to cry out to Jesus to save them! What else were they supposed to do? Didn’t the fact that they cried out in their panic, in their time of desperate need, show that they DID have faith?
So here is my take here. Mark says they went to Jesus and cried out Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Matthew’s account of this event says “And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”” Matthew 8:25 ESV. The disciples were terrified. They were panicked. This is why Jesus asks them “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Maybe the correct response for the disciples would have been to, calmly, wake Jesus and just say “Hey, we need you to calm this storm Jesus.” And just expect that it will be done. Because, what else were the disciples to do but to go to the Son of God in their time of need and ask for salvation?
They were rebuked because of their fear. Because if we are trusting in the Lord, we should not have fear. These disciples are a little like us today. We are freaking out in the world right now, are we not? We have issues. We have North Korea, The Donald, and nuclear weapons all around. Not a good combination. We have Russian investigation, hurricanes that keep coming, scientists are telling us the earth is boiling. We have to do something, don’t we??!!
The question is, do we trust God or not? If we say we have faith in God, then at some point we have to trust God. We do all that we can responsibly do, but that still won’t calm the fear in you heart, the anxieties that keep you up at night.
Think about this – every time a human being kills another human being, whatever good reasons there may be, it comes down to not trusting God. If you have a gun pointing at me, and I can kill you before you kill me, I can only obey Jesus’ command to love my enemies if I’m trusting in God. There’s no other way. Because if I die, I die. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of me. Do I believe that or do I not? Our money has the inscription “In God we Trust.” But, really, should it not say “In guns we trust”? Because do we not trust FAR more in our guns than in our God? When we take matters into our own hands because we are not trusting, and we act out of fear, we almost always turn to violence.
What exactly are we trusting God for? We are not trusting Him to get us out of our situation. That’s not the point. We are trusting that if this happens, and I die, I’m ok with that. I’m trusting that God is going to work this out for good, make the best of this situation, and work it out ultimately for good. Because I believe in life after death, I believe in the resurrection of the dead. So, if you kill me…then what? You got nothing else…
The hope of the New Testament is always directed to that ultimate future. We are not trusting God for a new car, or to pay the bills, or to buy a bigger house. That is not our hope. For believing Christians, the worst case scenario is not a bad scenario. Christian leaders tell us to trust in God, but they don’t tell us what we are trusting for. So, we think that God is supposed to get us out this our out of that. But if he does, or if he doesn’t, either way that day is going to come. It may seem dark, but we will all die eventually. And if not, scientists tell us the universe is decaying, how are you getting out of that one? What are you trusting God for? He may not, he will not, get us out of every bad situation, but we trust that there is a good situation he’s getting us into, no matter what happens.
The New Testament says the here and now is a war zone. Bad things can happen. We might get fed to the lions or be burned at the stake. But we trust in the character of God, who will ultimately win in the end.
So they can kill us now, but so what???
“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 ESV