Jesus Calms the Storm Mark 4:35-40, Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Evening came and being among the crowds all day, we all are weary. We welcome Jesus' suggestion of moving out to the boats to escape the masses and find rest. As he jumps into the boat heading straight for the stern, he directs, "Let's go over to the other side." We quickly maneuvered the vessel off the sandy shore, so that it had some buoyancy yet still shallow for everyone to climb in without getting too wet. Being a fisherman since youth, working the oars came easily to me, so I took up one of the paddles. Others who set up camp and provide provision for us also hopped into their nearby vessels. Looking forward to a campfire and a warm meal, motivated us to paddle out in haste with no one taking too much thought to the darkened clouds billowing in the distance. My thoughts whirled around all the miracle healings that took place throughout the day, and marveling at the restored lives from illnesses or injuries. The happiest moment had to be watching a deaf mother discover the sound of her child's voice for the first time or when the young blind girl got to see her dog that she clutched. The animal was held close to her for he was her eyes through life.
Remembering the tears of joy and laughter that spilled from the crowd as well as the intense teaching of parables that held the mystery of deeper messages, I didn't notice the white crests foaming on the waves until the boat started to slap down hard. The snapping and popping sails stuck in an indecisive manner as the winds came in from one direction and then suddenly from another like a battle of wills. The skies darken quickly and pelting rain falls. Frantically trying to stabilize the vessel from the tossing, the other seasoned fisherman worked deftly to get the sails wrapped around the mast with the cording. Waves broke over our boat cascading water into the hull and around our feet chilling us. Flashes of the lightning illuminate our predicament. Upon a cushion in the stern of the boat lay Jesus, exhausted and sleeping soundly although jostled, not bothered. We were doing all we can not to be swept out of the boat as swells of waves loom up over and engulf us into the folds like we are being swallowed! Yet somehow, we would pop back out of its clutches only to repeat the process.
Lurching toward the stern with all my strength and grasping something secure as I move along, I make way to the Master. Intermittently, I have to wait out for drops from a crest to make another move of just a few feet. Finally reaching out to Jesus, I frantically shake him awake. I yell over the howls of the wind, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
Jesus sits up looking a bit bothered that his rest is being interrupted and then stands in the boat with his arms raised to the heavens! The raging waters confront him in defiance, and he just speaks, "Quiet! Be still!"
Immediately, as if the wind held its breath, the tempest stopped. The whirling clouds dissipate and lighten in color moving away to allow the rays of sun to beam through sending darkness fleeing. The waves rock our boat along with the other vessels which are now in view into a lulling and gentle sway of calmness. But most remarkably was the sudden silence from the chaotic roar just minutes before. Looking into the frightened eyes of each one of the disciples and mine included, Jesus states plainly, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
Terrified, for we confronted the truth that only God can control nature and this was no mere prophet. We all turned to one another with the same question, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
Jesus had been touching people all day with physical healing, but at this moment, we were all touched spiritually by the awesome and fearful command of God. Our faith had sight!
Questions for Reflection:
The majority would agree that the most common concern we have with God is trusting that he cares for you and not "asleep" or "ignoring" or "unaware" regarding your concerns. What can we do to remind ourselves that this perspective is far from reality and the truth?
Sometimes storms in life just suddenly come upon us without warning. Perhaps it is an illness, an accident, a death, a job loss, an argument, abuse or knowledge of a loved one's addiction. We feel swamped with waves of adversity, and it seems impossible to see the storm ending well. How do you feel this account can help encourage you?
Do you feel there is hope in "situations that are impossible to improve" outside of faith in God?
This account reminds us like a word picture of looking to God to deliver us from terrible storms that suddenly come upon us in our own lives. Interestingly, it includes Jesus sleeping and perceived by the disciples as "not concerned" when all along He knew that a great lesson of encouragement in faith in Him was about to be given. The most impacting lesson to learn is that God is all powerful even unto nature and that we can go to him for deliverance out of the worst of events.
This vignette is not to be missed for it is written in three of the Gospels: Mark, Matthew and Luke. It is almost verbatim in the recordings. Interestingly, we see "worry-fear" juxtaposed to "rest". Although seasoned fisherman were in the boat, they all were panicking over the loss of control of the boat and the fear of drowning while Jesus was completely at rest to the point that he slept. Corrie Ten Boom, (A Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust of WWII) once said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.” Jesus was at rest for He knew nothing is impossible for Him. We too must have faith in God through impossible situations that we won't drown. He told the disciples, "Let's go over to the other side." Jesus still desires to bring us to the "other side" of ourselves where we are strengthened in our faith to look to Him for guidance, refuge, peace and deliverance. How would we know we truly trust God except in learning first hand with overwhelming problems that raise fear and anxiety within us and then finding His deliverance into peace. We reach a deeper level of friendship when we trust someone, and God desires to have that richer relationship with you. A relationship that "rests" in another's love and care similar to children trusting a parent or a wife trusting her husband.
John Courson, Pastor of Applegate Fellowship in Oregon and author of Searchlight, wrote "When the warm moist air of our expectations collide with the icy cold of God's silence, inevitably clouds of doubt begin to form." Sometime we feel God is silent to our needs and care of our well-being, but we must be patient with faith for the answer we expect may not include a "no". Some are not willing to wait for the amazing blessing or to witness the answered prayer that will exceed their expectations for they want what they think is the best answer. Doubt in God or his faithfulness weakens faith and fear and anxiety increases. We must remember that God is good (Psalm 73:1) and God is love (1 John 4:16). If we truly understand this, then we can "rest" in all that comes our way for He has a plan for us that is filled with love and it is good.
The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long, 7 miles wide and 150 feet deep. Because it is surrounded by hills, winds can curve down and up in different directions which can create intense, violent storms of 20 foot waves. Josephus, a famous historian, states that any given day there were about 300 boats on the sea. The disciples, Jesus along with some others were headed to the southeast of the Sea of Galilee to city of Gadara, region of the Gerasenes. This body of water was stirred by a raging tempest that scared even these expert fisherman. Jesus' reaction to their fear was "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" The disciples had spent the entire day observing miracles and hearing parables like having faith as a mustard seed which can grow to impossible heights or "knock the door to God" in prayer and it shall be opened to you, and yet when placed in a situation that caused fear, they lost faith. Jesus wanted to build in these men a foundation of faith that would not crack. He allows us to endure storms, so we too can develop strong faith that will lead us into Heaven.
In addition, there is no testimony of His grace and deliverance without a test. That is not to say that He brought the storm, but He allows it to birth new roots of faith that will ground you well.
It is important not to focus on the storm or ourselves and our feelings, but to keep our focus on Jesus who will do an amazing work with the havoc that will remind us of the magnitude and greatness of the God we serve.
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word
Read the account as it is recorded in the Bible: