Just before Jesus calms the storm there are four parables that all describe what the kingdom of God is like. We have the parable of the sower, a lamp under a basket, the seed growing, and the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus taught in parables a lot, using examples from his hearers’ lives to relate what God’s kingdom was like. There is a powerful transition from these four parables to reality in verses 35-41. To many times we can read the Bible and miss important nuggets or pass over a passage and say to ourselves, “Okay then Jesus calmed the storm.” I have to continually remind myself of what I am reading. In John 6:68 many disciples turned their backs on Jesus. Jesus asked his core group of 12 if they wanted to leave him as well. Peter responded with, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
We have the words of eternal life in our hands. Instead of a flippant, “Okay, then Jesus calmed the storm,” I challenge us to read it a little differently, “OKAY, THEN JESUS CALMED THE STORM.” Look at this passage as if you haven’t read it a hundred times or heard it before. Imagine that you have never read the book of Mark.
Up to Mark 4:34 Jesus teaches with parables illustrating the kingdom of God. As a reader of the Bible for the first time you assume Mark will continue Jesus’ teaching in parables...but there is a drastic transition!
Read Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm!
Jesus transitions from teaching about the kingdom of God to revealing the kingdom of God and that kingdom’s King.
The majority of our time this morning will be spent on these 6 versus.
Mark 4:35- That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
Did you catch that? Jesus was the reason they ended up in a life threatening storm. If you ever needed perspective on God’s purpose for a terrible situation remember this story; Jesus was the reason they ended up in a storm! Often times we face storms that we have created for ourselves. You lied to your boss about how long of a lunch you took, you chose to “sleep in” instead of going to an unwanted family reunion, or you didn’t budget your money to pay for all of your monthly bills. Those are our storms that we bring upon ourselves. But how many of us have ended up in a storm that Jesus led us to?
This reminds me of another situation found in Matthew chapter 4:1 where Jesus is tempted by the devil. It says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Have you ever considered that it was God who brought you to a bad situation? Pastor Carl has been preaching out of Job for the past month and I think it is safe to say that no one knows this truth better than Job. Just like Job, the disciples were brought by God to a terrible life threatening storm that served a good purpose.
Look at the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus says, “Let us go over to the other side,” and they did it. Sometimes we know Jesus is calling us to a place that we refuse to go. Here’s an example… A couple of months ago the phone was ringing. Kizzy and I often play the “not it” game when the phone rings. Not that we don’t want to talk to you wonderful people… its more we don’t want to leave our warm, comfortable, lazy chairs! Luckily for me I said it first and won; that meant it was her turn. From my end of the conversations I heard her say, “I’m doing great, thanks for asking. How are you today?” Of course I thought it was an old friend or her brother or someone she knew. When she got off of the phone she had a huge smile on her face. To make a long, LONG conversation short it was a telemarketer. When she asked him how he was doing he took a long pause and said, “I’m doing great. Thank you for asking about me. No one has ever done that before.” He never got to his shpeal about what he was selling. Instead he asked her if she was a Christian, which led to him asking her to pray for him and his girlfriend over the phone. Now, when Kizzy picked up the phone she could have politely said no thank you to the telemarketer. She could have been short with the telemarketer. And I know she has even hung-up on telemarketers before. But because she made a choice to be friendly, God used her in that young man’s life. And while we don’t always want to go there with people, especially strangers calling us at all hours trying to sell us unwanted stuff, God does tell us to love our neighbors as ourselves! That day Kizzy went where God had called her, just like the disciples did when Jesus called them to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
Mark 4:36- Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
Leaving the crowd behind. Jesus orders his disciples to go to the other side and the disciples obey him. You don’t hear Peter saying, “what about all these people, we can’t just leave them behind! Let’s set up some tents, we’ll have a revival, some music, you can do the bread and fish thing it’ll be HUGE.” Or, “Um Lord, it’s dark out, wouldn’t it be safer to wait till day light?” I wonder how many preachers would turn away from a huge crowd for a storm.
Mark 4:37- “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.”
This is really strange to me, almost humorous, “A FURIOUS squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” How can Jesus be sleeping on a cushion in the middle of a furious storm? What a contrast we see with the enraged storm and calm Jesus.
Second half of Mark 4:38- “The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
The disciples woke him. They either thought he could do something about their situation or wanted him to join them in their fear.
Mark 4:39- “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet, Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
This is a miracle of Biblical proportions! Ha. Jesus calms the storm with words. Almost as miraculous as calming the storm is Jesus’ response to his questioning disciples. Think about the fact that the disciples questioned Jesus’ care for them, “Jesus don’t you care if we drown?” With what they had seen Jesus do up to this point how could they question his care for them? How human of them. How often do we question Jesus? God, do you know what you’re doing because I wouldn’t do it this way… Instead of rebuking the disciples, Jesus rebukes the waves. How often do we council people to find the solution to a problem they’re facing within themselves? Job’s friends did it; they told him to repent of his sins to solve his problems. Jesus could have turned to his disciples and rebuked them for not believing everything he had been teaching them about God’s kingdom, then made them wait out the storm. He could have preached a 5 part sermon so the disciples could understand who he was and why they shouldn’t fear. Instead he eliminates the problem.
Mark 4:40- He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Mark 4:41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Jesus turns to his disciples and gives them the formula for overcoming fear; faith! Then the disciples’ fear turns from the storm to Jesus. Jesus speaks to the violent storm and it becomes calm, he speaks to his disciples and they become agitated. The disciples go from questioning Jesus’ care for them to questioning who he was.
Jesus led them to this storm for a purpose. He had been teaching about the kingdom of God and now he was showing them the kingdom of God. Understand how the biblical audience would have received this message. In a world where food depended upon the weather and a good crop, a world where most were peasant farmers living hand to mouth, Jesus displays power over the natural. Jesus cares for his people and he has the power to do something about it. Faith is the key to overcoming fear. In Jesus the kingdom of God has come, and this kingdom has authority over all. King Jesus offers hope when all seems hopeless.
Jesus never leads us into danger without it serving an immense purpose. For the disciples Jesus revealed the kingdom of God, his care and concern, and his power to change the seemingly impossible.
We should live in fear as Christians but not from worldly attacks and storms but fear of God. Matthew 10:28- “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Don’t fear as the world does for though our lives are taken from us we have an assurance and hope that Christ will raise us from the dead! Jesus died and rose from the dead to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). If we ever get fearful, faith in God’s promises is the antidote. The more you claim God’s promises the less claim fear has on you.
Faith in King Jesus overcomes any fear that we may have, even the fear of all fears; death. When that day comes and our fight is over we can boldly come to the throne and proclaim we’ve been forgiven, proclaim the resurrection of Christ, and proclaim a sinner saved. All storms in this life fail in comparison to death’s storm but if we’ve been set free from the fear of death we can laugh at whatever squall comes our way, especially if we know that God has led us into it. God’s storms serve to create in you something that will last forever; the Kingdom of God.