Strength and Weakness
Every person can learn more about Jesus by noticing his actions in this passage.
The house where my parents live has a Michigan basement. It is a dirt floor and it has rocks for the walls. Even as I talk about it I can sense the smell of that basement. It was a dark and smelly place. It was not the kind of place where anyone would like to spend a lot of time. Sometimes mom would keep canned goods down there. It was the place where the pump that brought water into the house was. When the weather was threatening, it was a place for us to hide.
As a youngster I had a recurring nightmare. There was a dark stranger in our house and he was trying to get me. Through the process of this dream we would always go to the basement at some point. I don’t remember the stranger ever getting me, but every time I had that dream it was a startling experience.
What are the things you have been afraid of in your life? Maybe you had a nightmare in your life, or maybe you have some fears that are more real. In this passage the disciples are afraid. They are a group of men who have spent much of their time on the sea, and yet this storm is something that frightens them. Through this experience they learn much about Jesus.
Action I. Jesus left
A. If all that Jesus wanted to do was to gather a crowd he really seems to go about it in a wrong way. Every time Jesus has a crowd gathered around him he seems to do something to get away from them. Last week Jesus left Simon’s house early in the morning to pray and ended up escaping from the crowd. In this passage it says in v. 36 that he left the crowd behind. He had been preaching to the crowd from a boat. Rather than moving to the shore and walking to his next destination he asks the captain of the vessel to take him across the lake. By doing this he would be able to avoid any further interaction with the crowd. Jesus ends up going to a new place.
B. Jesus was only doing his preaching and healing that we read about for roughly three years. So I would guess that he was trying to cover as much ground as possible in those three years as he could. Once he had a chance to influence a crowd in one place he would move on to another place. At the other place he would influence another group of people. He was probably working on spreading his message as far as he could in a short amount of time.
C. There are probably people here who have had problems with other churches starting near us. I would guess that there is some underlying fear that this church will close if we have too many other churches in the area. When we develop this idea we then worry only about preserving our church and our place on this corner. Jesus spread his message far and wide during his ministry. We need to work to do the same, and we need to encourage other churches to do the same as well. Probably another other church that moves into our area will reach out to a different group than we are reaching out to.
Action II. Jesus slept
A. This is the only account in the Bible where we are told that Jesus slept. There are a few things we can learn from this statement. For one thing, look at the details that are included in this passage. People like Mark did not write these things down as they were happening. Instead, they waited many years before they wrote these things down. So the detail that Mark uses makes me believe that this was an eyewitness account of this event. It also gives a picture of the humanity of Jesus. Jesus was tired. He had probably been around people all day long. He had probably been speaking a lot. He was tired. Just like each one of us can get tired. Jesus got tired, so he slept. Jesus was God in the flesh, but he was also fully human and susceptible to things like getting tired.
B. While the sailors are worried that they are going to die, Jesus is sleeping in the stern of the boat. If Jesus were not fully man his sacrifice would have amounted to nothing, because it needed to be the shedding of blood that brought the forgiveness of sins. If he had not been fully God he would not have been perfect and his sacrifice would have been just like all of the other sacrifices before. Jesus had to be both fully human and fully God in order for his work to be completed.
C. Here at the beginning of this event we have a picture of the humanity of Jesus. We get to see that he was susceptible to some of the same things that you and I are. He got tired. Just like we might get tired. This is the human side of Jesus that we get to see. We also get to see the God side of Jesus in the very next verse.
Action III. Jesus rebuked
A. The disciples demonstrate their failure to understand who Jesus really is. Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat and this storm comes up. The storm is so violent that the waves are breaking over the side of the boat and the seasoned sailors and saying things like “we’re going to drown.” This had to be a very scary storm. While all of this chaos is going on it seems that Jesus is sound asleep. He does not care that this storm is about to swallow him and the disciples. He is sleeping. In their fear the disciples rebuke Jesus. They want him to wake up so he can be afraid, just like they are. IN their panic they either forget who Jesus is, or it could be that they have not yet come to the full realization of who Jesus is. Jesus demonstrates some great power.
B. Jesus gets up and he rebukes the wind and the waves by saying, “Quiet, be still.” In saying these things the wind and the waves obey. This same Jesus who had experienced the human feeling of being tired is now bringing calm in the midst of this storm. There are a lot of things that Jesus did that people have tried to explain away. In so doing they convince themselves that Jesus is not really God. This is one of the most difficult events among Jesus’ miracles to explain away. Rather than trying to explain it away, why not accept the fact that Jesus really is God in the flesh? Why not be content with the knowledge that Jesus did have power over the weather?
C. Whatever we think or believe about Jesus Christ has to be shaped by this passage where we see Jesus taking control of a storm, with wind and waves. This is not something that man has been able to master. He might be able to make it look that way in a movie studio or by using computer animation. Humans cannot take credit for controlling nature. In many cases man cannot even predict what is going to happen in nature and here we see Jesus controlling nature.
Action IV. Jesus questioned
A. My gut instinct here is that the disciples had to be feeling pretty small when Jesus turns to them and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” It is probably not the kind of question we want to answer, but we don’t know how Jesus said it. I assume that it was a condemning tone. It could have been something Jesus asked in sorrow. He was not talking down to the disciples he was just disappointed. It could have even been in a funny sort of tone. After everything stops Jesus says something like, I couldn’t here you over all that wind, what was the trouble? We don’t know the tone of voice Jesus used, but we do know that Jesus questioned the disciples after the storm dies down.
B. I wonder how this made the disciples feel? If I had to guess I would say they were probably embarrassed. They probably felt a little uncomfortable by the questions Jesus asked. They obviously did not have a complete understanding of who Jesus was. In v. 41 they even ask each other, “who is this?” They did not know who Jesus was. The questions Jesus asked revealed to them that their perceptions about Jesus did not match who Jesus really was.
C. I have found that it is very hard to believe and accept that Jesus would make us feel uncomfortable. Jesus made the disciples feel uncomfortable when he asked them this question. He asked them something that they should know and probably caused them to be a little embarrassed. How many times have you thought that something was not coming from Jesus because it caused you to feel embarrassed, or maybe it made you caused you to be humiliated? This did not keep Jesus from addressing his disciples. If Jesus was willing to allow his disciples to experience a little humiliation, and he was willing to let them feel uncomfortable it must be wrong for us to think that he would not do the same for us. If you think about it I believe it is good for us to experience a little humiliation from time to time for the sake of our own personal growth. As these things happen Jesus does this to us because he cares about us.
As Jesus deals with people in this passage, we can learn a lot about him. One thing we tend to forget about Jesus is that he was going. As you talk to Christians today, many of them want non-Christians to come. They want them to come to church and much of that includes getting non-Christians to act like us. We want them to look and act right before they come to Church. Jesus did not do that. He went to people.
Jesus was willing to correct people and challenge them to become more than they had been. He helped them to develop into better people. He was sharpening them and challenging them.