Mark-Remaining Calm Amid the Storm
“Mark Remaining Calm amid the Storm”
When the Wind Blows
I have only been out on the water in a lake only one time in a really bad storm came through. And boy I will never forget that time. I was at a Scout camp out on a large lake in a canoe with a friend when it happened. I saw it coming and figured we had about 10 minutes to get in so we started heading in at that point. We got in, secured our canoe and were yelling at all the others to come in all the while. I was wrong. We didn't have 10 minutes, it was more like 4 minutes.
The wind picked up, and everybody began to panic. Things were starting to blow around. We immediately began to turn over all the canoes and put everything away. Canoes were still coming in but it was obvious that some were not going to get in before the storm got nasty. It seemed that some were so far away they couldn't even hear us. Then it began to rain. We were still out trying to get everything anchored down, tied up or put away and the rain just poured down.
The wind and rain began the quite dangerous when large things began to start blowing around so we took shelter in a building. Who are shocked by the ferocity of the storm. The wind took one of the rowboats which apparently was not securely anchored and blew it 40 or 50 feet and up onto land. We were also concerned about some of the people that we didn't see come in off the lake. The visibility was so poor because of the driving rain. Frankly, all of us were quite afraid.
The Storms of Life
Life is like that. Sometimes the storms of life come upon us so quickly and with such ferocity that we are taken off guard. At times it may even seem like those storms will overwhelm us or even end our lives. We are going through an economic storm of massive proportions and if it hasn't affected yet just wait, it likely will. Perhaps you're looking at this global storm and wondering if you'll get through it. We might look at each other and say, "I can't go to anybody else in this storm because we are all affected."
The Disciples' Storm
In the passage which we will look at today we find the disciples having a very similar situation. They were having a bad day and their very lives for being threatened. Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 4:35. It had been a hectic day. We would have to go back to Mark 3:20 to see where Jesus was at the beginning of the day. So Jesus had been teaching and healing, all the while surrounded by crowds to the point where they didn't even have a chance to eat. His family came and tried to take you away because they thought it was crazy. The Pharisees and teachers of the law had accused him of being a demon possessed man and was now teaching by the lakeside. Some that we pick up the account in Mark chapter 4:35.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
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.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
The Jonah Parallel
There are some interesting parallels between this account of Jesus with his disciples on the storm tossed sea and that of the prophet Jonah. Obviously there are some important differences that come to mind here, too. The first similarity is that the storms in both accounts came up suddenly and threatened to sink the boat. Secondly, in both accounts the central figure, Jesus or Jonah, is sleeping in an out-of-the-way place on the boat while the storm rages on. Thirdly, in both accounts the central figure is awakened by an urgent call to wake up. In fact, there is surprise expressed that the central figure could even be asleep through such a storm.
I also believe that the storms in each account demonstrate power of God but they demonstrated it in different ways. While several commentaries have expressed their agreement that there is a parallel between the accounts of Jonah and Jesus none of them offer an explanation as to why there is a parallel. I would say this is one of God's ironies. It's also hard to miss that Jesus is now going to a pagan land to minister and preach there just as Jonah was asked to do. But while Jonah was unwilling to do that and ran from God which caused a storm, Jesus was obeying God and yet encountered a storm.
This was not one of the run-of-the-mill storms. Mark describes it as "a great windstorm," "a fierce gale," "a strong wind," or "a fierce squall" depending on which translation you look at. Storms on the Sea of Galilee frequently come up suddenly and with a great ferocity. This is due in part to the fact that the Sea of Galilee is about 680 feet below sea level with valleys to the west leading winds down from the Mediterranean Sea with powerful force. In the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, storms were the providence of God usually seen as an evidence of God's power or judgment.
Fear and the Cares of This World
Keep in mind though that among Jesus' disciples there were no less than three well seasoned fisherman with a great deal of experience on this lake. They were among those who came to Jesus to wake Him up. What was driving their fear? Their eyes were fixed on a raging storm around them. Did you notice that their perspective changed. They could not understand how Jesus could be calm in the middle of such a terrible storm. They could not remember the miracles that Jesus had performed. Nor could they remember the teachings of Jesus had just given on the kingdom.
Yet I believe this is one of the main reasons they were allowed to go through this storm. Remember the parable of the four soils? What kinds of soil were there? The pathway where Satan would quickly steal away the teachings of Jesus, the rocky soil where the hero does not allow the teaching of God's Word to penetrate deep enough and so quickly weathers. There was also the soil amongst the thorns where the cares of this world quickly crowd out the message and of course the good soil that produces an abundant crop.
In order for Jesus' teaching to become firmly planted into the soil of their soul it needed to be tested so that would make it their own. For teaching is merely theory in till it's tried in the real world. So God gave them a real world test of their faith. So how do you think they did?
Remaining Calm amid the Storm
Let's take a look at Jesus in the middle of this storm. Do you think He had no idea it was coming? I believe He did expect the storm. When He was awakened, does it seem like He feared for His life? Absolutely not! On the contrary, Jesus was remarkably calm. And there were several points throughout the story in which we could see opportunity for Jesus to become just as afraid of this storm as the disciples. But He didn't. How could Jesus remain calm amid the storm?
For one thing, Jesus kept His focus clear. He trusted His Heavenly Father. We should do the same. In the midst of storms and troubles we should keep our focus clear. We should trust that our Heavenly Father loves us and that He will care for us. But if He tells us to go somewhere He will be with us even in the middle of storms.
Another thing, Jesus knew His power and authority. He knew that He was the Son of God going through this situation. He knew that he had authority over the situation. In fact, Jesus still has power and authority over all things. We need to keep that in mind. I know that can be very difficult in the middle of great turbulence. But Jesus is our sovereign Lord and he can calm the raging sea. We who profess Jesus Christ is our sovereign Lord too must not allow the cares of this world to blind us from the fact that our Lord is THE Lord.
There is no doubt that we will go through difficulty. Jesus assured us that we would. But we must also remember that our Lord is there with us in those difficulties, through those storms. So as we look on as the world economy struggles let us remember undo that, let us remember that our Lord is with us and He is sovereign. Let us not fix our eyes on the cares and worries of this world for they are many. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the calmness of our Lord. For he is mighty and powerful to save.
We are often tempted to worry. We are enticed to stew and simmer over a situation because that situation can overwhelm us. It is so close to us. It is so threatening and imposing. Whatever your situation is today, whether it be money woes, whether it be physical maladies, whether it be relationship troubles were some terrible situation you're in, remember the Lord is in the boat with you. Take your eyes off of the storm and focus on the Lord, read His word, trust in Him.
I would like to leave you with this passage from Psalm 107:24-31
24They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. 26They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. 27They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end. 28Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 29He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 30They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. 31Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.