I’m often surprised by storms. Whether they are unexpected turns in the weather or unanticipated changes in life, I am often taken aback and unprepared.
Jesus has never been surprised by a storm. In fact, he always knows about them and sometimes leads us through them anyway.
In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus encourages his disciples to get in a boat after they have been walking all around the sea. Before you read the passage, take note of some critical contextual details that are necessary to understand the depth of what happens at this stage in Jesus’ ministry:
- Jesus had called fishermen from the Sea of Galilee to be His first disciples (Mark 1:16-17).
- As Jesus’ ministry increased, He stayed around the Sea of Galilee without going into it (Mark 2:13; 3:7; 4:1).
- His ministry consisted of walking around the sea beside seasoned fishermen without ever stepping back into a boat.
- Using a boat for His pulpit, Jesus preached in the sea to those on the shore (Mark 4:1) and then finally set out into it the night of the great storm (Mark 4:35-36).
Peace! Be Still!
With those details in mind, read Mark 4:35-41.
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 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?” 39 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 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?”
Jesus Doesn’t Avoid Storms
Do you find it odd that Jesus finally decided to get into a boat on the night when a terrible storm was approaching? Jesus didn’t have the luxury of hearing a weatherman’s report, but He didn’t require it either. If Jesus could do all the things recorded of Him, guaranteed that He knew this storm was coming.
If Jesus could stop the storm, He could have predicted the storm, yet He led them through it anyway.
This storm wasn’t any typical storm either. Seasoned fishermen who lived on that sea were terrified and convinced it was going to take their lives. These experienced sailors were terrified of the storm while the landlubbing carpenter was sleeping right through it. Why were they afraid? Because they were yet unaware of the identity of who was actually in the boat with them.
What name did they call him in Mark 4:38? Teacher. They addressed him as a teacher.
If you mistake Jesus’ identity, you will always overlook His activity.
These disciples saw Jesus still as a teacher, but He was much more than that. He was Lord! He could do more than teach about a storm; He could stop one. When Jesus stood on the helm of that boat and called peace out against that storm, the wind and water had no choice but to obey. They had heard that voice before. Those chaotic elements knew the voice of their Creator when they heard it.
Storms Should Cause Fear
How should we apply this narrative to our lives? Notice how the disciples reacted. In the original language, the word “great” (mega) is used three times in this passage. The disciples went through a great storm (v. 37), Jesus made a great calm (v. 39), and their response was a great fear (v. 41).
The disciples mistakenly feared a storm when they should have feared the One who could sleep through it.
Jesus intentionally led them through a storm that only He could control. The result of the near-death experience was a growing sense of faith for the disciples. His ability to control this storm should instill confidence with Him as they approach the next set of obstacles.
The most caring thing Jesus could do was to lead them through a storm He could control.
- What are the circumstances in your life beyond your control?
- How can you increase faith in your life?