Our subject for this Devotional is based on a small portion of Scripture, but this Scripture is one in which we can glean some very applicable truths for our lives.
Jesus had just spent the day standing in a boat just off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Before Him on the shore were many people listening to His teaching concerning the Kingdom of God. Closest to Him were those disciples that Jesus had chosen specifically to pour truth into them. The sun was beginning to set on the western shore of the sea when Jesus said He was done teaching for the day. This is the account written by Mark concerning the events of the remainder of the evening.
35: And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us
pass over unto the other side.
36: And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He
was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships.
37: And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the
ship, so that it was now full.
38: And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they
awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39: And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be
still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40: And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have
41: And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner
of Man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
So Jesus being in human flesh was tired of standing on the boat, ready to rest and probably ready to get something to eat. His advice to His disciples was to go to the other side of the lake, to remove Himself from the crowd, and go to Gadarene’s Gourmet Fish and Chips Restaurant. The people began to go home as Jesus sailed away, but there were others who were on ships as well and they decided to sail alongside of Jesus and His disciples. Those on the other ships did not want to miss anything Jesus would say or do, so they were willing to follow Him to the other side.
We see in Verse 37 that “the tide begins to turn.” What would be perceived as a calm ten mile journey across a small sea had developed into what the disciples would call a nightmare. This short verse says it all. There arose a great storm of wind. Not just a storm, but a great storm. Living in Central Ohio, we know there is a difference between a storm and a great storm. The winds were gale force winds that caused the waves to beat violently against the boat. The waves were driven by a sustaining wind that caused the boat to be filled with water. Yet, in the midst of these fierce circumstances, Jesus was in the back of the boat sound asleep with His head comfortably resting on a pillow. Can you imagine the thoughts going through the minds of the disciples? When the rain began to come and the breeze began to blow, they probably thought that it would just blow over. After all, Jesus was in the boat. What could possibly happen?
As the wind blew stronger and the waves began to slap the side of the boat, their opinions began to change. A few moments later, their words of assurance that the storm would amount to nothing became desperate cries waking up Jesus. “Hello Jesus! Wake up! Do You not see that we are all about to die here?!” They may have even said, “Jesus, what is it going to look like if You, the self-proclaimed Messiah, and us, Your closest followers, all die in a sea?! Can You see the headlines in the Gadarenes Gazette the next day?!”
At this point, I personally see the emphasis in Verse 39 a bit differently than some interpret it to be. I don’t see any exclamation marks indicating a desperate loud cry. I simply see Jesus saying and doing what this Scripture says. He rose from His pillow and in a stern, but calm, voice commanded the storm and winds to be at peace and still themselves.
Verse 38 indicates Jesus was a Man, the Word had become flesh, and His flesh became tired and needed rest. But Verse 39 reveals that Jesus was also the One Who was still God and His words were words of authority. Jesus was 100% Man and 100% God. His divine deity was revealed when He spoke and the great storm had immediately transitioned into a great calm.
Before I go any further in this portion of Scripture, let me expound on this story as it applies to our lives today. Remember these were His disciples, those that chose to be close to Him. Yes, Jesus called them, but they chose to follow Him. These were the ones that desired to hear every word He spoke and watch every move He made. Yet these very ones were the ones that experienced the storm. You may notice that some people may not have the desire you do to follow Christ closely, and it may seem that they don’t experience the storms that you do. Let me just say that’s okay. I would rather have Jesus in my boat. I would rather experience a storm or two and be close to Him than have smooth sailing and be far from Him. It is not a popular theology, but nevertheless true, that the storms in life will bring us closer to Christ. Remember that the three who were closest to Christ were all fishermen. They had dealt with storms on the sea before. They may have said at the beginning of the storm that they could handle it. It took a great storm for them to learn they cannot control the wind and the waves, but they must trust in the One Who does. The Lord may test us in our strengths to remind us how weak we are without Him. It was that kind of test that Paul was experiencing when he heard Jesus say, “My grace is sufficient for thee. For My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2nd Corinthians 12:9).
How about the other ships that were sailing along with the disciples? After all, their desire was to be as close to Christ as they could. But Jesus was not in their boat. When Jesus calmed the sea, He calmed the whole sea. Those in the other ships were spared as well. I believe Mark would have recorded any loss of life.
You may have family members around you sailing on other ships. Within themselves they may want to serve Christ, but they have not made that full commitment yet. Know that Jesus has calmed their troubled sea as well. Don’t hinder them in any way from sailing close to you. Call out to the Master on their behalf that they would not perish, knowing He has spoken, “Peace. Be still.” over them. Expect them to hear His voice in their storms.
Sometimes storms will beat against us. Sometimes the waters of affliction will fill our boat. Sometimes, it is a great storm that will attempt to shake our faith. We may even be experienced fishermen , veterans of the Faith. We quote Scripture. We pray. We trust in the Lord. We do all we can do, but we are not in control. If that isn’t enough, Jesus is asleep on a pillow. We have the same thoughts as the disciples. “Hello Jesus! Do You not feel the storm I am feeling? If You are on my boat, I know You have to be reeling and rocking, too! Wake up!”
Let us examine carefully what the lesson is in this true account of life. After calming the sea, Jesus says, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Once again, I believe Jesus spoke these words sincerely, yet calmly. Nothing in this story took Jesus by surprise. This was an event in the life of the disciples that would be a learning experience for them. They may have learned more in this storm experience than they did during the entire teachings of Jesus that day on the shores of the sea.
Let’s not look at the storm. Let’s look at Jesus. By the way, we do that don’t we? We focus on the storm rather than the God above the storm. Moving on.
How is it that Jesus could rest in the midst of such wind? One reason is that He knew they were going to pass over unto the other side. That is what He said. That was His Father’s plan for Him. So He knew come hell or high water, He was going to make it to the other side. Here is what Jesus said in John 8:29: “He that has sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone for I do always those things that please Him.” In essence, Jesus is saying, if My Father wants me to pass over to the other side, He is with Me to see that will happen and when it happens, it will please Him. So you think that truth is great?! Listen to these words of Jesus to us in John 10:27-30: “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them to Me is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are One.” Wow, what a promise to the sheep who follow Him and to those who are in His boat! He promises us that we will not perish and no man or no storm will be able to pluck us out of His hand.
The word pluck means to “seize” or to “take by force.” Excuse me for a moment while I run around my boat on the water. Just as Jesus knew He would not perish in the great storm, He knew those following Him would not perish in the storm, because no storm would seize Him or His disciples out of the Father’s hand. He and His Father are One, so the promise He had from His Father is the promise we have from His Father.
Let’s look at that word “perish.” Jesus was disappointed that the disciples would use that word because it means “to destroy or to come to nothing.” When the disciples asked Jesus “Don’t You care that we perish?”, they were saying that Jesus would allow them to be destroyed and come to nothing. It wasn’t so much about dying in the storm, but saying God’s plan for them would be destroyed and come to nothing. Their statement was directly contradictory to the reason Jesus came to earth. Jesus was very plain in Luke 9:56 when He said “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” The word destroy is the same word as perish. Jesus did not come to earth and die on a cross so lives would be destroyed, but so lives would be saved. And John 3:16 says that we would not only be saved but have everlasting life. When we surrender ourselves unto Christ, we can never be destroyed. His plan for us will always come to pass despite of the storms.
Now back to the point Jesus made in Mark 4:40: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Whatever the storm is that is beating against your ship, know that there is no need to fear for you have the promise of the Father that you will not perish. Let me point out that some Faith teachers would teach if the disciples would have had faith, the storm never would have happened. Wrong! Jesus was teaching them you need not fear, but have simple faith that He will take you through the storm. The rain falls on the unjust and the just. The sun shines on the unjust and the just. Notice that Jesus rebuked the storm, not the disciples. He was pleasing His Father through teaching the disciples a simple, real life-learned lesson of faith. They would have learned this lesson whether they had slept through the storm or cried out to Jesus. But because of their cry to Jesus, we know it was a lesson that Jesus knew they needed to learn experientially to grow in faith for the future.
Verse 41 records the result of their experience. The great storm changed to a great calm simply by three words Jesus spoke. “Peace. Be still.” The fear that the disciples had of the storm turned into a reverential fear of Christ.
“What manner of man is this?” I will tell you. He is the One Who has all power in Heaven and in earth. He is the One that I want in my boat whether the waters are troubled or calm. He is the One that has promised me I will not be destroyed or perish. I would rather have a sleeping Jesus in my boat than an awakened devil.
Are you one of His sheep? Do you hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him? Then He knows you. He knows all about you. He knows you better then you know yourself. He knows them that are His. His sheep have the promise of eternal life. It is life eternal that begins at the moment of being born again and becoming His sheep. Yes our earthly body will perish and we will receive a glorified body , but when we surrender our lives to Him our soul and spirit receive eternal life immediately. We become citizens of Heaven even here on earth. When we continue to hear His voice and follow Him , His promise to us is that we will not perish, be destroyed or come to nothing. His promise is that no one or nothing will seize us out of our Fathers hand. The Father is greater than all. He is greater than the storm. Not even the storm can destroy me or pluck me out of His hand. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Experiencing a storm does not mean you are not one of His sheep. When one of His sheep experience a storm it will only reveal what manner of God we serve. He is the great God of all. Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from Heaven above. With wisdom ,power and love. Our God is an awesome God.
Let us not fear and be afraid of the storm, but let us instead reverentially fear the God of the storm and know He has spoken these words, “Peace. Be still.”