Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

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Jesus Calms the Storm

Mark 4:35-41

KV 4:40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Last week we returned to Mark’s gospel. So far in Mark’s gospel we see Jesus do 3 main things. Preach about the kingdom of God, heal the sick and demon possessed and call and raise disciples. Today’s passage and indeed most of chapter 4 is focused on the third, raising disciples. In chapter 4 so far through 3 parables Jesus taught the disciples the importance of considering the word of God with the right attitude. Jesus taught them that the secrets of the kingdom of God are contained in the word of God, which they must search out. 

In today’s passage Jesus again teaches the power of His word when he calms a furious raging storm saying “Quiet! Be Still!”. Through doing so Jesus reminded His disciples that indeed He is Lord over all and in control even when it seems our life is falling apart. May God grow our faith and trust in Him so that Jesus doesn’t have to ask us “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”. 

Let’s read verse 35. “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’” The day Mark is talking about is the same day in which Jesus taught the crowds one parable after another in the hopes that they might learn even one secret about the kingdom of God and the power of His word. He taught the parable of the sower, the parable of the growing seed, the parable of the mustard seed and probable others that weren’t recorded. As you might imagine from many hours of teaching and listening to teaching, both Jesus and the disciples must have been worn out. Jesus has a plan though to go over to the side of the lake. So, he says to his disciples “Let us go over to the other side.”

In today’s short passage Jesus only speaks 3 times and says a total of 22 words. Thus, today we are going to really pay careful attention to every word Jesus speaks. Here, what is Jesus saying?  He’s leading His disciples. He says “Let us go over to the other side.”. Not only is he leading them but He’s going to be with them. He says “Let us go”.  

What can we learn from this? First and foremost. Jesus has a plan and is going to accomplish His plan. In fact, nothing can stop God from accomplishing His plan. He is the Lord and is in total control. As we studied through Genesis last year, nothing could stop God’s salvation plan. Not man’s unfaithfulness, human error or the devil’s schemes. 

In 1 Samuel 14:6 Jonathan said to his armor-bearer  “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”. Likewise, we see when Jesus does reach the other side of the lake he immediately meets a demon possessed man whom he saves and calls to share how much Jesus had done for him throughout the region. Then they return. 

These days there seems to be much uncertainty regarding the future. There are so many things we don’t know. When life will resume? How long this virus will stay around etc. But what we do know is that God will accomplish his plan and is accomplishing his plan right now.  

Our plans may fail but God’s plans do not. When we truly follow God we have no reason to fear. He is with us and will accomplish His plan. David said in Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”. 

In this passage the disciples were following God’s leading or plan. They had no reason to fear. His plans not only do not fail but he also leads His people in the best way, not to harm them but to grow them and use them. He told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”. We must follow his plan, trust His plan and not look back. 

Recently Msn Joshua and Ruth Kim firmly decided to follow God’s plan which was given to them years ago to pioneer University of Delaware and preach the gospel there. It was not an easy decision to make as they had to sacrifice and give up many things. I heard his pay was much lower. But God surely has great things in store for them and they can trust this plan will not harm them but grow them and His kingdom just as Jesus’ plan did in today’s passage. Likewise, we have many people graduating in the next month. We must not make decisions based only on job or money or feelings but instead we must firmly make a decision to follow God. 

Let’s see what happened in today’s passage as the disciples followed Jesus’ plan. Let’s read verse 37. “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped.”. 

Perhaps when the disciples heard Jesus’ plan they had thought they would have some smooth sailing and get some rest on the other side of the lake where there were far fewer people. However, suddenly we find a furious squall came up. The waves broke over the boat so that it was almost swamped. I’m sure this is not what the disciples had in mind. Even though they were mostly fishermen who had fished this very lake many an evening, this storm was more than they could handle. 

Though the disciples had hoped for smooth sailing and some rest this was not what they got. Like the disciples, everyone in this life will eventually encounter storms in their life. Fierce, unexpected events that we cannot handle on our own strength. We’ll encounter sickness, hard challenges, losses of various kinds, even face death. 

We find in today’s passage the reason why Jesus put this storm in their life. It wasn’t to destroy them or hurt them but to grow their faith. Two weeks ago, we studied 1 Peter for Easter. The recipients of Peter’s letter had faced many trials of various kinds. He said to them “These trials have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold may be proven genuine and may result in praise, honor and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed.”. Likewise, I think in today’s passage Jesus purposefully took them through this storm (and temporarily fell in sleep) in order to strengthen and refine their faith. His last word in today’s passage is “Do you still have no faith?”. In Luke’s gospel Jesus said “When the son of man returns will he find faith on the earth?”. God longs for His people to have faith. By faith we please God. By faith we enter His kingdom. By faith we overcome our situation. By faith we can humble ourselves to serve others while on this earth until they meet Jesus personally. Through faith Jesus would use these disciples to spread the gospels to the ends of the earth. Jesus so longed for his disciples to grow in faith that he put them through this storm at this time in their life. Many people spend much of their life working for and accumulating many assets like houses, stock portfolios etc. They long for them to grow in value thinking they can provide peace and security. But the most important asset one can ever have, which is worth more than gold, is one’s faith in Jesus Christ which gives us peace which surpasses all understanding and eternal security. Though the disciples’ were not perfect, when they followed Jesus, Jesus graciously helped them grow their faith. Later on in life, the disciples would suffer from many other storms and it was faith in Jesus’ words that replaced the fear in their hearts with the peace of God. I pray God may help you to firmly follow Jesus through all times of your life.  

Some people may think faith grows on trees. That faith will naturally grow somehow. But Jesus didn’t think so. Through his life we see time and time again Jesus intentionally and purposefully helped his disciples grow faith. In last week’s passage he helped them have faith in the Word of God. In today’s passage he gave them storm training. Later he challenged his disciples telling them you give them something to eat. Later he sent them out two by two and told them not to take anything on the journey except a staff. All of this was done in love so they could grow their faith in Him. This was the great love of Jesus not only for them but for those later they would come to teach. 

Through today’s passage and through this pandemic I’m deeply reminded that the best thing we can do in our lives is to help people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Worse than suffering through a virus is suffering through a virus without faith in Jesus. 

Through this pandemic I see many videos online of nurses and doctors praying for their patients and some planting faith in them. What a blessing they are. How did they get to that point? Someone planted the Word of God in their heart. Someone prayed for them and encouraged them with words of faith. Someone challenged them to overcome the storms of life and live by faith and not by sight. 

Some of the people I’m most thankful for are people who helped me to put faith in Jesus. They spoke Words of faith and challenged me so I could grow faith. Once I remember as a student I didn’t want to join a Spring Bible conference because I had no money to pay for it. Instead of giving me the money or just letting me skip my shepherd challenged me to find a way to come up with the money and join by faith. Later Msn Jacob challenged me to give Sunday message by faith though I was a terrible stammered. Though I struggled, preferring a more comfortable stress-free life. But I thank God for using them to plant faith in me. 

As we go back to regular life, I pray God may use our church individually and collectively to plant faith in others. I pray we may do this with one heart and mind. May God help us be good shepherds like Jesus with the vision to help others grow in faith raising up a chosen generation to march throughout the land. 

When God leads us we need to trust in His good and perfect plan even if we encounter storms on the way. Unfortunately, at this point in their this is not exactly how his disciples responded. Let’s see what happened in verse 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?”. 

First, we see Jesus was sleeping on a cushion. 

It seems many people have many different interpretations why Jesus was sleeping here. When I asked my wife why Jesus was sleeping she said simply that he was tired so he slept. During the Bible study on Monday, Msn Joseph Chun said Jesus had total control over the situation so he had no need to worry. I’m sure they are both right in some way or another. But my answer is Jesus Christ had fully entrusted his life to His heavenly father and thus had the peace to where he could sleep in any situation. This was the kind of faith and peace that Jesus wanted his disciples and us to also have. 

Second, what did the disciples do? They woke him. It certainly seemed like the right thing to do.  But unfortunately, they also had to open their mouth and share what was in their heart. They said “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”. At this point in their life the disciples had seen Jesus do many amazing things. He had healed a leper, drove out demons, raised a paralytic. He had seen Jesus deeply care for all kinds of sick and suffering people. By His grace he even called them to be His disciples. But at this point they had yet to believe Jesus’ unfailing love for themselves personally. Thus, when this storm came and they saw Jesus sleeping on a cushion all they could do was to believe he did not care whether they lived or died. Thus, they shouted “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown”. 

When we doubt the love of God we cannot help but live in fear and distress when storms arrive in our lives. All we can do is blame God like the disciples, don’t you care. When we doubt the love of God whatever storm we are facing will always be bigger than God. 

How do we get through the storms of life? To get through storms in our life we must hold on firmly to the fact that God loves us and cares for us. That His love for us is deep and wide and greater than any power. We can see the apostle John held deeply to the love of God through Jesus calling himself the one whom Jesus loved. The word love appears 57 times in John’s gospel and 46 times in 1 John. He even said God is love.  

The apostle Paul held firmly to the love of God through Christ Jesus in His life overcoming many persecutions and hardships. He even said “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Last year right after getting married and beginning work, Monica Forbes had a sudden and unexpected storm in her life through suffering a stroke. It was a really scary moment. In her testimony she shared how she was able to get through this storm in her life because she knew the love of God through Jesus Christ. Shepherd David Brogi has had many health issues over the years but I see he has been able to come through them because he deeply believes Jesus loves him. 

In our life we will face many storms. It’s a given. Things won’t always turn out like we hope or planned. But when we hold firmly to the love of God through Jesus he will surely help us get through every one of them. 

How did Jesus respond to the disciples? Let’s read verse 39. He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”. Even though at that moment the disciples seem to have no faith that Jesus cared for them, we see Jesus get up and rebuke the wind and command the waves to be still. 

Through doing so we learn two things about Jesus. First, without a doubt he greatly cared for and loved His disciples. Due to His love for them he would not let them drown or perish. In fact, it seemed it greatly offended Jesus that his disciples would doubt his love. We see he got up from his sleep, rebuked the wind and calmed the storm. Then he rebuked his disciples for doubting his love. Why were you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? 

In the same way we know He cares for us so much that he would not let us perish but he laid down His life so that we would not perish but have everlasting life. Later Peter would come to believe that Jesus cared for him so much that he exhorted God’s people “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you!”. When we hold on firmly to God’s love, he will give us peace to overcome any storm of life. 

Second, we learn of Jesus’ power and lordship. How did he calm this raging storm? By saying three words. “Quiet! Be still”. So far in Mark’s gospel Jesus has already shown his power and authority over sicknesses. He rebuked the fever of Simon’s mother in law. Told the leper be cleansed. He showed his authority over demons. Even they obeyed him and said you are the son of God. He showed his authority to forgive sins by telling the paralytic to get up take his mat and go home. Now we see in today’s passage he shows his disciples he even has authority over nature by rebuking the winds and waves. 

When the disciples saw this they were terrified and said “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him?”. The answer of course is He is the Lord. He is the one we must put our faith in and obey. Evil spirits obeyed him, the winds and the waves obeyed him. How much more should we! He is Lord even over the storm. He is greater than the storm. He controls the storm. These days we are all still troubled by the coronavirus. But rest assured Jesus is Lord even over the coronavirus. He is in control. Let’s not fix our eyes on the virus but fix our eyes on Him and trust Him through this. Just as this all started suddenly it will also end suddenly when God accomplishes His purpose through it. Let’s humbly trust Him, pray, seek him and turn from our wicked ways. 

Jesus showed them that no matter what storm one is going through, the word of God can bring stillness and peace in the place of the storm. He showed them that his word was enough to calm the raging storm. He showed them that his word can calm the storm of life. 

 Finally, let’s see what Jesus said to them in verse 40. Let’s read it together. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These two questions of Jesus are two questions that all people must ask of themselves when they encounter a storm in their life and are shaking. Why am I so afraid? Do I still have no faith? The disciples found that there was no reason to be afraid. Jesus was leading them. He was with them in the boat. He loved them deeply and had total control and power over the situation as Lord over all.  Why were they so afraid? Jesus found the reason was due to their lack of faith. It’s not that they had no faith at all. They had left everything to follow him but at that time their fear was much greater than their faith.   

They simply let unreasonable fear take hold of them. As for us, we must know that while the storms of life will surely come time and again, we must also know that as long as Jesus is with us in the boat of life, there is no reason to fear. He deeply loves us, cares for us and has control over every situation. Jesus is greater than any storm of life. May God help us to have his peace in our hearts knowing our lives and future are in God’s hand and his love for us will never change, storm or no storm. God does not abandon us in our weaknesses. Like he did with the disciples, he patiently strengthens us in faith until we can overcome every storm of life. Let’s read our key verse 40.