Have you ever found yourself amidst a life-threatening storm? If you have, you understand the seriousness of such a thing?
Typically, your focus is on little else but dealing with and surviving the storm itself.
A number of years ago the company I worked for sent me to Tampa, Florida for a training conference. A few weeks before the conference began, a very severe hurricane hit the Tampa area. Weeks later, after arriving in Tampa, there was still plenty of evidence a hurricane had hit the area. There was lots of building damage, large palm trees uprooted and cast to the ground. The damage certainly got my attention and underscored the fact that a severe hurricane is nothing to take lightly.
The weeklong conference began as scheduled. As the days passed, we began hearing word of another hurricane heading toward the area. During the course of the week the threat and severity of the storm greatly increased.
The week quickly passed and the storm drew ever closer. Unexpectedly, my manager called and ordered me to leave the area as soon as possible. He was very concerned for my safety.
I immediately called the airline requesting they cancel my flight and move my departure up a day. Customer Service said they had one ticket left on a very early fight. After booking the flight, I was told that it was the last seat, on the last flight out of the airport. I thanked the representative, and thanked the Lord for His provision.
To make the flight, I had to head to the airport at 2 am in the morning. When I got to the terminal, to my surprise, it was overflowing with people who came in hopes of getting a flight before the storm hit. The atmosphere was loud and intense. People were noticeably anxious as they waited for news of the situation. As I observed the frenzy, I couldn’t help but think that they were wasting their time. The airport was closing soon and I had purchased the last seat on the last flight out of Tampa. The moment seemed more like a suspense movie than real life.
As we boarded the plane, I sat in my seat and looked out the window. All I could see were ominous, dark storm clouds approaching.
Soon the flight began taking off and I felt a moment of relief. As I sat and observed takeoff, I began to consider all those people left behind and what they were going to encounter. I could not help but feel I felt bad for them and wished they too were able to leave.
On various occasions during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He and his disciples encountered unusual trials. We see an example of one such challenge in the gospel of Mark chapter 4 verses 35 through 41. There it says, “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
A GREAT MULTITUDE
Prior to heading out into deeper waters, the Bible describes an incredible situation that took place. In the gospel of Mark chapter 4 verse 1 it says of Jesus, “And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.”
As Christ and his followers passed through the area, a “great multitude” gathered around him and pressed him to the point of feeling the need to get into a boat and depart the shore.
This was no small thing. No doubt, there were few people who simply by their presence caused a “great multitude” to gather simply to hear them speak. Let’s remember that this took place in a day where there was no Internet, there were no public relation firms, there were no promoters and the like for most people, never mind a poor ex-carpenter like Jesus.
This young man, who had received no formal training to prepare Him for this moment, simply by His presence, drew a massive crowd of people who sought to hear Him speak.
As the event ended and Jesus and his disciples were preparing to depart the area by boat, His disciples were cool, calm and in control. Seeing the masses and hearing Jesus address them must have been an exciting moment for them. They must have been overjoyed with excitement. They had given up everything to follow this man, and things were looking up.
The Bible then points out in verse 36, “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.”
Before the storm hit, it says, “they took him along.” The disciple confidently took charge of Jesus and proceeded onto their next destination by boat.
Why were they so confident? Was it because Jesus was with them? I don’t think so. In Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11 the Bible points out that Peter, Andrew, James and John were professional fishermen.
These four men made their living as fishermen. They were used to being in boats on large bodies of water. They were used to all sorts of conditions. Thus, they did not spook easily. They were confident because they were in their element.
When thinking about self-confidence, I’m reminded of a special moment in Baseball history that took place at the 1932 World Series. It was the last World Series Babe Ruth would play in. At one point in the game, Ruth stepped up to bat with great confidence. With two strikes on him, Babe said, “I looked out at center field and I pointed. I said, I’m going to hit the next pitched ball right passed the flag pole. Well, the good Lord must have been with me.” Ruth indeed hit the ball out of the park just as he said.
How was it that Babe Ruth was able point to center field and predict a home run and deliver? Simply put, he was in his element when at bat. Displaying such confidence came easy when he was swinging a baseball bat.
Just as Ruth was full of confidence when he stepped into the batter’s box, so too were Peter, Andrew, James and John when they stepped on a fishing boat. As professional fishermen, they knew the sea. And certainly, over time they must have weathered many a storm on open waters. As a result, they confidently took charge of the situation and set out for their destination.
A GREAT STORM
At some point during the voyage, madness broke out. Mark chapter 4 verse 37 says that out of nowhere, “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.”
The four fishermen who had seen many rough waters, were stunned. Clearly, they had never encountered anything of this magnitude. As they strove to preserve the lives of all on board, the “great windstorm” brought great fear and dread with it. The hearts of the seasoned fishermen melted like butter on a hot summers day.
Just how big was this storm? The Greek word used to describe it is “megas.” It is from the word “megas” we get the English word “mega.” This was no small storm, this was a “mega” storm. The word “megas” can be translated “exceedingly,” “great,” “high,” “large,” “loud,” “mighty,” “strong” etc.
This storm was something special. It was a great windstorm. It was a mega storm!
Why did the four fishermen wake Jesus and cry out in verse 38, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
No matter how physically strong, skilled, tested, self-confident or even committed to the mission, the fishermen were humans. When faced with a horrific and impending death, they melted, feared and cried out “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
The context clearly indicates that they were not acting on faith in Christ, but mortal fear. At that moment they felt no assurance of eternal life or heaven as their destination. These men had witnessed Christ perform miracles, but this did little to assure them at the moment.
Why? Their skin was on the line.
They were humans. Even though they had given up everything to follow Christ, they had not yet totally embraced Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
The apostles had not yet received the Holy Spirit as seen on the day of Pentecost. Rather they continued to walk by sight.
The book of Acts chapter 2 verses 1 through 4 describes the power of the Holy Spirit coming on the apostles. There it says, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Prior to the filling of the Holy Spirit, the apostles appeared to be more tentative. When the going intensified, as in the case of the mega storm, their hearts quaked with fear. After “rushing mighty wind” of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, things changed forever more.
In Acts chapter 2 verse 14 we see Peter along with the other apostles stand before a crowd and preach the gospel openly. This was no small step as the powerful religious leaders of their day sought to stamp out Christianity.
Later, in Acts chapter 4 Peter and John found trouble when sharing the gospel with others. In verses 1 through 3 it says, “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day.”
How did Peter and John respond to trouble after receiving the Holy Spirit? Acts 4:8 says that Peter stood before the “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel” and shared the gospel with them. In verse 13 it adds, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.”
Where these the same men who cried out in Mark chapter 4 verse 38, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Of course, they were!
What changed? The Holy Spirit of God now indwelled them providing both words, and the ability and strength to stand firm. These once faithless men were now living and walking by faith in the risen Christ.
In Matthew chapter 17 verse 20 Jesus said to His followers, “assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
The apostles now had the faith of a mustard seed. They were new men with a new mission in life, a new comfort zone.
A GREAT SAVIOR
The last and most important thing we notice about the account is when Jesus was woken by the pleas of His disciples, in Mark chapter 4 verse 39 it says, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
Jesus “rebuked the wind,” “Quiet! Be still!” He said, and to the amazement of all, it immediately “died down.”
Many a person has yelled at an object, demanding it to cease causing trouble, and have been disappointed by the results. Think of a car acting up. You yell, stop in now! If your lucky, it stops its troubling behavior, but it has little to do with your pleas.
Jesus on the other hand ordered the mega storm to “Be still” and it ceased! The difference between Jesus and all others is that as Creator of the heavens and the earth, He is Lord of the storm. When He commanded the storm to cease, it ceased!
Jesus, the great Prophet, Priest and King, was likewise the great Savior. He could have allowed all to perish, but He didn’t. Rather, He commanded the mega storm to quiet and it did.
How did the disciples respond to this new-found awareness?
Mark chapter 4 verse 41 says, “they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Their first response wasn’t to applaud Jesus. It wasn’t to let out a nervous laugh and congratulate each other for surviving. Nor was it to praise God. Their first response was to become even more fearful. Mark 4:41 says, “they feared exceedingly.” Initially, they feared for their lives. The fear they now experienced was one of amazement. They said, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
The apostle had never seen someone do what Jesus did and chances are, they never would see such a thing again. They had traveled with Christ. They had slept around the same campfires. They had seen Him heal people, yet none of this prepared them for this moment.
Jesus the great Savior is the Lord or the storm!
If we were out on the boat with Jesus that day, how might we have responded? Would we have had a confidence Peter, Andrew, James and John did not display? Would we have sat back as the waves overcame the boat and thought, “No problem Jesus is in control!”
Fact is, as mere humans, there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy fear of horrific events playing out before our eyes. The question is, do we use such occasions to motivate us to turn to Christ as the great solution to life’s most challenging things or do we just stand there afraid and wetting our pants?
If you have never embraced Christ as Lord and Savior, don’t wait until the mega storms of life cast you to and fro amid the stormy waves. Turn to Him now and embrace His free gift of grace, mercy and salvation.
And I’ll praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands. For You are who You are, no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried, you hold in Your hand. You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.
Praise You In This Storm (Chorus)
Casting Crowns – Copyright 2005