We send our prayers to those impacted by recent natural disasters and the victims and families of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones, homes, and property. May God grant them the strength to face today and move ahead tomorrow. When we are weak, He is strong.
As I shared last week, despite the hardships we face in life, we are in a season to celebrate the goodness of God and bring hope to a world that longs for what only Jesus can give—peace amid uncertainty. It is a season to let faith triumph over fear and to display the love and hope of God to the nations—starting right here in Tucson or wherever you live. The Church is the light of the world–radiate the love, peace, and hope of Christ in an unprecedented way in this hour.
True peace and rest, amid the trials and storms of life, are found in Jesus—He is the Prince of Peace.
Jesus Calms the Stormy Sea – Mark 4:35-41
Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
This story begins as Jesus and the disciples are leaving the western shore of the Galilee immediately following the conclusion of the seed parables (Mark 4:1-34).
The seed parables describe the basis for this first nature miracle story and the miracle stories that follow in Mark 5. Remember, chapter and verse divisions were added later in the Bible and not completed until the mid-16th century. Therefore, the seed parables convey to the reader the necessity of hearing and seeing the reality of the Kingdom of God Jesus has declared—immediately followed by miracle stories at the end of Mark 4 and all of Mark 5.
These miracle stories amplify the truth of the Kingdom of God and mystery of God in Christ. He is the Messiah! In this story, and the ones to follow, God’s sovereign power is being unleashed—that is, God’s Kingdom is at hand—so listen, look and observe!
In verse 41, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
This question, recorded here by Mark, is followed by the answer in Mark 5. Mark did not intend for his readers to form an answer; he wants Jesus’ action recorded in Mark 5:1-43 to demonstrate the answer.
The liberation of the demonized man, healing the woman with the issue of blood, and raising the daughter of Jarius from the dead all convey one simple and profound truth—Jesus is Lord over all!
Jesus tells the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
The Father’s will for Jesus and the disciples was to get to the other side of the lake to free the oppressed and heal the sick. Don’t be surprised when opposition arises as you “crossover” to fulfill God’s call and will for your life.
The storm comes and the boat is filling with water—the situation looks dire and hopeless. The storm arises—it indicates a hopeless situation. The men are powerless to do anything! This theme of hopelessness is repeated in Mark 5—the stories are beyond human ability. But Jesus dramatically intervenes!
The disciples were well acquainted with the danger of the sea, practically and from legend. In 1st century Jewish culture, control of nature was attributed exclusively to God.
At one time, there were signs on the west shore of Galilee warning drivers of what happens in high winds. The sea can become very rough, producing big waves that can swamp cars parked on what looked like a safe beach. Boats on the lake during a severe storm can get “suddenly tossed” around like toy boats—the sea can become ferocious quickly.
Mark 4:38: “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?”
In the presence of chaos, Jesus is so confident in the Father’s presence and power that He remains asleep on a pillow. The story contrasts the panic of the disciples: He was at rest—they were in distress.
Remember Jonah 1:5-6, who slept while the pagan sailors fought for survival on board the ship? The 1st-century reader would have remembered the story of Jonah. But Jesus isn’t fleeing—He is at rest! Perfect peace is discovered in the will of God, despite the storms of life.
The sea, for the Jews, came to symbolize the dark power of evil. Daniel 7 records the sea as the place where monsters came from! But Jesus, destroys evil, “for this purpose was He manifested!” (see 1 John 3:8)
The raising of Jarius’ daughter from the dead at the end of Mark 5:39, Jesus states the following, “The child is not dead but asleep.” Therefore, in the presence of Jesus, things may not be as they naturally appear. Hopelessness is an opportunity for a miracle!
Jesus is asleep—secure in the Father.
It doesn’t mean He is unconcerned about their situation—He is operating in peace. But the disciples awaken Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” They assume God doesn’t care about their storm! Yet, they forget (or are blind to) the times that Jesus has destroyed the evil that has come against them and others
Have you ever been in a storm where you thought you were perishing and God was asleep?
Perhaps a broken marriage, family problems, prolonged sickness or disease, or financial stress to name a few? During these challenging seasons, draw nearer to God. Go “higher and hotter,” let the sacrifice of praise fill your lips, read and declare the truth of His word, and remain steadfast in God—He will not fail you.
In Mark 4:39, Jesus, arises and silences the stormy sea, “Peace, be still!” The English word rebuked is from the same Greek word used to describe casting out unclean spirits in Mark 1:25; 3:12, suggesting demonic powers caused the storm. Not all storms in life are demonic in nature, but there are moments when we are “wrestling against unseen powers” bent on destroying your life or at the least hindering your walk and calling in Christ.
He then asks them, vs. 40 “Why are you so fearful (afraid)? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus reverses their question (“Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?”), putting them on the spot in a way Mark is using to build us up toward Mark 8, where Jesus once again confronts their fear and underdeveloped faith, “Don’t you yet have faith?”
The question “why are you so fearful” is in the present tense and could be stated this way, “Why are you afraid NOW?” In this story, and in Mark 5:15 with the deliverance of the demonized man of the Gadarenes, they are more AFRAID OF BEING IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS, the one who has control over nature, storms, demons, and disease.
Fear at the presence of God is nothing new.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the horn, and the mountain smoking, the people shook with fear and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we’ll listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we’ll die.” (Exodus 20:18-19 CEB)
The children of Israel and the disciples needed to renew their minds to the truth of the goodness of God by abiding in God’s Word and Presence. We are no different today! We also need to renew our minds and hearts to the truth of the nature of God by abiding in His presence and meditating upon God’s Word.
Overcoming Fear and Growing in Faith
Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” I have set the Lord before me continually—I am secure! Peter references this verse in his Pentecost sermon that resulted in the salvation of 3,000 (Acts 2:14-41).
Jesus said in John 16:16, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” We should expect to “see” the Lord, because the Holy Spirit has been freely given to those who believe!
The way we see (or perceive) the Lord is by following David’s example, “I have set the Lord always before me.” He reveals Himself to friends.
Many today focus on themselves, rather than upon pleasing the Lord.
As a result, there is a lack of confidence in the storms of life. When we “set Him before us always” making the pursuit of Jesus and His presence our priority, we won’t fear the storms OR His presence. Rather, we run to Him and are confident in Him when the storms come.
There is a “legal fear” in the Bible—it is the reverential fear of God. Not fear of judgment, but honor toward a Holy God who loves and cares for us. A reverential fear of the Lord helps develop understanding and faith in the hearts of God’s people. The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (See Prov. 1:7; Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28)
Don’t set the Lord aside for access just in emergencies! No, set the Lord before your face always—enjoy His presence, His Word, worship, and prayer. Live out of His being!
Jesus equated the disciples’ fear with faithlessness.
They lacked confidence and faith in the power of God working through Jesus. Why? Their hearts weren’t transformed by His presence and truth He had revealed to them.
Hearts can only be changed in His presence as you gaze upon His face and abide in His word. *Truth is active and alive, must be actively received!
Growth involves cultivation of the heart with the seed of God’s truth. It is watered by the presence of the Holy Spirit as you allow Him to lead you. The seed (God’s truth) has power, but the farmer must cooperate with the life in the seed.
It is a privilege to walk with God and to please Him.
Trials, suffering, and storms in life occur. Jesus’ authority is without limit, and though he allows trials, in the end, nothing can truly harm those who trust in Him. Remember the words Jesus spoke to the 70,
“Look, I have given you authority to crush snakes and scorpions underfoot. I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19 CEB).
The most repeated command in scripture is, “Do not fear!”
Why? Because to refuse to give in to fear disables the enemy’s strategy, which is to hinder or stop the followers of Christ from their mission—which is getting to the other side to liberate the oppressed!
When we refuse fear, we cause the enemy to fear!
When you don’t feel His presence, press into Him more!
Set Him before your face! Praise Him in the tough times like you would in the good times—you can do that when you have learned to set the Lord before your face always!
Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the video “The Book of Mark: Jesus, Lord Over All” from Passion Church: