Mark 4:35-41 [text quoted below is NIV]
NOTHING causes a flurry of activity like a pending storm. When we here in the Northeast learn of a coming Nor’easter promising a large amount of snow… what do we do? Get prepared.
When folks along the seacoast learn that the forecast includes a hurricane in several days… what do they do? Get prepared.
Storms like these move in seasons. Between June and October, folks on the coast know that they should have an emergency plan, a supply of certain basics on-hand, and someone to call on to say “Storm’s coming, I need you.” Between October and April, folks in the north know to watch the forecast, and if that intimidating blob appears on the radar to our southeast, we make sure we have certain supplies on hand to weather the storm, and to dig out when it’s over.
Those are storms we can prepare for.
There are other types of storms, aren’t there? Some we expect – like rain in spring, or afternoon thunder in summer. Some storms we don’t expect – like tornados, which fall suddenly from the midst of another storm. Storm on storm. Life feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it? How do we get prepared?
The Sea of Galilee sits in the lowest part of the Jordan River Valley, surrounded by mountains. One of those is Mount Hermon. Much like the sudden summer storms we experience here in the Hudson & Mohawk River Valleys, storms will sweep down from Mount Hermon over the Sea of Galilee without warning. The pattern is the same today as it was in the time of Jesus. All who lived and worked in that area – especially fishermen, as many of the disciples were – knew that these storms could come up out of the clear blue sky. They knew to be prepared.
That is where we find the disciples. Following Jesus, they got in the boat and began to travel from the west to the east to get away – it had been a busy, busy day. They’d encountered demons, Jesus had a visit from his mother and brothers that was a bit difficult, they’d encountered crowd after crowd where the sick had been healed, the demons cast out, and people had come to understand the power of God in Jesus. The disciples were hearing parables – the Gospel in word pictures that they could understand – and learning every moment about Jesus, the Messiah. They were physically, mentally, and maybe even spiritually exhausted after a day like that. Jesus, as was his habit, chose to get away from the demands for a while… to rest, to prepare for what was to come.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 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?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
A whirlwind swept over them, and they were afraid. They were unprepared for this storm, and the one person they looked to for help, Jesus, they thought was unable to help… he was asleep.
The disciples understood that Jesus could heal the sick, that he could cast out demons, that he could explain the mysteries of God to them in words they could understand. They knew that they’d given up their lives to his service, that they would follow him anywhere………even into the coming storm. Yet, even in his presence they felt unprepared.
It was clear that they knew Jesus as Messiah, they knew his power, they believed he was there to save them, but they did not yet understand him fully as Lord of Heaven and Earth, of Wind and Waves as well as of their hearts.
Is Jesus your Messiah? Do you know him to be the Savior of your soul through his sacrifice of himself on the cross for your sins? Have you, like the disciples, given up your life to his service, and will you follow him anywhere he leads you?
I would venture to say that most of you here today would say that You know Jesus as Messiah. When the storms of life come, those we can see from far off and expect, and those which suddenly arise and overtake us unaware, is your Messiah asleep in the boat? Do you call to him in your distress, asking why he is unaware or inactive in your situation?
The God-man Jesus got tired, and he slept. The storm arose, the disciples were afraid as the waves threatened to capsize or sink their boat. Jesus was right there! How could he sleep at a time like this?
Do you understand that feeling the disciples were having? I know I do. When life gets tough, isn’t it common to feel afraid or alone or abandoned… even by God? Even the strongest of faith among us experience that from time to time. The disciples thought God was unaware of their circumstances. How often do we too limit God to our own understanding?
But the Lord of the Universe, Jesus fully Divine, fully human at once, was able to command the storm when the disciples called upon him. What happened there? When they asked to to help, to be Lord of their curcumstances, to be their preparation, their provision, Jesus acted decisively, divinely, to reveal his Lordship over all.
Do you know Jesus as Lord? Do you know him as Lord of all your moments, your storms and your calms? Is he your preparation, your provision in every circumstance? When we know Jesus as both Savior and Lord, we are prepared for every storm, in every storm, and after every storm. Have you asked Jesus to be the Lord of all your circumstances? If you do not know him as Savior, ask him for his graceful forgiveness; ask him to be your Lord. If you know him already as Savior, ask him anew to be Lord of your life. The storms will come. Be prepared.