Mark 4:35-41. That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus along in a boat just as he was. Other boats were with him. A violent windstorm came up. The waves were breaking into the boat so that it was quickly filling up. But he was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to die?” Then he got up, ordered the wind to stop, and said to the sea, “Be still, absolutely still!” The wind stopped blowing, and the sea became very calm. He asked them, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?” They were overcome with fear and asked each other, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
I saw a couple of things that I don’t recall seeing before when I’ve read this passage. One was that there were other boats. The other thing that struck me was when it said, “They took Jesus just as he was.” What does that mean. Just as he was? Jesus had been preaching all day under the bright sunshine. He was probably hungry, and also sweaty and tired. “They took Jesus just as he was.” He was still in the same garments that he had worn in the heat of the day.
Now the sun was setting and the temperature was falling. Jesus had no robe to wear against the chill breeze that was pushed ahead of the storm. By laying in the bottom of the boat, he could avoid most of the wind. Tired as he was, he slept. He was traveling with men who were experienced fishermen. He trusted their ability to cross the sea.
A violent windstorm came up. I don’t know if this storm was a natural occurrence or the work of the evil one. Both are possibilities. Whatever the cause, this storm was so violent that these experience sailors were more than worried. They were terrified.
They saw Jesus sleeping and woke him. What did they expect of him? Did they just wake him to share I their panic, or to help pail water out of the boat? Clearly, they did not expect what happened next.
What happened next frightened them possibly more than the storm. He commanded the wind and the waves to stop, to become perfectly calm. And then … and then this man who spoke and wind and waves obeyed, looked each of them up and down and pronounced them to be cowards. “Don’t you have any faith yet?” These were his chosen. The men with which He would begin a spiritual revolution. How disappointing to realize that, in spite of his teaching and the mighty signs he had show them, they still lacked the faith that he would protect them.
Now we jump ahead a short time and witness another storm pin the sea.
Mark 6:45-52. Jesus quickly made his disciples get into a boat and cross to Bethsaida ahead of him while he sent the people away.
Jesus was not done serving the people, but it was getting late so he sent the disciples out onto the sea to Bethsaida to make the way ready for him.
After saying goodbye to them, he went up a mountain to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Once everyone was gone, Jesus went up the mountain to pray. I would love to hear those prayers. When Jesus spoke to his father. I imagine it to be something like this, “Hey, papa, such men you gave me! Children, all of them! They make me laugh and they make me cry. I’ve told them in a hundred different ways what the future holds and what I expect of them. But they hear with their ears only. It’s not sinking in to true understanding. Look at them.
Jesus saw that they were in a lot of trouble as they rowed, because they were going against the wind.
Jesus continued his conversation with the father. Look at them. A short time ago they, in a different storm, were in such a panic they nearly wet themselves. But look. Though the wind and waves are again against them, this time they are battling on, pulling together on the oars. They don’t know it yet, by but the time is coming when they will need that perseverance. But I’d better go out there to them. Love you, Dad. Talk to you soon.
Between three and six o’clock in the morning, he came to them. He was walking on the sea. He wanted to pass by them. When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought, “It’s a ghost!” and they began to scream. All of them saw him and were terrified. Immediately, he said, “Calm down! It’s me. Don’t be afraid!” He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped blowing.
Can’t you just hear Jesus under his breath saying, “See, Dad? Children.”
It appears to me that, though Jesus was watching over them, it was his intent that they continue to struggle under their own power … or use the power he, had given them. The author said that they still did not understand, that their minds were closed.
How many storms in our lives do we have to go through before our minds are opened and we understand what Jesus is teaching us? We need not fear the storm, if we trust in him. If we truly trust in the Lord there are only two possibilities. He will either see us safely through life’s storms or he will call us home. That’s a win win.
©2021 Thomas E. Williams