How do you picture Jesus? Many people picture Jesus surrounded by a group of well-behaved children. Or, Jesus is holding a lamb or praying (usually with a halo over his head – just like you and me!).
When C.S. Lewis wrote Chronicles of Narnia, he portrayed Jesus as a lion called Aslan. In the first book, a young girl named Lucy is about to meet Aslan for the first time. She asks her guide, “Is he a safe lion?”
“Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
Following Jesus isn’t always safe – if safe means the absence of trials or challenges.
As we will see in today’s story, your faith is developed when it gets challenged by a storm.
In today’s passage, it’s a literal storm. It happens on the Sea of Galilee, which is nearly 8 miles long and 700 feet below sea level. It is surrounded by a ring of mountains. When the cold air from the mountains mixes with the warm air from sea, the result is one really bad storm.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. – Mark 4:35-37
What Mark refers to as a “furious squall” literally means great storm. It happened quickly and violently. So much water is pouring into the boat that it’s nearly overwhelmed with water.
This is no minor inconvenience.
- This is a diagnosis of cancer.
- This is your wife leaving with another man.
- This is a lawsuit that threatens to destroy you financially.
Jesus and his disciples are in the same boat, experiencing the same storm but with very different reactions.
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?” – Mark 4:38
Jesus is asleep. My first thought when reading this passage is this: where can I get one of those cushions! I’ve been told I’m a pretty sound sleeper but I’m not sure I could sleep through a furious squall. The disciples certainly weren’t sleeping – they thought they were going to die!
How do you hear their cry? Were they simply whiners?
Many of the disciples were former fishermen. Professional fishermen, to be exact. These are not some guys who owned a boat they used once or twice a year. It’s very likely they had encountered other storms on sea of Galilee.
Given the fact that they are in the boat with Jesus, they had obviously survived the previous storms. These are men you’d want in boat when storm hits … and they are afraid!
At some point, you will encounter a test or trial so severe that your background, experience, education, and training will seem inadequate.
Notice they don’t ask, “Hey Jesus, will you lend us a hand?” That would have been reasonable. After all, if your boat is about to sink, it might be an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation.
What they ask is, “Don’t you care if we drown?”
“God, do you care about my family?”
“God, why did this happen to me?”
This is a cry of fear, doubt, and abandonment.
This happens to me whenever I question God’s timing (he’s never too fast – it’s usually when I think he’s been slow to respond). My lack of patience then leads to doubting his goodness – which is another way of asking, “Don’t you care?”
How does Jesus respond?
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. – Mark 8:39
Best I can tell, nearly every miracle in the Bible is in response to a problem. Why does Jesus feed 5,000 people? Because they had no food! Why did Jesus give sight to a blind man? Because he couldn’t see.
Understanding this has changed how I look at problems. I can see my problem as a cause for concern. It’s a furious squall and I feel overwhelmed. Or … I can see my problem as an opportunity for God to do a miracle.
When I choose to see my problems as a cause for concern it’s often because I’m focused on what I CAN DO about the problem. I worry because I can’t bail the water out faster than its coming in.
For Jesus, the storm isn’t about your background, experience, education, or training … it’s about your faith.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:40-41
Our faith grows in the midst of the storm when we do two things.
- Remember Jesus is more powerful than any storm you’ll ever face.
- Trust that Jesus will always care for you.
Experience and Background
- 25 years of senior leadership in a local church
- adjunct instructor (public speaking)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
Need an engaging speaker for your event or conference? At the moment, I am available on a limited basis to speak for seminars, workshops, or worship services. Click here to learn more.
I’ve written a few books that might help! You’ll find books on preaching, leadership, Ephesians, as well as my first novel. Follow this link to learn more.