Read This Page in My Language
A picture is worth a thousand words. I want to start by reading verse 37 from four different Bible translations. You will notice they all say the same thing just in slightly different ways.
First the NIV: “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.”
Next the EHV: “A great windstorm arose, and the waves were splashing into the boat, so that the boat was quickly filling up.”
Now the NASB: “And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.”
And finally, the CSB: “A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.”
Do you have the picture in your mind? Basically, what it is saying is that because of the storm the boat kept filling with water. And then the thought that comes to my mind, at least: “That is a pretty good picture of life.”
Does life ever seem that way to you? “The boat kept filling with water.” One problem after another. One wave after another. You toss the water out of the boat only for it to come right back in. You see, life often challenges the believer’s faith. Like a furious storm on the open water that causes the disciples to accuse Jesus by saying, “Don’t you care if you drown?”
Why does God put us into situations that tempt us to doubt him rather than to trust him? For, make no mistake, God is the one who sends this storm on the Sea of Galilee, not the devil. God purposely puts the disciples into a challenging situation so as to strengthen their faith, not to destroy it. Because it is through the testing of faith that God causes our faith to grow.
If you think about it, all the outward evidence on the lake that night argued against the disciples trusting Jesus. The wind. The waves. Jesus was sleeping. I still don’t understand how Jesus remained asleep if the water was that tumultuous, but when people are tired, the body shuts down. And Jesus was exhausted from the day’s work.
The fear of the disciples, then, came not from the fact that Jesus wasn’t present, but that they thought he wasn’t aware, and even worse, that he didn’t care. The fear came because the disciples realized they couldn’t do anything about their situation, and for the first time they thought that perhaps Jesus couldn’t either.
Do you ever doubt that Jesus cares? It’s not that you don’t believe in God, but you wonder whether he is even aware of your situation or if it matters to him. So you live life as if God weren’t aware of your situation because you reason, “he doesn’t really concern himself with those types of things”, and so for all intents and purposes you’re on your own. But after a while you realize that the storms and challenges of life are too great for you to overcome–that the storms and challenges inside of you are too great to overcome! And that is when the anger sets in. And that is when the accusations start to fly. We blame others for the storm raging inside of us, and yes, we even get to the point where we blame God.
“God, don’t you care? Because if you did, life wouldn’t be such a raging mess!”
Well, God DOES care. In fact, he cares enough to TEACH you how to trust him. You see, God knows that as long as we are trusting in ourselves, we are doomed. Furthermore, he understands that our hearts by nature are so resistant to trusting him that even when life makes it so obvious that we have no power, we still turn to ourselves rather than to God. And then when things don’t go the way we want, we blame him. We don’t blame ourselves.
So, like children, God must teach us: “You think you know everything. You think you can do everything, but you can’t! And … that’s okay. Because you have a loving Father, and he’s proven that to you by sending you a loving Savior. And so let’s just be done with this notion that God doesn’t care.” St. Paul writes, For if God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also graciously give us all things along with him?” (Romans 8:32).
Here is something that we all do well to take to heart. We must LEARN to trust in God above all things. Spiritual maturation is a process. Salvation is not a process. Jesus died once for all. But grasping that truth to the point that we fear, love and trust in God above all things is a process that will never end until we are in heaven. Testing is the way God teaches us, and the tests he sends us come from the school of life.
So, Jesus tests the disciples. Do they fail the test? Well, I don’t think it’s so much a pass or fail test. It’s what the disciples learn as a result. That is what matters. And that is the reason why God does it–so that after the test, the believer is absolutely convinced that nothing, and I mean nothing, can separate us from the love of God, and that Jesus is God! Therefore, I can trust him!
Listen to what Mark writes: “Jesus himself was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” Then he got up, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The wind stopped, and there was a great calm” (vv. 38, 39).
Only Jesus can calm the storm. That is the lesson. And the application is that only Jesus can calm the storms of your life. Ask yourself: What is your Sea of Galilee? Where do the storms suddenly rise up in your life? Are they outside of you, as in your marriage or other relationships. Or are they inside of you as in the raging of anger, frustration, sadness, and depression? How old are you? Have you learned the lesson yet that only Jesus can calm the storm?
You see, it’s telling that so many in today’s world turn to secular counseling, secular education, secular pleasures, and a secular lifestyle in order to calm the raging storm inside of them. We as Christians also live in this world, and so, we get caught up in this type of thinking too. How do you know? Well, you know when the suggestion to pray and be diligent in Bible study and worship is a suggestion that you just kind of dismiss. Your eyes glaze over when you hear people say that. You say to yourself. “No. I need real answers.”
Well, the disciples needed real answers too. Where did they find them? Only in Jesus. Right? For only Jesus can calm the storm. That is what God spends our entire life trying to get us to believe. You say, “I do believe that.” Yes, you do. But every one of us has room to believe it more. That is what we learned last Sunday–that God is in charge of your growth. We may think we are ripe and mature. God knows where we really are along the spectrum. And as long as we are still alive he is still getting us where he wants us to be.
Like the disciples. [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still lack faith?” (v. 40). It’s not that they didn’t have faith. It is that they still lacked faith. Are you humble enough to admit that you still lack faith? Am I? For his promise is that he will take us to heaven when he deems we are ready. But until then, he asks us to trust him. How can we trust him?
Well, think of your past life. What phases can you point to that brought about the most growth? Were they the good times, or were they the more challenging times? I can only speak for myself, but they were definitely the more challenging times. The times I would never want to go back and repeat, but at the same time I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m not bitter about them. Because I know that I am who I am today as a result.
Think of Peter, James, and John. Their future as apostles was going to be full of storms. How were they going to stay faithful, trusting in Jesus until the very end? Because they could look back to the past and remember that when they thought it was all over, when they thought there was no way out, God was there, and God got them through it. He cared. And so, he cares even now.
John even says this in his Gospel, John 1:14 “We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” You see, John wrote those words much later in his life. But he never forgot. Could you?
They were filled with awe and said to one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” (v. 41).
My prayer is that this text strengthens your faith in God. He is our Rock and our Mighty Fortress, as Psalm 46 says. If the wind and the sea obey him, how much more can we? He didn’t die for the wind and sea, but he did give his life for you! He has forgiven you for all the times you prosecuted him with your accusations and questions. And so, whether storms rage within or without, just be still, be patient, and know that he alone is God. Not you. And it is a good thing that he is! Amen.