These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Open your Bibles to Mark 4:35. We are back in the gospel of Mark. We are learning about what it means to follow Jesus and who we are following. Today, we are going to see the disciples follow Jesus into a storm and in the storm learn some things about Jesus, about ourselves, and about the storms we face in life.
Mark 4:35-41, As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (NLT)
Every person here has what I call “Storm theology.” Storm theology is what you believe about God when storms come into your life. When a crisis comes into your life is God a good God or a bad God for allowing it to happen? When you pray during the storm do you see God as caring or uncaring based on how He answers? Storm theology is what you believe about God when things seem to be going horribly wrong. Listen carefully, storms in life have the ability to bring to the surface what’s really inside of you. Storms will reveal to you whether you live by fear or by faith? Storms will reveal to you if your heart is full of trust or doubt. The way we react to God during a storm reveals the truth about ourselves, whether we want it to or not.
Let’s dive into this and let’s get the context of this miracle where Jesus calms the storm. After sharing some of the Lord’s parables with us, Mark now gives us four miracles that demonstrate his divine power and is more evidence that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
- Mark is going to show us Jesus’ power over nature (Mark 4:35-41),
- His power over demons (Mark 5:1-20),
- His power over disease (Mark 5:21-34),
- and power over death (Mark 5:35-43).
Let’s get started. What do we learn.
Storms are test
Number one, storms are test. It is during the storms of life you discover what you really believe. Storms have a way of revealing the truth about you. Verse 35 says, As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).
The storm that is about to happen occurred at the end of the day, “as evening came.” This had been a busy day for Jesus.
- The day started back in Mark 3:20 where he had a confrontation with some Pharisees who said that Jesus was possessed by Satan and said that is where He gets His power to do the miracles. They also accused Him of blasphemy which was punishable by death. This was a fierce and adrenaline pumping confrontation.
- Then Jesus’ brothers came to see him and try to take Him away because they thought He had lost his mind. Now you have tension with the family.
- Then Jesus spent the rest of the day teaching. He taught the crowds in parables and privately explained them to His disciples. He taught about the parable of the farmer scattering seed, parable of the lamp, parable of the growing seed, parable of the mustard seed and a host of others. This continued throughout the day under the heat of the sun.
This had been a busy day and emotionally draining day for Jesus. However, for the disciples they had a front row seat to the teachings about God’s kingdom and to the miracles Jesus had performed.
Jesus had been teaching the disciples with what He said and what He did, but now Jesus would give them a practical test to see how much they had really learned. After all, the hearing of God’s Word is intended to produce faith (Rom. 10:17) and faith must always be tested. It is not enough for us merely to learn a lesson or be able to repeat a teaching. We must also be able to apply that lesson by faith, and that is one reason why God allows for trials, difficulties, and storms to come into our lives. Storms are the tests and opportunities to demonstrate your trust in God.
Before we move on, look closely at what Jesus said in verse 35, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” I know that literally, Jesus is talking about getting in the boat and going to the other side of the lake. But His statement reminds me about the “other side” of life. On this side of the lake Jesus had performed miracles, confronted the Pharisees, taught about the Kingdom of God, the crowds are growing and everything is looking good. On this side, the disciples faith and trust in Jesus has been easy and fun, but on the “other side” they are about to be tested. They don’t know it, but a storm is coming on the other side. On this side things are going well, but on the “other side” things are about to get tough.
- The “other side” of good health is illness. How will you respond? Your faith is going to be tested on the “other side.”
- The “other side” of the honeymoon is a broken relationship. How will you respond? Your faith is going to be tested on the “other side.”
You get the idea. Storms are a test. Those test occur on the “other side” of life.
Storms can happen suddenly
Number two, storms can happen suddenly. Verse 37 says, But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Let’s get a clear picture of what’s happening here.
- The Sea of Galilee is somewhat a small body of water. It’s about 13 miles wide and 7 miles across and 150 feet deep. What makes it unusual and sometimes dangerous is that it is about 700 feet below sea level and its surrounded by mountains. What you have is warm air over the lake and cold air that comes over the tops of the mountains and down into the lake. When that cold air and warm air mix you get storms. These storms can develop in minutes.
- Did Jesus know this storm was coming? Absolutely. This storm was part of today’s lesson for the disciples. Jesus was going to use it to teach them some things about Himself and about themselves.
- Mark describes this event as a “fierce storm” so much so that “waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.” These were hurricane like winds. When Matthew describes this event he says a “violent storm” (Matt. 8:24) arose. The word “violent” comes from the Greek word seismos which we get our word earthquake from. For Matthew, it was like the sea was shaking!
This fierce and violent storm happen suddenly. That’s the way life is. One moment you are doing fine and the next the bottom falls out. One phone call and you find yourself in the middle of storm. One doctor’s visit and you are in a storm. One conversation and you are in a storm.
God does not try to trick us with this. He is not trying to hide something. God is upfront and honest about the storms of life.
- Job was praying to God in Job 14:1 and he mentioned how life is “full of trouble.”
- Jesus said in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”
Storms of life are a reality of life. And storms happen suddenly and those storms will test and reveal your faith and spiritual maturity.
Storms can cause you to doubt God
Number three, storms can cause you to doubt God. Verse 38 says, Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” There is a fierce and violent storm occurring. The sea is being shaken. The hurricane like winds are blowing the boat all directions, the waves are crashing over into the boat, the boat is filling up with water, the disciples (who are experienced fishermen and know the sea) are yelling do this and do that. They are in a panic. They are thinking they are about to die… and where is Jesus? He is “sleeping at the back of the boat… on a cushion.”
- I think this is an incredible picture of the Incarnation of God, where we see both aspects of Jesus. We see the humanity of Jesus and the deity of Jesus.
- The humanity of Jesus is seen in the exhaustion of Jesus. Beginning that morning Jesus has dealt with the Pharisees, taught numerous parables, dealt with the crowds, dealt with the disciples, dealt with the heat of sun all day and when he had a chance to sleep he took it. He was sleeping so hard this storm didn’t even wake him up. He was totally exhausted! This is a picture of the humanity of Jesus.
- The deity of Jesus will be seen in His power over the storm. He is about to display His omnipotence and power over nature as the creator of it.
- So here you have an incredible picture of both the humanity of Jesus and the deity of Jesus for all to behold. You have God in the flesh. You have the incarnation of God.
So we are told The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
- First of all, their concern about drowning was completely normal and reasonable. These were professional fishermen. They knew how to handle a boat during a storm, but this storm was fierce and violent and they believed they were going to die because of it.
- What the disciples don’t know is that this storm is going to be used by Jesus to teach them some incredible things about Himself and about themselves. This storm had become the real classroom for their spiritual education. It’s one thing to learn something about God or yourself sitting in a church service, it’s another thing to learn something about God and yourself when you lose a loved one, you are let go at work, when you can’t afford your bills anymore, when your health begins to leave you or when your marriage falls apart. Some lessons can only be learned in the middle of the storm.
- We are going to come back to this question by the disciples in a moment, but just know that the storms in life will cause you to doubt God.
Storms teach you about God
Number four, storms can teach you about God. Verse 39 says, When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
- The way Jesus “rebuked the wind” may be an indication of who was behind the storm. This rebuke by Jesus is the same rebuke He gave a demon back in Mark 1:25. It could be that this storm was an attack by the kingdom of darkness to kill Jesus and His disciples.
- There are cases in the Bible where the devil used weather to bring destruction upon people. For example, in Job 1:16, the devil used a lightning storm to kill Job’s sheep and servants. Then in Job 1:19 the devil used a “powerful wind” to destroy the house that all of Job’s children were in that resulted in all of their deaths.
- It’s possible, that this unexpected storm that came about right after they were in the middle of the sea was an attack by the devil himself.
- Whether it was of the devil or not the result was the same, “suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm.” Jesus commanded, “Silence! Be still!” and immediately the storm obeyed. Jesus had just demonstrated His authority over nature itself. The disciples are beginning to learn more about who this Jesus really is. There had never seen this display of power before.
- Listen carefully, when you are in the middle of a storm, it is there that God can demonstrate who He is very clearly if He so chooses. There are a lot of lessons we learn about God in the middle of the storm.
Storms teach you about yourself
Number five, storms can teach you about yourself. Verse 40 says, Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” A fierce storm comes out of no where during the night. Jesus was sleeping from exhaustion. The waves start crashing up against the boat. The sea starts pouring in the boat. The disciples have lost control. They begin to fear. They can’t believe Jesus is still asleep through this so they go to Him shouting at him to wake Him up and when He awakens they say, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Jesus immediately rebukes the wind and waves. They obey, the sea becomes like glass and then Jesus turns and says, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
- Their concern about drowning was normal and reasonable. The Lord’s rebuke and question about their fear versus their faith is not about their concern of drowning, which was legitimate. The Lord’s rebuke is not about their reaction to the storm, but their reaction to Jesus in the storm. They asked, “Teacher, don’t you care…?” They called Jesus “teacher” not Lord. So their understanding of Him was not where it needed to be and instead of asking, “Lord, can you help us?” They questioned His love and concern for them. This is the temptation when we become afraid. Because of the storm in our life we see God as less than He is and we doubt His love and care for us. That’s exactly what the devil wants you to do. Their fear blinded them to who Jesus really was.
You will learn something about yourself in the middle of a storm. You will learn where you faith really is.
Storms will stretch your faith
Number six, storms will stretch your faith. Verse 41 says, The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” Up to this point, the disciples knew Jesus was special and unique and that God was working through Him. However, this event started a significant paradigm shift in their thinking about who Jesus really is. Prophets of the past had perform various miracles like healing the sick, cleansing lepers, and even dividing the Red Sea but this seem completely different. This is the type of power reserved for God alone (Ps. 89:8-9; 104:5-9; 106:8-9; 107:23-32). “Who is this man?”
Here is the reality. You are either headed into a storm, in the middle of a storm, and coming out of one. Learn from your storms. God is teaching you something about Himself, about you, and about the storms of life. You have a storm theology, let’s refine, improve it, and use it. See the storms of life as an opportunity for God to display who He is.
- When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about. You will see Jesus differently and you will see yourself differently.
- There are some things you can only learn in a storm. So learn them.
- Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear a path. Some storms help you to see some things more clearly.