And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:35-41).
This short passage is very instructive. It is an illustration of the Christian life which can be pictured as a voyage in a boat.
The unexpected storm
The disciples were sailing across a calm sea, when suddenly there was a great storm. Sometimes storms arise unexpectedly in our circumstances. Life may seem to be going along well, when all of a sudden something happens which takes us by surprise and upsets the calm. This could be anything from illness or injury to redundancy, failing an exam or a broken relationship. It could also be a spiritual storm, the realisation of sin and the need for salvation, or a time of backsliding in the Christian’s life. Being a Christian doesn’t make you immune to trouble. Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, but his presence did not prevent the storm from coming.
The disciples’ response
The storm made the disciples afraid and in their fear they turned to Jesus. This was the right response, but consider their attitude. Their words were, ‘Master, carest thou not that we perish?‘ In effect, they were accusing Jesus of not caring for their wellbeing. Often, when trouble comes this is our response. We turn to God, but our attitude is one of accusation – we question God’s care and wisdom in allowing the storm to have come into our lives. Instead we should be seeking God’s help in an attitude of submission and faith, trusting that he is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Jesus’s response in verse 39 was to stop the wind and calm the sea. Even though the disciples came with a wrong attitude, Jesus calmed the storm. This demonstrates not only Jesus’s power over all circumstances, but also his love for His people. He will hear our prayers even when our attitude is wrong, although sometimes he may delay his response to teach us this.
In verse 41 Jesus asks a question, ‘Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?‘. He had calmed the storm, but he now asked a question and in doing so gives a rebuke. The disciples had been with Jesus for a long time and had seen many miracles, yet this storm set them panicking. Jesus’s question teaches an important lesson – if Jesus is with us in the boat of life’s journey, then we have no right ever to be afraid. Even if a storm comes and God seems to be asleep and not taking notice of the trouble we are in, we know that He is still in control of every circumstance. If ‘even the very hairs of your head are all numbered‘ (Matthew 10:30) you can be sure that God knows and cares about every storm which comes into your life.
Is Jesus in your boat?
If you are a Christian then Jesus is in your boat. He will travel the voyage of life with you and at its end will be there when you die. You can be sure that he hears your prayers when you cry to him in the storms of life – spiritual and providential. This passage teaches us so clearly that Jesus has the power to calm these storms, to change circumstances and to bring us into calmer waters. However, we must remember that his answers will not always be instant, sometimes he delays, or answers in an unexpected way. He may give us peace and calm in our hearts in the middle of the storm, rather than taking the storm away. God knows what is best.
If you are not a Christian, then think hard about your situation. You are alone in your boat without Jesus to help you or to calm the storms that arise. If you feel your need of Jesus and turn to him seeking forgiveness for your sins then he will come into your life and sail with you as you move forward. However, beware, if Jesus never comes into your boat with you, then when the final storm of death comes you will be on your own. You’ll face God in the day of judgement alone. Without Jesus this is a storm that will cause utter shipwreck – you will sink and be separated from him without hope forever.
Is Jesus with you in your boat?[A00064 – 24/02/2018]