Passage- Mark 4:35-41
As evening dawned, Jesus invited his disciples to join him on a journey. “Let us go over to the other side.” (Mark 4:35) So they climbed into the boat and set off across the Sea of Galilee. You probably all know what happened next? “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” (4:37) This wasn’t any ordinary storm, but one that shook the very foundations of the disciple’s lives.
Well we are in a not dissimilar storm today with the Coronavirus pandemic. Life as we know it has been turned upside down. Many of the things that we took for granted are no more- freedom of travel, eating out, going for a pint, relaxed food shopping, watching sport, taking the kids to school, attending church and much more. It all feels rather weird doesn’t it?
Interestingly, Jesus was pretty relaxed during the storm on the lake, in fact, he was in the stern, “sleeping on a cushion.” (v38) So sure was Jesus that they would make it to the other side that he chose to have a kip. Today, Jesus is not sleeping, but he is in absolute control over the events of this world, including the virus epidemic. But the disciple’s didn’t know that and they totally freaked out in panic. They woke Jesus up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (4:38) They question Jesus’ care for them; His love and commitment to them. We can easily do that in tough times can’t we? “If you really loved me Lord, why is this happening?”
Well Jesus doesn’t take offence or sit them down for a pastoral chat. He acts in no uncertain way. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” (4:39a) The One with supreme authority speaks and what happens? “Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (4:39b) Most bodies of water would take hours to calm down after a violent storm, but Galilee was like a millpond, in a heartbeat. Jesus speaks and the elements respond instantaneously.
At which point some of you are probably thinking to yourself, “well why doesn’t he speak to this wretched virus and it disappear?” But Jesus wanted his disciples to learn something about him through the storm experience. So he asks them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (4:40) You see they were looking more at the circumstances than they were to Him. In the midst of this pandemic we can do just the same. We can be full of fear and anxiety, panic and dread. All we really want is an end to it and for life to get back to normal asap. It’s all about the circumstances. But Jesus wants us to discover something far greater.
The story ends rather strangely. You’d have thought they would all be high-fiving Jesus but they weren’t. Instead we’re told- “They were terrified” And the reason for their fear- “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (4:41) They were awestruck, not by the miracle, but by the man. The only one who can command the creation and it obey is the Creator. The only one with such power and authority is God himself. Go figure!! Mark begins his book- “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (1:1)
Points to Ponder
-We don’t know why God has allowed this pandemic and there is little to be gained by trying to bottom that question out. The question that we should all be asking ourselves is this- in the midst of the storm, who am I trusting? Jesus wanted his disciples to turn from their fear of the circumstances and put their faith firmly in him- the Lord of the storm! That’s what he wants us to do too. Remember he begins by saying, “Let us go…” He didn’t abandon them but was with them in the storm and he is with us too.
-The story begins with Jesus inviting his disciples to join him on a journey. He knew there would be a storm along the way but he knew that they’d get through it and safely arrive on the other side (5:1). Jesus calls us to follow him. There will be storms along the way, as we are all experiencing, but he will safely carry us through them and to the other side. As Paul encourages the Philippians- “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (1:6)
-The storms of life, like all trials, do have a refining quality to them although we’re not always aware of this in the midst of the trial. As followers of Christ, we will emerge from these months stronger in our faith in Jesus. This will be for God’s praise & glory.
Dear Lord God. Thank you that you are the ‘Lord of the Storm’ and that I need not fear. Please help me to not waver in my faith according to my circumstances but trust you whatever I might be facing. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit so I am never alone. Please use the present storm, uncomfortable that it is, to refine me and make me bear an ever greater likeness to your Son, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In his name I pray- Amen