At the end of a long and exhausting day, Jesus led His disciples into a storm. He and His disciples needed some time to recuperate. The best way to do that was to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee where they could get away from the crowds. So, He told them, “Let us pass over unto the other side” (Mark 4:35). They didn’t quite get away from everyone, because it says that as they left there “were also with him other little ships” (Mark 4:36). Have you ever wanted some time just to rest, but try as you might you had these other little matters nagging for your attention that just didn’t seem to go away? You’re in good company because Jesus had the same problem. Nothing a little storm couldn’t settle.
And as they went, “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (Mark 4:37). Storms on Galilee were a common occurrence and I am told by those who have visited that they can show up without warning. Such was the case for the disciples and the waves were so fierce that the boat they were in was filling with water and they were in danger of sinking. So, their panic was understandable.
As all this drama was unfolding around Him, Jesus was “asleep on a pillow” in the stern of the ship (Mark 4:38). We said yesterday day that Jesus is all God and when He took on human form, He also became all man. As a man, He could become tired and the activities of the day had left Him exhausted, so exhausted He could sleep through anything, even a storm in the Sea of Galilee. Have you ever had a day where there was a rip-roaring storm during the night, but you were so tired you slept through it? Then in the morning when everyone else in the house is going on about how bad the storm was last night, you’re the only one asking, “What storm?” That’s how the Lord felt.
He was so sound asleep, His disciples had to wake Him. The term “awake” means to bring to full consciousness. When they got Lord up, they said: “Master, carest thou not that we perish” (Mark 4:38)? Our Bibles make this sound like a calm and reasoned request but given the circumstances and the panic those circumstances would cause, there was probably a lot more tension in those words than a simple reading can convey. The key words can be boiled down to three: “Master! We perish!”
Always knowing how to put first things first, Jesus spoke first to the waves: “Peace, be still.” To put it another way, He said to the waves: “Cut it out!” And they listened. “And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39) – and no more little ships. That’s not to say they were destroyed. It’s just to say that as tumultuous as storms can be, they have a way of clearing your calendar, and if God puts a storm on your calendar, it’s for a reason. Storms upset things, yes, but they can also bring clarity. Other problems don’t seem as big anymore and you suddenly have focus on the things that really do matter.
After speaking to the storm, Jesus then addressed His disciples: “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith” (Mark 4:40)? Remember, this is the same Jesus who told His disciples: “If ye shall say unto this mountain, ‘Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea;’ it shall be done” (Matthew 21:21b). Wouldn’t that same mountain-moving faith also apply to mountains of water? (Hint: Yes!)
Did Jesus use the power of His deity to calm the waters? Yes. The question is, how did He access it? He answered that question in the question He asked His disciples. He did it by faith – the same faith in God that Jesus expects us to have. It’s almost as though He was telling them: “Seriously? You got me up for this? You could have handled it. You have access to the same God I do.”
The problem is, when we are in a storm and getting swamped, we think God is asleep and unaware when really, He is only a prayer away.