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Calming the Sea Mark 4:35-41

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

Calming the Sea Mark 4:35-41

blue body of water under blue sky photography

Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

In this passage, Mark tells the story of Jesus calming the sea. This is a great miracle dealing with nature. The parallel references in the other Gospels are Matthew 8:18-27 and Luke 8:22-25.

In one of my favorite paintings, the artist has a sailboat sailing on a very rough sea. The wind is obviously high and the waves are crashing over the boat. The situation appears to be desperate. The sky above is dark with just glimmers of sunlight producing an orange and yellow glow peeking through the clouds. The sunlight suggests that the storm is about over, and the situation is not as desperate as it seemed.

I always have liked this painting because it reminds me of how Jesus calmed the stormy sea. It also reminds me very much of an experience Esther and I had on the Sea of Galilee.

During a trip to Israel, we visited the Sea of Galilee where much of the ministry of Jesus took place. One evening, we boarded “The Jesus Boat” and sailed along the western shore of the Sea from Beth Yigal Allon to Tiberias. The sun was just beginning to set. It was a beautiful setting, but as we sailed, my mind was on a matter back home and my heart was anxious.

The wind began whipping up and the Sea became a bit choppy. The Sea is 700 feet below sea level, set between the Golan Heights on the east and the mountains on the west. Sudden tempests can arise with the wind sweeping at a furious pace down over the Sea.

When this happened, I remembered how Jesus calmed the storm on this very Sea and brought peace to the hearts of the disciples. Jesus did the same for me! He calmed my anxious heart and brought peace to my soul. Jesus is the One who clams distraught hearts and brings peace.

In my next “thoughts” I will discuss peace, then, faith, and then show the relationship between peace and faith. We will focus on the fact that our Lord offers us His peace today. A brief testimony of how God brought peace to your heart would be welcome.

More Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus calmed the story Sea. From this, we can learn much about faith and peace. Today, we begin with some thoughts on the storm.
Jesus and the disciples were sailing from Capernaum, where both Jesus and Peter lived, to the country of the Gerasenes (Luke 8:26; Mt. 8:28, Gadarenes). They were sailing along the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Other boats were with them.

While they were sailing, a storm arose. Jesus was asleep (v. 38) “on the cushion,” and the disciples were afraid. To bet­ter understand their fears, we can take a look at the type of boat they were in.

At Beth Yigal Allon, we saw an ancient boat that dates, we are told, from the time of Jesus. It was discovered in 1986 between Kibbutz Ginosar and Migdal. Based on the study of construction tech­niques, ceramic chronology, and Carbon-14 analysis, the boat dates to the period of the time of Christ. It probably is the kind of boat Jesus and the disciples were in.

The boat is only about 27 feet long and 7.5 feet wide (8.2 x 2.3 meters) and could hold a maximum of fifteen people. Nor­mally, there would be only four rowers and one other person in the boat. Thus, it was a relatively small boat. A small boat in a storm is very much in danger.

Jesus and the disciples must have been in a severe storm. Some of the disciples, at least, were expert sailors who knew all about handling a boat and had been on the Sea of Galilee many times. No doubt many of them had sailed through storms on the Sea. Yet, they awakened Christ with this cry (v. 38), “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

When we look at the problem faced by the disciples, we see that there are two aspects to the storm. First, there is an external aspect. The wind was a furious gale and the sea was choppy. They could do nothing about this. They were simply caught in these circum­stances. Jesus solved the problem (verses 38-39). Mark says, “And be­ing aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became per­fectly calm.” Here, Christ took authority over nature and deliv­ered the disciples from their problems. The people in the other boats benefited too.

Christ is still in the deliverer! Every day, over our internal e-mail systems, we read many prayer requests. These are re­quests for people who are sick, who face financial difficulties, who can’t get visas, or foreign work permits, and many others. Many people take time to send through comments on answered prayer. This gives us an opportunity to rejoice with them.
Second, besides the external circumstances, there is an internal aspect to the storm. The storm caused the disciples to be afraid. They were inwardly anxious and feared for their lives.

Our text does not say anything about the calm that was brought to the disciples when the storm was calmed. None of the three gospels record this result. Probably this was due to the fact that Jesus immediately addressed the issue of their lack of faith. We can be sure, however, that the calming of the storm brought immediate relief to their anxious hearts. More in my next “thoughts.”

More Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, no doubt the disciples were calmed as well. We might ask, “Could Jesus have calmed their hearts without calming the sea?” The answer is a resounding “Yes.” In times of difficulty, He often does calm our hearts. Sometimes Christ delivers us from the external circum­stances, but sometimes He does not immediately do so. All of us hear reports of people who have died for their faith as well as testimonies of those who have been delivered from illness. Yet, even in dire circumstances, the peace of God is available to us.

The peace which God gives has both an objective and a subjective side. Let’s look at both. When we believe in Christ, we have peace in an objective sense. The apostle Paul declared (Rom. 5:1), “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Whether we feel it or not, this peace is objec­tively ours.

When we have believed in Christ, and have God’s objective peace, it becomes possible to have His peace subjectively within. Even though we know we have peace ob­jectively with God, we desire to subjectively have a sense of peace in our hearts. We want to have the feeling of peace to calm our souls and to make our lives more livable. Many, many times He has given us this peace.

God always is at peace in every way. He sees over the tops of all the mountains and has traversed the depths of all the val­leys. No matter what is happening, He is not frustrated, afraid, or nervous. He doesn’t quiver at the sound of turmoil. He does not pace the floor but takes everything in stride. Because we are His sons, He wants to share this peace with us.

In my next “thoughts” we will focus on the experience of the disciples, their lack of faith, and the meaning of faith and trust. All this will be a prelude to our later discussion of the relationship between faith and peace.

More Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

Mark tells the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. The role of faith, or lack of it, in this story is very important. Throughout His ministry, Jesus responded to faith and rebuked people who do not have faith.

The disciples, frightened by the storm, questioned whether or not Christ was concerned about the possibility that they might perish. Before we advance to what Christ said, let’s recall what the disciples had already experi­enced.

The disciples already had seen Jesus manifest great power and authority. In Cana of Galilee, they had seen Jesus turn the water into wine (Jn. 2:1-11) which demonstrated His power over nature. While in Cana, a nobleman from Capernaum came to Jesus to request healing for his son. Jesus sent him home with these words (Jn. 4:50), “Go your way; your son lives.” Soon Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum (Mt. 4:13) which is on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. He performed many miracles along the shores of this Sea. At Capernaum, some men let a paralytic down through the roof of Peter’s house to see Jesus. Jesus forgave his sins (Mk. 2:6) and then healed (Mk. 2:11). Thus, the disciples already knew that Jesus was powerful and that He cared for people.

Perhaps it will help us to think about faith and trust. Although these words overlap in meaning and are not mutually exclusive, they have slightly different connota­tions. Many years ago, I began to think about this. I felt then, and still do, that the word “trust” has a more passive connotation than faith. We trust the Lord even when things don’t go our way. It was the suffering Job (13:15, KJV) who declared, “Though he slays me, yet will I trust [hope, NASB] in him.” In contrast, we think of faith as producing the result for which we have prayed. We pray for deliverance and watch while God performs the miracle that we need.

How, then, shall we pray? Very often the Spirit leads us as to how to pray. He leads us to trust or to manifest faith. When we sense no particular leading, I think we should pray for a positive result and be ready to trust in God no matter what happens.

More Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus calmed the storm and the fears of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. As we think about this, we will turn our attention to the relationship between faith and peace. It is important for us to grasp this relationship so that we can live by faith with peace in our hearts.

First, faith produces peace. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. He rhetorically asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” This indicates that if the disciples had been able to manifest faith, they would not have been afraid. Therefore, we can say that manifested faith produces peace. When we have faith, fear is driven out and peace floods our hearts.

Based on my previous “thoughts,” we can say the same thing about trust. We are not depend­ent upon any given result for our peace. Our faith and trust re­sults in our souls being at rest.

Second, peace nurtures faith. The disciples heard Jesus speak to the sea (v. 39), “Hush, be still.” Immediately, the sea was calmed. The three gospel evangelists record the reactions of the disciples. Matthew records the astonishment of the disciples (8:27): “And the men marveled, saying, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him.’” Mark writes about the fear of the disciples. He states (4:41): “And they be­came very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” Then, Luke includes both the astonishment and the fear. He writes (8:25), “And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’” The danger was over. The disciples were astonished. The fear they had was simply the overpowering awe they experi­enced when Jesus demonstrated His power over the wind and the sea. Both the fear and the astonishment were forms of faith. When the sea was calmed, faith was nurtured in their hearts.

More Thoughts from Mark 4:35-41.

For several days, I have been posting comments on this passage. In this passage, Mark tells the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus did this, the disciples, who were on the boat with Jesus said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” To summarize my comments on this story, I will respond to this question.

Who then is this?

He is the One who submits nature to the will of God, who turns water into wine, who walks on water, who can multiply five loaves and two fish and feed five thousand people, and who has authority over the wind and the waves. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Who then is this?

He is the One who can heal the son of a nobleman who was at the point of death, who can cure the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law, who can heal the leper, the paralytic, and the blind man, who can deliver people from all manner of disease, and even raise the dead. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Who then is this?

He is the One who can cast a demon out of a mute man who can then speak, who can deliver a tortured boy from a deaf and mute spirit, and who can set free the Gerasene demo­niac from a legion of demons. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Who then is this?

He is the One who can forgive the sins of the paralytic, who can die upon a cross with forgiveness on his lips for his captors and persecutors, and who can pay the penalty for all our wrongdoing and sins. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Who then is this?

He is the One who has died, been buried, and risen again, who has ascended into heaven, who has been seated at the right hand of the Father, who has poured out the Spirit of God upon us, and who is coming back again to rule and reign over the universe. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Who then is this?

He is the One who can calm our fears, who can give us peace, who can instill new faith and trust in our hearts, who is with us even in the difficult times, and who has promised to be with us always even to the end of the age. He is (Mt. 16:16) “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Although we have followed Christ for many years, each day is an opportunity for us to commit ourselves anew to Christ in faith and trust. As we do this, we can experience the peace of God today as always.

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

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