Calming a storm is something we all need. There are little storms that would fit ‘in a teacup’ and others that we seem to live within for days, months, and even years. Jesus calms our storms, even when we remain in the middle of them. Following what was likely days’ worth of teaching to the public and explaining the parables to the disciples after, Jesus instructs the disciples to push off and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
It isn’t clear which of the disciples were along that day, but there were enough of them who were fishermen or lived along the edge of the sea to know the place quite well. So, they were obedient and pushed off without a second thought and headed into the sea, no preparations, possibly no food or water, just Jesus. With such long teaching hours for Jesus, he fell asleep. Jesus was sleeping on a cushion. Reminds me of his Humanity, doesn’t it? It sounds rather peaceful as I consider it now, sleeping on a pillow in the back of a rocking boat without a concern about where to steer, as that is someone else’s job. I can understand the nap. There were other boats with them, too, so the crowd must have followed along. Were any of those passengers sleeping, too?
These were men who were accustomed to sailing these very waters, and storms are quite common on the Sea of Galilee. They surely didn’t check the weather in the morning before sailing, as they didn’t have that facility. Yet, here the disciples are, scared witless by a storm. They are not far from home, on the water like many other days and a storm came.
Maybe now is also the time to remember that they were following Jesus. He said to head over to the other side and they obeyed. Yes, even, or perhaps especially, when we are following what Jesus requests of us, we encounter storms. Jesus is there, with us, just as he is there with the disciples in the boat. The boat was filling with water, probably being battered about by the wind. It seems likely they were grasping at anything to stay in the boat and not go overboard. They must have tried to turn back, row to shore, or adjust the sail to get out of the storm or off to shore. The boat was filling, so maybe they were bailing out the water, too.
How long before they cried out to Jesus? How long were they in the storm before they woke him? They must have seen the clouds form over them, the boat was filling with water, so some time had passed. They are terrified of the storm.
Then they are terrified of Jesus. Jesus stands and rebukes the wind and the waves. The disciples are now terrified for another reason.
They were his followers now for some time, still early in the ministry, but still his disciples. Yet they did not understand. Perhaps what they understood was Psalm 107 (paraphrased), where some went out on the sea in ships and they saw the works of the Lord. He stirred up a storm and the waves and winds were mighty and high, the men unable to stand. They cried out to the Lord and he stilled the storm and it grew calm as he guided them to safety. Psalm 107 speaks of the power of God. The disciples saw this power first-hand, and trembled.
Why are you so afraid and still have no faith?
I am invigorated by this Sea of Galilee moment. The power of God has come and been revealed, first in words of power of Psalm 107 and then in the story of demonstration in Mark.
Our God is powerful, no matter the circumstances around us, He controls them. We have to alter our perspective to see that Jesus is here with us, accompanying us; this is what we must believe, have faith in. The storm here stilled immediately, but our circumstances may take more time. Afterall, people are more hard-headed than nature. But both are a part of His creation and within His sovereign power.
The disciples were obeying Jesus’s command and found trouble. They got scared and lost focus on who was commanding their lives and their circumstances. We must remember Who is in control and let that knowledge ground us in faith and drive out fear.