Thank you to Richard for this message

MARK 4: 35-41


What do you do when life goes wrong? When things don’t quite go as planned, what is your instinctive response? When life goes pear-shaped, what do you place your trust in?

Maybe what you trust is that somehow things will work out. Or maybe you back yourself; you have enough confidence in yourself that you reckon that you can sort things out. Then again, you may place your trust in other people; that if you can’t sort things out, someone else will. Or maybe when tough times come along, they simply overwhelm you.

So you might ask: what’s this passage all about? Why is this account so important? A boat in a storm. Fearful disciples. A man, who claims to be God, calming it. The reason why this is important is this: if Jesus can calm a storm 2,000 years ago; then it stands to reason that he can certainly deal with the storms in your life.

But firstly let’s deal with the elephant in the room. The sceptic, on reading this account, will conclude something along these lines: “Are you expecting me to believe that the wind and waves can be stilled by someone? That a storm can be calmed by a heroic figure? People may have believed that years ago; but not now. How can I take Christianity seriously if it is making claims like this?”

I would gently suggest that maybe there is another way of looking at this. Clearly no one is claiming that people can go around calming storms. In addition we do need to be careful with what CS Lewis described as “chronological snobbery” which goes like this: people back then believed that type of stuff; but not now.  But that simply does not fit in with this account at all. People didn’t believe then that people could calm a storm evidenced by the fact the disciples were terrified when Jesus did calm the storm.

And just one other thing if the “elephant in the room” is proving tricky; consider the unimportant details in this account. Jesus being asleep “in the stern.” Or that Jesus was asleep on a cushion. You might ask why that is significant. Well, it is significant because it is unimportant. We need to ask, why would the writer add these insignificant details? They add nothing to the account at all. So why add them? Answer: Because the person who has described these events was actually there. They remembered where Jesus was sleeping and what he was sleeping on.

So this just gives us some evidence that the events described in this passage actually happened.

So maybe rather than asking whether these events happened, perhaps the question we should ask is the same one that the disciples asked in verse 41; namely: who is this?

I would like to focus on three phrases in this passage as to why Jesus needs to be Lord of your life. And why he is worthy of your trust.

  1. He cares for you

The context of this is that Jesus in verse 35 states: He doesn’t say: “Let us go to the middle of the sea and drown.” Rather he says: “Let us go over to the other side.”

So what Jesus says is what ultimately happens.

But stuff happens! And these seasoned fisherman get caught in a storm and Jesus is sleeping through it. They are trying to keep the boat afloat and they have now forgotten the promise of Jesus as they battle with the wind and waves. In fact, they wake Jesus up saying (verse 38): “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown.”

So the disciples’ attention has been taken by the wind and the waves, the words of Jesus have been forgotten and their fear is that they will all be drowned.

When life goes wrong this is what happens. We worry now about what may happen in the future (whether that is today, tomorrow, next week or next year) and fill our lives with that worry which in turn relegates the promises of Jesus in the here and now. Worry and fear is like taking on tomorrow’s debts without any corresponding asset.

So how do we answer the question: “don’t you care if we drown?” Answer: 1 Peter 5: 7: Cast your burdens onto Jesus – he cares for you.

The nature of Jesus is that he loves. He is not indifferent to you. He is not like an independent assessor, unconcerned as to whether you are “in” or not. Think about it: why would almighty God go to the trouble of creating the heavens and the earth and everything that is in it, to see the ruination of the world by the very people he created only to come to earth as Jesus to save the very same people who have ruined it? And that was the plan all along. God knew you would need a saviour. God knew you would not have what it takes. So he came, as Jesus, to save you from yourself.

As Paul says in Romans 5: 8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Now you might ask – well, I’m going through a really tough time. Why does God permit this if he cares for me? In short – why do bad things happen to “good” people? If we look at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7) we will read about the wise and foolish builder. The wise man built his house upon the rock; the foolish man built his house upon the sand. But what happened to both of them? It rained? In other words bad things happen to wise and foolish alike. No one is exempt in life from good or bad things because of who they are.

We’ll come to this later, but for the Christian there holds out the possibility that there is great meaning in tough and challenging times.

2. He is master of every storm

So Jesus is woken up and in verse 39, the writer records: “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

What you and I need is not only a saviour who loves us but a saviour who is powerful enough. Graham Kendrick writes: “Meekness and majesty; manhood and deity; in perfect harmony; the man who is God.”

The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4: 15) says that Jesus understands you and yet this same Jesus is powerful to calm the wind and the waves.

You know what it is like: you have a problem – you get someone/something who has the wherewithal to deal with the problem. If you go to clean your toilet, you don’t put orange squash down it. You use powerful bleach. You need something stronger. In the same way if you are dealing with storms in your life – you need someone stronger.

I would put it to you that if Jesus is who he says he is, and he was master of this storm; then he can be master of the storms in your life.

3. There is purpose in trials

Look at what Jesus says in verse 40: “He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?””

I would like to focus on this word: “still”. Do you still have no faith? What does that mean? Jesus is saying: “do you still not get it?” “Do you still not trust me?” After all you have seen; after all you have experienced, do you still not trust me?

So this is about the application of faith. Have you ever thought that faith is like a muscle that needs exercising? If you don’t use (say) your leg muscles, then ultimately walking will become difficult. But as muscles are used, bit by bit they are able to do more. So it is with faith. The muscle of faith needs exercising.

So as difficulties come along, as they do, we need to exercise faith. Now – what on earth does that mean?

It means this. When difficulties come along, make it your priority to go to Jesus. And if you can’t, ask the Lord that your desire would be to go to Jesus. Spend time with him. We have been reading in Home Groups that the power of Jesus is experienced in his presence. St Paul talks about being “in Jesus”. Don’t panic but go to him.

Jesus is not aloof or standoffish. He is praying for you now. The writer of Hebrews says: “(therefore) he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede (that is pray) for them.” (Hebrews 7: 25).

For me when these troubles hit, often it is like this. I will say something along the lines of: “Lord – I haven’t got a clue what is going on. I don’t know how this will pan out. But I’m going to trust you in the here and now.”

And it is about saying: “Lord I give you this great burden I am carrying – this concern about how this or that will turn out. I give you my tomorrow. But I also give you my today. Would you use me in the today.” It’s a bit like reading a list of all that has to be done and feeling totally overwhelmed by it – then giving that to Jesus and then turning onto a fresh page where the agenda is Jesus’ purposes. It may well be that we are in the same place, doing the same thing – but this time with Jesus – but with different purposes.

So maybe someone telephones you asking to come immediately to a meeting that you really don’t want to go to. So use that “shock” as the alarm call to the muscle of faith. Immediately….pray: “Lord, give me wisdom in this meeting”. Or pray for individuals in the room. Or pray: “Lord, show me your will so I can do your works.” Move off the page of worry onto Jesus’ page of life.

Sometimes I think this is like climbing a mountain and really struggling. And it is as if Jesus takes us down a different track to climb that mountain but this time with him. We’re doing the same kind of thing; but doing it with Jesus not on our own.

In verse 41, the disciples ask: Who is this? How would you answer that? If the conclusion is that this Jesus is just an ordinary man; then we have our answer: these events did not happen. But if this Jesus is “God in skin” – then this changes everything, including how we view this passage. If he is who he says he is; then there can be no doubt he can calm the wind and the waves. And if he is who he says he is: then he can deal with anything in your life. And if he is who he says he is; then he needs to be Lord of your life.

Category: Sermons , Services , The Bridge

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