Today, it is as we continue in our sermon series Mark My Words, looking at Mark 4:35-41, we transition from Jesus telling us what heaven is like to showing us the power from heaven, and in the process revealing the answer to our question of God: “Don’t you care?”
Let me read you the story: 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
You probably can imagine being on the boat, water lapping over the edges, soaking your clothes, going from trying to enjoy the ride to just enduring it. Heart racing—body shuttering with the cold and the wind, and it is in the midst of this horrifying experience that we find our first truth revealed: Jesus meets our true needs when all we can see are our wants (Mark 4:40) He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”FAITH? It is a matter of a flooded boat, not faith, right? What is Jesus talking about; a storm is a storm is a storm, seemingly indiscriminate in unleashing its natural power and fury, but instead of talking about staying afloat, Jesus refocuses his disciples, then and now, on FAITH—not a matter of avoiding the storm, but on focusing on the answer in the midst of the storm- FAITH. Jesus calls on us to trust in God when we seemingly cannot trust in anything else, not because he wants blind allegiance, but for a much more practical reason. James 1:2-3, reveals the result: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. The disciples had a clear want (to be rescued from the storm), but Jesus saw to the very heart of their need (faith which could pull them through the storms).
From time to time you hear about people persevering through hard work and determination, which is fantastic, they made it through one storm or another—like Albert Einstein whose high school teacher famously asked him to drop out because he had performed so badly, or author G.K. Chesterton, the English writer, could not read until he was eight years old, one of his teachers said if they opened his head they wouldn’t find a brain just a lump of fat.” They overcame, but what about when you face something you are unable to work harder to overcome, or study more to out think? The boy sobbed, “But Dad, I want my ball…” “You can play with your ball,” I said, “but you’ll have to go downstairs and get it yourself” Now the tears flowed. Tony’s playroom held the stuffed animals, toys, and games that four-year-old love. He spent hours there. But to turn on the basement light, you had to descend the darkened stairway, step into the shadowy playroom, then reach for the light switch. “Tony,” I said. “You know what’s in the playroom. Everything in there’s the same in the dark as it is in the light.” “B-b-but Dad,” he sniffed. “I’m s-s-scared of the dark.” “Okay,” I said. “I’ll stay at the top of the stairs so you can hear my voice while you go down. How’s that sound?” A grin replaced Tony’s tears.
He got up and bravely started down the stairs. Then, partway down into the darkness, I heard him hesitate. “Dad?” he called out. “Yes, Tony?” “Nothing.” Seconds later the light was on, and Tony was happily throwing a Nerf basketball through a hoop.
Instead of avoiding the darkness of the storm, we need to listen to the Father’s voice guiding us through it. It is a matter of relationship instead of avoidance. The disciples could have given speeches to the storm, they could have tried to study up on storms, they could have tried to hide from the storm, but truth be told, they had no power to overcome the storm. What Jesus reveals to us is that what they wanted wasn’t what they needed. The storm wasn’t the problem, their trust in God was. Sometimes, in this life, we get confused, we look at the struggles in our finances, spouse, kids, relationships, faith, and we say if I had more money, or different friends, or a better church…when all along, it is us that need to be changed, tested, and planted in Christ. We don’t need to run from the challenges; we just need to listen for the voice calling us through them. There is a common church sign that is put up from time to time: “Want a better pastor, pray for the one you have!” and we can adapt it, “Want a better marriage, pray for the one that you have!” “Want better friends or family, pray for the ones you have.”