Mark 4 contains one of my favourite accounts in this gospel, of how Jesus calms the storm (verses 35-41).
Jesus and His disciples are on Lake Galilee when ‘a furious squall came up’ (verse 37). This isn’t a bit of wind and wave that knocks you off your paddleboard … it’s a whirlwind – the stuff tropical storms are made of! As the waves break over the boat, Peter and the others think: ‘We’re going to die!’ (verse 38). Tells you just how serious and scary it really was – hardened fishermen, who spend their lives on the lake, are terrified … it’s as bad as it gets – the boat was ‘nearly swamped ‘(verse 37)! This is when the delusion that we are in control gets completely destroyed.
You won’t pass your Skipper’s Ticket if you said the best course of action in a whirlwind is to call the carpenter … yet that’s what they do! Jesus was asleep [note the detail you are given about the stern and the cushion which serves to remind us that this account is being recorded by someone who was there – eye witness testimony]. They woke Him, shouting: ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ (verse 38). I’m not sure what they were expecting Him to do – they surely didn’t expect Him to grab the helm and steer them out of danger? But, they had begun to see that this man was no ordinary man, even if they didn’t comprehend exactly who He is yet. In their fear, they cried out to the only One who could help!
‘He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down & it was completely calm’ (verse 39).
The sea normally takes days to calm down, but Jesus flattens the waves immediately. It’s impossible … but they saw Jesus do it … they saw that He has authority over the storm. The disciples knew from Psalm 89 that only God controls the wind and stills the waves … how is it that Jesus can do this too? Once terrified by the storm, they’re now terrified by the One who calmed the storm! ‘They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”’ (verse 41).
In the flow of Mark’s gospel, we are meant to be asking the same question, who is this? … who is Jesus? While we must read on in Mark to find the answer [spoiler alert: He’s the King with authority – authority over darkness and demons, over disease, and even over death; He’s the Christ who heals the sick, who feeds the hungry, and who ransoms captives free], at this junction Mark simply wants us to ask who is this?
It’s a great question … one that becomes deeply personal: who do YOU say Jesus is (Mark 8:29).
Our answer will reveal whether we do, indeed, have someone to call upon in the midst of the storm. Confident that when we are at our most vulnerable and fearful; He has the authority to control the wind and still the waves, authority to calm the storm. Confident to take refuge and shelter in Jesus because He has authority over the storm.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see who Jesus is, give us minds to comprehend that He alone has authority over our storms, give us boldness to turn to Him for our refuge and shelter, give us hope that He can and will calm the storm. Amen.