In Mark 4, after a long day of teaching and most likely healing various diseases, and casting out demons, Jesus was exhausted. Mark tells us Jesus was in the stern (that is, the back of the boat) asleep on a cushion. He was in such a deep sleep that not even the sound of the wind and waves, and thunder and lightning of this furious storm could wake him. In fact, he was so out of it, that the waves of water crashing over the boat didn’t even make him stir. Now that’s a deep sleep! I wish I could sleep like that! I rarely sleep through the night!
Here in the storm with the waves about to swamp the boat and overturn it, the disciples wake Jesus and say “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (v38) and then in v39 Jesus says to them “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Don’t forget these are seasoned fishermen! You’d think that they’ve been out on the lake with squalls or storms like this before! Unlike the flat geography around Lake Okeechobee, the Sea of Galilee lies in a deep basin surrounded by hills. It’s known for treacherous storms that appear without warning… violent, life-threatening winds that funnel through the hills churning the water. Clearly this was one of those storms that could turn deadly if it overturned one of the boats and the waves sucked a person under. A perfect storm on the Sea of Galilee could do a lot of damage to a flotilla of old fishing boats and old fishermen!
The disciples had no peace… but feared the worst would happen! They had little faith. Not only did they believe they were going to drown, they also thought Jesus careless for not getting up to save them! The only positive thing to say about them is at least they knew to look to Jesus in the midst of the storm – they knew he could do something about it. How about you? Do you fear and fret… worry and stress… become anxious and panicky when life’s storms suddenly blow into your life? Do you fear the worst will happen? It’s so easy to react like these disciples and fear the worst – to think that you’ve been abandoned to succumb to what seems overwhelming – a riptide of emotions that can pull you down… fear that can paralyze you. Do you look to Jesus then? God’s grace and presence can overcome great fear. Jesus’ presence is calming and reassuring because (don’t forget!) all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto him! (Matthew 28:18)
So Jesus stands up in the turning and tossing boat and rebukes the wind and waves “Quiet! Be still!”. And it was so! Oh the powerful words of Jesus! Even the wind and waves obey him! Imagine standing outside as a hurricane blows through. Dark, dark clouds in the sky, rain pounding the roof, winds whipping the palm trees, debris flying through the air, flood waters rising in the street. Imagine a scene like that… and then Jesus stands up and says “Quiet! Be still!” And the wind dies down and all is calm. Who can do such a thing? Wind and waves obey him? Only God has authority over creation. This is power over nature on a far-reaching, grand scale! We’re not surprised by the disciples’ response: What kind of man are you, Jesus? We were terrified of the storm, yes! But now? Now we’re terrified of you, Jesus! (v41) And isn’t that the proper response even for us!