(Mark 4:35-41 ESV ) " 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?""
“On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], ‘Let us go across to the other side’?” (v 35).
Jesus has been teaching all day. And he’s been using parables again to teach us. Remember the parable he just told about the seed that grows even though the man doesn’t know how? Or the parable of the mustard seed that is small yet becomes big? It’s a good thing he’s been explaining them to us, because so often it’s hard to understand what his point is. I’m glad he explained to us, his disciples, that these are parables about faith—the nature and power of faith.
As much as he’s been out in the hot sun all day, teaching and explaining things, he must be tired. I know I am. He’s got to be mentally exhausted. He is human after all. So, it makes sense that he wants to go across to the other side of the lake and have a break, away from all the people.
But it’s evening! Why do we have to go right now? The sun is already starting to set. I wonder if we shouldn’t just wait until morning. But tomorrow will be another busy day, and I know he’s tired and wants to avoid the crowds. I’m sure that’s why he wants to leave right now.
“And leaving the crowd, they took [Jesus] with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him” (v 36).
Good thing the winds seem to be favorable. We’ve fished these waters for years and know them pretty well. I think we’ll be able to get across without any problems.
It’s good that our boats are reasonably large. Jesus can find a spot in the back to slump down, lean against a cushion, and rest. That’s good. He needs to.
Well, we better push off. It could take a couple of hours to get across, depending on the winds. And we’d like to get there while it’s still evening time.
But “a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (v 37).
Where did this storm come from? These mountains around us cause such sudden crazy changes in weather. “Hey, James, John, give me a hand. We’ve got to tighten up the sail and keep a firm hand on the oars and rudder. This wind is really picking up.”
Oh, no! Now the wind is whipping up the waves. The peaks are starting to break right into the boat. “Hey, guys, start bailing!”
The waves are getting bigger. We can’t keep up by bailing. There’s more water coming in, faster than we can bail it out. There’s nothing more we can do; we don’t have any control; we’re starting to fill up with water. We’re too far from shore. We can’t make it back.
“But [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’?” (v 38).
Rabbi, this sudden windstorm arose and whipped up the waves, and we can’t keep up by bailing. How can you sleep through this? Don’t you care that we’re sinking? We’re all going to die!
“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (v 39).
How could this be? Just like that. Instantly. He speaks, and the sea is calm and there’s no wind. Creation itself obeys him. How can this be? Who is this man?
“He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’?” (v 40).
He said: I’ve taught you about faith in all the parables that I just explained to you. I’ve shown you the power that I have. Yet you still don’t understand who I am? You still don’t believe in me?
“And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’?” (v 41).
An uncontrollable storm quickly appeared, and Jesus, with his word, instantly calmed the storm and gave the disciples sudden peace.
It’s simply a routine check: all the usual tests. You’ve had them done before, and there haven’t been any issues. Sure, there are the usual warnings from the doctor about losing a little weight, exercising more, eating more fruits and vegetables. But there haven’t been any significant problems. No reason for concern. You don’t have any symptoms. You’re just going in for your annual visit. The winds are favorable.
And then you get a phone call after the appointment. There was a spot on one of the x-rays. You haven’t had any problems, but just to be sure, your doctor would like to run a few more tests. A windstorm has just kicked up.
And then another spot is found, and it seems pretty serious. They want to do a biopsy, and the waves get bigger and begin to break into your boat: What does this mean? How bad is it? Is there any treatment? Is there anything I can do? Should I start bailing? Would it do any good, or is it too late? Now, yes, it was caught early. There is a fair chance of success. But that also means there’s a fair chance of failure. The future is unknown, and the storm in your life rages out of your control.
In those times, in desperate—or even not-so-desperate—situations, turn to Jesus. He will never abandon you. You have been baptized and united to Christ. You are his heritage, and “the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage” (Ps 94:14).
Simply with the word of his mouth, Jesus calms the storms of our souls. We don’t know what the future may hold, but we do know that Jesus says he will always be with us. He says: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He is with you forever. He will never abandon you nor forsake you. He will guard you and protect you and watch over you. Therefore, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). God is on your side, and he will give you peace. In the midst of turmoil, he will grant you peace: “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side . . . then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. . . . Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 124:1a, 4–5, 8).
Uncontrollable storms appear in life, and Jesus, with his word, calms the storms and gives us sudden peace.
Everything in life seemed to be going well. The two of you were doing fine—no major problems or disputes or difficulties. You were enjoying life. The winds were favorable.
Then you get a phone call from the police. There’s been an accident. Can you come to the hospital right away? A windstorm has just kicked up.
When you arrive, you find out how bad it is. There’s nothing more they can do. And the waves are breaking into your boat.
The service is over. The luncheon is finished, and all that’s left are a few people cleaning up. You have a bag with some containers of leftovers, so you won’t have to cook for a few days. This is the first moment of solitude you’ve had since the accident. From the moment of that first phone call from the police, your life and your emotions have been a violent storm, sudden and vicious, raging out of your control. There in your car on the drive home, it first hits you. The storm of activity is now over, but the storm of emotions is just beginning. The storm of death changes everything.
Storms appear suddenly—on the sea and in life. We can’t prevent them from coming, nor can we always respond to them. Our lack of control, and the weakness of our faith, leads to fear.
But even though we can’t control the storms of life, Jesus can, and he did. Most important, he calmed the biggest, most vicious storm—the storm of death. He calmed that storm as before, with his words, with a simple phrase that he spoke: “It is finished.” And in speaking those words, there was sudden peace. In speaking those words, there was sudden peace between God and man. In speaking those words, there was sudden peace for us even in the midst of death. For in that moment, he had calmed the storm of death.
He continues to bring sudden peace to you even today. In his words of Baptism, he says, “Peace! You are mine.” In his words of Absolution, he says, “Peace! You are forgiven.” In his words that are preached, he says, “Peace! I will be with you always.” In his Words of Institution, he says, “Peace! You are forgiven and fed and strengthened.” Jesus speaks to you a word of peace.
In the Inevitable, Uncontrollable Storms of Life, Jesus Speaks and Gives You Sudden Peace.
Peace be to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.