HAVE FAITH IN JESUS
Key Verse: 4:40
“He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”
In the past two messages from Mark’s gospel Jesus taught the people about the kingdom of God using stories that ordinary people could relate to. Even though Jesus used simple words and stories, I think most of the people who heard Jesus didn’t really understand what He was trying to teach them. Even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t quite understand what Jesus was trying to teach because they had to ask Him about the meaning of the parables when they were alone with Him. Of course, Jesus wanted His disciples to know exactly what He was talking about because He was going to send them out to teach others after He was gone. He wanted to give them the secret of the Kingdom of God, so he patiently taught them one-to-one. How precious it must have been for them to get this personal attention and teaching from Jesus, but we must remember that Jesus has not left us alone to try and figure out the Bible on our own. He has promised to give the Holy Spirit those who ask for it, and Jesus says in John’s gospel that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth; i.e. the secret of the Kingdom of God has been promised to us as well.
In today’s passage we see that even though Jesus had revealed the secret of the Kingdom of God in regard to the words He spoke in parables to the people, the disciples still not completely understand who Jesus actually is. It is true that they believed that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah because they had all given up their jobs, their families and their old way of life in order to follow Jesus and learn from Him. However, I don’t think they fully understood what it meant that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah. Today’s passage is very short, but it must not be overlooked because it further reveals what God’s promised Messiah really is. May God bless our study of this passage and help us to see Jesus for who He truly is.
First, “Let’s go over to the other side.” (35-38a) Verse 35 tells us that on the day that Jesus taught the people in parables and began revealing the secret of the Kingdom of God to His disciples, He decided to cross the sea of Galilee and go into the country of the Gadarenes and Gergesenes. The Bible doesn’t tell us the reason that Jesus wanted to cross over into this region, but some people think that it might have been to rest and spend some quiet time alone with His disciples since this region was mainly a Gentile region. However, I do not think this is the case. As Jesus once said to the Pharisees, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working,” and I think Jesus was continuing His work of revealing the secret of the Kingdom of God to his disciples. The first thing that I noticed about Jesus decision to cross to the other side of the lake is the time He chose to do so. It was in the evening as night was coming. It would seem reasonable that Jesus and His disciples would get a good night’s rest after a hard day’s work of dealing with large crowds. After all, they apparently had a house to sleep in in Capernaum. It is doubtful that they would have accommodations on the other side of the lake. This simple fact leads me to believe that Jesus was not just looking for rest for himself and His disciples. The second thing that I noticed was that Jesus and His disciples left most of the crowd behind, but “There were also other boats with him.” I wonder who was in those other boats. They could have been just ordinary fishing boats going about their normal business, or they might have been filled with people who wanted to follow Jesus and continue listening to His teaching. We simply can’t know who they were, but what we do know is that they would have been witnesses to the miraculous calming of the storm, even if they didn’t know that it occurred according to Jesus words.
Verse 37 tells us what happened after they started their journey: “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” Apparently, such “furious squalls” occurred often on this body of water because of the geography of the land surrounding it. However, this one must have been particularly bad because it nearly swamped (overturned) their boat and apparently even the seasoned fishermen that Jesus had called to be His disciples were scared for their lives. Perhaps the most interesting thing that I noticed as I read this passage is what Jesus was doing while this “furious squall” was nearly sinking the boat and scaring His disciples to death. Verse 38 tells us that “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” Either Jesus was an extremely sound sleeper, or He knew that all of this was going to happen and He knew how it would come out in the end. To me, it seems that Jesus wanted to go to the other side to get to this very point. He wasn’t worried about it at all, but His disciples sure were.
Second “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (38b-41) Some of the people in Jesus’ boat were experienced fishermen, so being in a squall on this lake was simply a part of their job. I’m sure that when they experienced one of these squalls, there was some amount of fear that they had to deal with, but it was never enough to completely paralyze them and keep them from doing their job. However, this squall seemed to be different. They got to a point in their fear that they did something that was very odd. They went to the back of the boat and woke Jesus up. Why would I say this was so odd? Well, Jesus wasn’t a fisherman, so what exactly did they expect Him to do? Their action may have been odd, but it shows us something about what they thought of Jesus. They realized that when their human ability ran out, only Jesus could get them out of the situation. They had seen Him do amazing things on the land – he healed the sick, drove out evil spirits and even forgave a man’s sins. He had saved so many others and they thought maybe He could do something miraculous here to save them. It may have been out of desperation that they turned to Jesus, but in the end they did just that – they turned to Jesus with a desperate plea to save them. Like the disciples we must learn to turn to Jesus to save us. However, we should not wait until the situation is so out of control that there is nothing else we can do. We should be turning to Jesus on a daily basis, both when times are good and when times are bad.
I also found it very interesting the words they used as they woke Jesus up. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” To the disciples it must have indeed seemed that Jesus just didn’t care about this situation. Their whole world seemed to be crashing down around them and Jesus wasn’t doing anything about it – He was busy sleeping peacefully in the back of the boat. They must have been asking themselves, “How can this be? I thought Jesus loved us more than all the other people.” After all, hadn’t Jesus chosen them from among the great crowds to live with Him and to learn personally from Him. Weren’t they Jesus’ closest friends. Yet in their time of greatest need, Jesus wasn’t doing a thing to help them. Or was He? I think Jesus was teaching them a couple of things. First, when there was no where else to turn and when their human abilities couldn’t help them, they could always turn to Jesus. Jesus is far greater than the greatest man. He was also teaching them that there is no situation that He could not save them from. And most importantly, I think He was continuing to teach them exactly who He is.
When they woke Him up, I don’t know what they expected Him to do, but I do know that they did not expect Him to do what He did. Look at verse 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.” Jesus simply spoke to the wind and the waves and commanded them to be quiet and still. While He was doing this, it must have seemed ridiculous to the disciples – what good is telling the wind and the sea to be still. If it were a normal human being doing this, it would accomplish nothing. But Jesus is not a normal human being. Jesus is God, the creator of the wind and the sea. If he created them by speaking them into being, of course He can control them simply by speaking to them. The disciples emergency prayer had worked – the storm was over and they were out of danger.
Now Jesus turned to His disciples and rebuked them. “He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” Jesus had already shown them many great miracles and they clearly believed that He was God’s chosen Messiah because they had given up everything to follow him, but they could believe that Jesus could save them in this particular situation. They had let fear overcome their faith. This is a common problem that I believe every Christian faces at least once in their life of faith. But we must always remember that Jesus is God, the all-powerful and sovereign creator of the universe and there is no situation that He is unable to save us from. John says in 1 John 4:18 “…Perfect love drives out fear…” Of course, John was talking in a different context, but having faith in the perfect love of Jesus should drive out all of our human fear. Jesus always cares about us and will always bring about what is best for us no matter how bad the situation may seem. We must believe that.
Verse 41 give us the final reason why Jesus wanted to cross the lake that night. “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” I just got through telling you that faith in Jesus should drive out all of our fear, but what Jesus did seemed to have the opposite effect on the disciples. However, I don’t see it that way. The way I see it is their unhealthy fear of the storm and death was replace by a very healthy fear of God, which the Bible says is necessary. They were finally beginning to understand what it meant that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah. It meant that Jesus was not just some extraordinary man, He was indeed a man who can command the wind and the waves – only God could do that. The question that I began when I started this message was why did Jesus want to cross the lake that night. I believe that Jesus wanted to cross the lake that night to teach His disciples and us who God’s promised Messiah really is.