The Calming of the Storm

Mark 4.35-41


I used to be convinced that I was scared of heightsbut especially scared of going down escalators. This became especiallyproblematic when I moved to Canterbury and had to go back to Birmingham on the train. I soon became aware that actuallythe escalators aren’t that bad, especially once you’re on them. So, why was I so convinced that I was scared of escalators? Because my mum was. Well shestill is. It’s an absolute nightmarewhen we’re meeting in London!  

We are often influenced by others in our lives, weplace our trust in them, and I know that I figured ‘mum is scared of going downescalators so there must be something scary about them’. Afterall, it was my mum, the one who lookedafter me who was scared by them. So Itrusted her and her reaction to the escalators. 

There were often storms on Lake Galilee, they wouldjust start up and were quite terrifying. In this account Jesus had suggested that the disciples join him and theygo out on the boat on the lake.  

This is partly why the disciples were more scared thanusual, because they knew that Jesus was special, they had seen miracles that hehad performed, so why would he suggest going out on the lake if there was going to be a storm. Afterall, Jesus was theone who was guiding them, teaching them, caring for them. It seemed to be a bit paradoxical.  There are numerous occasions when an action issuggested to us, we participate because we trust the person guiding us, butthen it turns out to be scary or dangerous which then may lead us to question the guidance that we are receiving. Ifollowed the actions of my mum but actually there wasn’t the danger that I had envisaged. Similarly the disciplesfollowed Jesus but they expected it to be calmer than it was. 

Often people think that when there are scarycircumstances or suffering of some description that it is a punishment. This may have been the view of the disciplesafterall they questioned whether Jesus even cared about them. However, this story would actually suggestthat it was just a part of life. Jesus often went out with the disciples on the lake and there were often storms, itjust so happened that the two things coincided on this day. 

We see in the boat that when the storm rises not onlyare the disciples terrified but the carpenter, Jesus, is completely calm. We see his human nature of being physically exhaustedbut we also see that he is trusting the father. The disciples see his sleeping as indifference to them and to the stormbut actually that was not the case at all. In fact it is enough that Jesus was with them on their journey, but theyfelt that they needed him to act and to do something about it.  

Jesus did rebuke the wind, demonstrating something ofhis messiahship, in that only the one who created the wind and the rain wouldbe obeyed by them. Jesus then spokeharshly to the disciples asking “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” We see that the emphasis of thispassage is on who Jesus is, not on how he rescues.  

Donald English wrote in his commentary: 

“The crux of discipleship is located here. They needed him to do things: he wanted themto trust him. His very presence amongstthem was all that they needed to survive” 

Mark’s Gospel was written for communities who werefacing intense stress and raging persecution. Jesus often saw things in nature that others couldn’t see or that Jesuscould use as a teaching tool. Forexample the parables of the sheep and goats; the fig tree; and the sower to name a few.  

We all experience storms in life, they will range fromperson to person but what we can learn from this miracle is that if we walkwith Jesus on our Journey then we can rejoice in him and not in our circumstances. 

For many people it is their storms in life that makethem question their faith, you may have specific examples of this for yourselfand we see in these verses a demonstration of faith versus fear. Jesus wants the disciples to have faith in him, they want to have faith in him, but the storm, not surprisingly brings about fear.  

David Garland makes the point that it’s easy to becourageous when everything in life is calm, we may even claim to be deliveredwhen there is no sense of urgent deliverance BUT when things seem to be showing high pressure the courage and assurance of Jesus can fade from our minds and we can get caught up in the tension of the community around us. 

So what do we do when we face those storms? How do we make sure that we can keep a faithin Christ? I have to admit the last fewweeks have been difficult for me, for numerous reasons if I’m honest. What I find is that because my faith has beena part of my life since I was a child it is just there when I’m struggling aswell as when things seem to be on a high. As my faith has developed over the years I have found different ways tomove more towards faith than fear.  

This might be contact with friends; listening toChristian music; reading the Bible; or even going for walks ad recognising Godat work. 

There will be times when we need to ask Jesus for helpin our intercessions, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the direction that Jesus is givingto his disciples here is that they should have faith in him. They should haveseen the trust that Jesus had in the father as proof that they could have trust in him. Similarly, we should have theconfidence from what we have seen of Jesus that he will be a guide for us, he will be walking alongside us, no matter what is happening at the time.   

Jesus created the natural world and therefore hascontrol over it, that is not to say that everything is going to be perfect allthe time but through faith in Christ, when the storms come, no matter what they might be we can be placed in a calming environment, and we can be comforted by Christ.  

Storms are not just short events but can be a longpart of our lives. For example many ofyou will know that I have epilepsy which I have had since I was 11 years old.There have been a number of times when people have prayed for me, and when they have prayed for healing for me. It’s notthat I don’t believe that healing is possible but it is more that I have accepted that this is a storm that is part of my life. Yes it is frustrating, annoying and oftenpainful but it is also part of me.  

God did not only create the rain etc but he createdeach of us and every part of us. We might question why we are created in the way that we are but we also need faiththat God is in control. Where is Jesus calling you? Are you confident that Jesus is with you onyour journey? Do you have faith thatJesus will calm the storm? 

Sermon from Helen Netherton