1. Stormology 101: From Theory to Trust through Life's Storms (Mark 4:35-41)
See the Stormology Series Description for more information on this lesson.
Some years ago I was on a flight from Puerto Allegre in the far south of Brazil to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I was sitting in the middle seat of the bulkhead row between a missionary buddy of mine and a woman who seemed to want nothing to do with a gringo and who sat as far away from me as she could.
After a while, the flight began to get rough, and the crew took away the beverages and discontinued the food services. The flight got rougher and rougher. Suddenly, out the windows we could see lightening, and we realized that this was not a matter of rough air pockets. We were flying through a thunderstorm!
We were flying the Brazilian national airline, Varig, who, at that time, used china and silverware in every class of service. The plane was bouncing wildly, and this meant that the china clashed and the silver crashed every time the plane bounced, adding frightening noise to the flashing lightening and the wild gyrations.
People began to scream and call out with each jolt. Fingers were flying as the rosary beads were put to intense use. The stewards were passing through the aisles seeking to calm the passengers. And the woman who wanted nothing to do with me was involuntary grabbing my arm each time the plane dropped.
All told, from the time we entered the storm until we were completely out of it, we spent fifteen minutes bouncing around, although the worst part probably lasted only about eight minutes, and we arrived safely in Buenos Aires pretty close to schedule.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we lose control in a storm?
As long as life is going the way we want it to go, we feel as if we are in control and that gives us a great sense of security.
In fact, we work very hard all our lives to be in control.
Unfortunately, that feeling of control gives us a false sense of security.
There are two problems with control.
POINT #1: Control is a myth.
- QUESTION: How can any of us be in control of life?
- QUESTION: What can we do to control what really matters?
- DEVELOPMENT: Can we control our breath? Or our hearts?
How about our children?
- ASSERTION: Well, obviously, we can control our mates. Right?
POINT #2: God is against it.
- BALANCE: Of course there are aspects of life we can and should control—
even our time to a significant degree.
- RESTATEMENT: But our lives?
- ASSERTION: No way!
All it takes is one storm to show us we can’t control life.
That’s exactly what the disciples discovered in Mark 4 when they experienced Stormology 101.
Storms teach us we are not in control of life.
It is now that we encounter the first of the storms which the disciples faced.
Up until now, the disciples have been observers and not participants.
They have listened to Him, watched Him, observed what He did and how others responded to Him, but no demand has been placed on them.
All of this is about to change. Jesus does not allow us to be spectators; He demands that we make decisions about Him, that we commit ourselves to Him.
Today we are going to see three observations from Mark 4:35-41 that help us understand Stormology 101.
Our first observation tells us that:
I. Jesus Directs His Disciples to Go to the Other Side of the Lake.
1 He has spent a long day teaching both the masses and the disciples.
a. Apparently, He taught the masses from the boat (4:1) using that as a platform to present all of His parables to them.
b. Then He turned to the disciples and taught them out of the hearing of the crowd.
c. But the crowd stayed there wanting more time with Him.
d. Perhaps there were many sick or struggling or demonized people who longed for His touch.
e. Our Lord was exhausted, as we shall see, and He did not want to land in the midst of the crowd, so He directs them to set out for the other side.
2. They respond immediately (4:36).
a. They do not get out of the boat at all.
b. They simply take off for the other side (the eastern side) of the Sea of Galilee.
c. At that, they cannot get away from pursuers as other boats go with them.
Now I need to ask you a question.
What did Jesus intend to do when He said, “Let’s go over to the other side?”
Go over to the other side!
3. While they are crossing the Sea, perhaps just as dusk turned into darkness, a furious squall came upon them.
a. The Sea of Galilee is located in a valley that’s more like a tunnel.
b. There are hills and mountains on both sides of it with Mount Hermon on the north.
c. Although these hills and mountains are not Colorado Rockies or
California Sierra high, they do form a kind of wind tunnel and, when conditions are right, they can create gale force winds on that body of water.
d. At such times, the lake is churned almost like a roiling earthquake, and fishermen caught on it in such times ride a bucking bull with no way to get off.
e. This is one of those times.
What had these men done wrong that they ended up in a storm?
We can bring storms on ourselves, but not every storm we face comes because we did something wrong. Often we end up in storms because we obey Jesus, even as it was with His disciples that night.
Jesus leads his followers into storms.
These men had followed our Lord’s bidding and done what He told them to do. No one could have been more obedient than these men were in their response. Yet, they faced one of the most terrorizing events of their lives. You can be certain that those at the helm of their boat, big enough for thirteen men, knew the lake. Peter and Andrew, James and John, all had plied these waters virtually their entire lives, and they knew what to do in such storms. Probably they would tell you that the best thing to do was to stay off the sea, but that was not a choice they could make at this time.
The point of it all is, they were there because of Jesus. And so are we when we face storms in life. No storm surprises Jesus; no storm unnerves Jesus. He knew the economic storms that would hit Dallas in the mid-eighties and the impact that these storms would have on so many of us.
Unfortunately when Jesus leads us into storms, we may not find Him as responsive as we like.
II. Jesus May Not Appear to Care in Storms.
A. Their Situation was Desperate. (4:37)
1. The waves were crashing in on them.
2. Their boat was nearly swamped.
a. These men, fishermen and landlubbers alike, were overwhelmed by this storm.
b. Wet and cold, frightened, tossed about, nearly thrown into the sea several different times, they need help in the storm.
3. They were frightened by this storm.
B. Jesus was Sleeping in the Stern of the Boat. (4:38)
1. The day had been exhausting for Jesus, and He must have fallen asleep as soon as they got away from the shore.
2. Apparently He had been sleeping all the way, and neither the screaming of the storm nor the screaming of His men awoke Him.
3. So they turned to Him and accused Him of the very same thing we do when life’s storms hit us: You don’t care if we drown!
Of course, if they drown He does too. Common sense alone would tell them that He cares. And common sense would tell us the same thing.
The idea that Jesus who died for us would not care about our pain or our anxiety or our fear makes no sense at all. Yet this is the feeling many of us have, and we may feel this way simply because there is a storm. We are not supposed to have storms in life. We believed in Jesus in order to avoid storms in life. He is supposed to keep life under control and to protect us from storms and struggles and problems in life.
While others struggle, we are supposed to be immune to it all, protected by Him from hurt and pain and the realities of life. And this is why we respond with such anger and resentment when the storms hit. We see Jesus asleep in the back of the boat and we are angry that He doesn’t care.
If those disciples are anything like I am,
1. They worked to save themselves even though He was there with them.
They probably tried to turn the sail in order to catch the wind and outrun the storm, but the winds were too capricious for that. They probably tried to row through the waves, but the waves were too high for that. They must have tried to bail out the boat when the waves nearly swamped them, but there was too much water for that. They did everything they could to save themselves with Jesus right there in the boat with them.
This is exactly what we do in so many of life’s storms.
We respond by trying to gain control of the storm. What must we, I, do to get this thing under control and determine what has to happen to survive? We are always seeking to be in control of life, but life is too big to be controlled by us. And while we are seeking to be in control Jesus is right there with us, but we don’t want to bother Him, or don’t even think of asking Him. And so the storm continues, and we reach the point of terror in the storm and anger with the Lord.
Also we need to understand that.
2. Though they knew theory about Jesus, they did not know Jesus.
We see this in the accusatory question they ask of Him: Don’t you care if we drown? How can you sleep? Aren’t you going to help us trim the sails or row the boat or bail out the water? Do your share!
They had heard the words and seen the works of Jesus, but these words and works were mere theory to them. The idea that He could do something about the storm had not entered into their minds. The reason for this is because the assumption that they had to do something about it, that they had to handle the issues and stresses of life on their own, was so ingrained in them that they could think of nothing else but their own struggle and terror.
We are just like this. Jesus is a theory for us, not living truth. Life is up to us; Jesus is a sleeping theory in the stern of the boat of life.
But Jesus doesn’t see things quite that way.
III. Jesus Rebukes His Followers for Their Fear When Facing Storms.
A. Jesus Rebukes the Storm. (4:39)
1. “Be muzzled!”
2. The lake was completely calm.
a. This is most unusual.
b. Once the wind dies down the water continues to stir for a period of time after the storm.
3. Now the storm is over.
Theory becomes reality through storms.
B. Jesus Rebukes His Followers. (4:40)
1. Now He turns to them and rebukes them for their cowardice.
a. “Afraid” means cowardice.
b. He asks them why they are such cowards.
Then He gives them the solution for cowardice.
2. He rebukes them for not having faith.
a. You have heard my words, the claims I have made and the teaching I have done.
b. You have seen my works, the healings I have done and the demonized people I have set free.
c. My words and my works should have resulted in faith in your lives.
You come to church Sunday-after-Sunday; you learn about Jesus, both His words and His works; yet you have no faith? You still think life is up to you, that you can handle life’s storms, that you have the wisdom and the strength and the energy to be in control of life? And now you cry out to me in anger and blame?
You don’t even care!
You know me in theory, but do you know me in trust?
C. His Followers are Amazed at His Authority. (4:41)
Now their response changes.
1. They are terrified, but not in a cowardly sense.
2. They are terrified because they are overwhelmed by the presence of God.
a. From the Old Testament as well as from the teaching they had received all their lives, they knew that only God could do what Jesus had just done.
b. Only the Creator could control nature the way Jesus just had.
c. They were overwhelmed by the reality that Jesus is God, so He is the Lord of all storms.
GOD is here!
GOD is involved in our lives.
The Creator of all.
The Lord of all.
The Sovereign of all.
The Controller of all.
God is here.
And we want to be in control?
We must move from control to trust.
THE ONLY WAY TO CONTROL LIFE IS TO
TRUST THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CONTROL IT.
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT JESUS MUST
BECOME TRUST IN JESUS THROUGH STORMS.