“Even the wind and the sea obey Him”
Intro: Are you a weather channel fanatic? I know a few. Weather is fascinating to us. It impacts us every day. Weather technology is very interesting – low pressure, high pressure, El Niño and winter vortexes. Despite all the human interest and technological advances in meteorology, one thing has remained constant. You cannot do anything about the weather. If we ever need a reality check on our impotence as humans we need only look up at the clouds.
- God asked Job…. – Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? 34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, That an abundance of water may cover you? 35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, And say to you, ‘Here we are!’? 36 Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart? 37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust hardens in clumps, And the clods cling together? (Job 38:33-38)
- Earlier Job himself spoke of God’s absolute sovereignty over the earth with these words… He binds up the water in His thick clouds, Yet the clouds are not broken under it. 9 He covers the face of His throne, And spreads His cloud over it. 10 He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, At the boundary of light and darkness. 11 The pillars of heaven tremble, And are astonished at His rebuke. 12 He stirs up the sea with His power, And by His understanding He breaks up the storm. (Job 26:8-12) Perhaps these words came to the mind of Jesus’ disciples when they witnessed one of His most impressive miracles. After teaching the multitudes in parables, and expressing the true cost of discipleship (Matt. 8:18-22), Jesus got into the boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (about 13 miles long and as much as 8 miles wide)
- Read Mark 4:35-41 – 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
I. “A great windstorm arose…” The sudden appearance of a storm on the Sea of Galilee was not uncommon. The sea is situated in a deep basin 600 ft. below sea level. The surrounding hills contain ravines and gorges that are open to the sea. The wind rushes through these gorges out over the water, creating violent storms. Some in Jesus’ boat would have been very aware of this circumstance, and had probably been in storms before. But the events of this day would be the most memorable of any previous boat trip.
A. The disciples faced a life-threatening situation. The word Matthew uses to describe this event (storm) is the word Seismos literally means a shaking (from which we get seismic, seismograph, describing the shaking of the earth. The storm was so violent that it shook the water like water in a glass. Mark tells us that the boat was “filling” as each wave breaking over the side was causing it to sink lower in the water. The NIV uses the word “swamped”. Matthew says the boat was “covered” with water. Luke adds that the disciples were in “jeopardy”.
B. What became quickly apparent to the passengers was that they were powerless before such a storm. Even the most seasoned sailor could not keep the water out or maneuver the boat to safety. The agitated sea, and the fearful disciples is put in stark contrast to Jesus…
II. “But He was asleep” (Matt 8:24) Mark tells us he had his head on a pillow. This must have been perplexing to the disciples. How could He remain asleep with all this going on around Him? I believe the contrast is intentional, depicting more to us than that Jesus was a heavy sleeper – more sleep “spindles” generated in the brain). Jesus’ sleep represents His absolute trust in contrast to their absolute fear. No doubt, Jesus calmness was difficult for the disciples to understand, and it must have seemed impossible for them to duplicate given the circumstances.
A. “they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) A few of them were seasoned sailors (fisherman) but they were past their capabilities and woke the carpenter’s son up to help. Did it dawn on them that the Master of the seas was asleep in the back of their boat? I doubt they had ever questioned Jesus’ concern for them before. But when you really need help and that person does not respond, you can begin to question if they really care. Was Jesus unconcerned, or was this the voice of fear in their hearts? Their words imply a confidence in His ability to do something. If they did not believe this they would not have awakened Him. The story is told of a hardened old sea captain who was an avowed atheist. One night during just such a storm, he washed overboard, and his men heard him cry out to God for help. When he was rescued one of the men asked him, “I thought you didn’t believe in God.” He replied, “Well, if there isn’t a God, there ought to be one for times like this.” Sometimes God’s people only seek God’s help in desperation – sickness, death, loss of job, or some other tragedy. That does not displease God. A recognition of our own inadequacy and a willingness to seek God’s help is essential.
B. But notice carefully Jesus’ response. Matthew tells us that he first spoke to the disciples, then to the seas. Matt 8:26 – But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Faith and fear are put in direct contrast… the presence of fear is evidence of a little faith. This is not the only time that Jesus upbraids the disciples for having “little faith”:
- Earlier in Matthew 6, as Jesus commands them to not be anxious for the things of this world, He states, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matt 6:30)
- Later in Mt. 14:31 he lifts Peter from the raging sea and says “O you of little faith why did you doubt”;
- Matt 16:8-9 – When the disciples did not understand his warning about the leaven of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? (
- These rebukes contain a similar refrain concerning a lack of faith, but from different perspectives:
- there is little faith in those who doubt God’s ability to provide for them on a daily basis (Mt. 6);
- There is also little faith in the heart of those are overcome in the moment (Peter in Mt. 14);
- And there is also little faith among those who do not allow God’s previous provision to produce trust for the future. (Mt. 16) Faith is needed throughout, and our faith can be weak in one circumstance and strong in another.
1. Obviously, the disciples recognized that Jesus was able to do something to help them which they could not do for themselves. Even though they were desperate men, this demonstrated a degree of faith in His ability. What seemed to be on trial was their confidence that Jesus would do something in this crucial hour. Did He care if they perished?
III. “Peace Be Still” – “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39) Jesus calmed the winds and the sea with three words, but He could have done it without saying anything. He may have chosen to speak them still so as to place emphasis on the power of His words to bring peace.
A. Jesus rebuked the wind. I have screamed at it before, but never have I been able to rebuke it. (Blew our tent over a Sebastian Inlet) It just kept right on blowing. The original word here means censure, admonish or forbid. It leaves the impression that the wind had done wrong and was being corrected. What is on display in this miracle is Jesus’ power to command. The psalmist wrote of God in Psalm 89:8-9 O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them. These words may have been familiar enough to the disciples to come to their minds as they witnessed this miracle.
B. The seas and winds immediately responded to Jesus’ command. Troubled seas calm slowly and gradually. These men had seen that before. But not this time. There was no delay – all was calm at once. The disciples may also have known the comforting words of Psalm 107:23-30: 23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, 24 They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. 26 They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. These ancient words were being fulfilled before their eyes.
IV. “Who can this be?” And the men marveled, saying, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27) The word “marveled” indicates extreme amazement. They had never seen anything like this before. Mark tells us that they were “very much afraid” (4:41). They were now more afraid of the one who had stilled the storm than they had been of the storm itself! They had seen storms before, but they had never seen One like Jesus before.
A. What does this event tell us about Jesus?
1. He has the power: This clearly demonstrated Jesus’ power over nature. Who but God could do this? He was affirming His deity to the disciples.
2. He cares: Jesus rescue of the disciples from such a threatening circumstance indicated that He cared about them, and would respond in their hour of need. So it may be appropriate to view this miracle in connection with the spiritual, mental, or emotional storms that threaten our peace and disrupt our lives. Jesus calms storms, and He does it with His words. Our lack of peace may also be indicative of a lack of faith. Phil 4:6-7 – 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- Do we know that Jesus can handle any crisis?
- Do we know that He cares about us and will not neglect to protect and provide for us? It may appear at times that God is slumbering or disinterested. But that is the voice of fear and unbelief. After Jesus promised the apostles that He would send them the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort them in His absence, He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus warned his disciples against the sin of anxiety and fear.
3. But this miracle also pointed to Jesus’ ultimate mission – to save the lost through the defeat of sin and Satan. Jesus was controlling and calming nature as it threatened and dominated man. There is a sense in which this event was the result of sin. It seems as though the curse and impact of sin was often in view as Jesus performed miracles. As he defeated those forces that were demonstrative of the curse of sin (disease, storms, hunger, demons, death) He proved His power over sin and Satan himself. He could and would undue sin.
a. The peace Jesus offers and provides is more than a comforting word in a time of sorrow or a calm disposition in an anxious moment. It is the peace that comes through the removal of sin and its consequences. It is a peace secured through the final and full rebuke of sin and the subsequent calm produced. Paul told the Roman Christians in Rom 16:20 – the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. This is the peace of reconciliation between God and man, through the power of Jesus’ cross. Eph 2:14-18 – 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Conclusion: Jesus has the power to calm the storm? Will put your trust in Him and obey Him today?