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May 01, 2016

Jesus Calms the Storm

Passage: Mark 4:35-41

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

In nature there is nothing more powerful than the sea. About 70 % of the earth is covered in water. In recent years we have seen tsunamis hit Japan and Indonesia. In 2004 about 230,000 people were killed in 14 different countries by the Indonesian tsunami and in 2011 the tsunami in Japan killed about 18, 000 people.

Recently in our own country, we have read of the two teenage boys in Sarasota, Florida, who went out fishing, only to never come back. The ocean is huge, daunting, and powerful, and out of nowhere a storm can hit that can throw a boat around like a rag doll. The sea is nothing to fool around with.

Water Chaos in Scripture

The chaos that water can wreak in our lives is prominent in Holy Scripture.

The very first verse in the Bible talks about the watery chaos that reigned over a formless, dark earth before God began His creation of the world. It was out of this watery chaos that God would bring order to our world.

Then we have the flood during the days of Noah, where God, in His cataclysmic judgment of a wicked human race, destroyed the earth and began His creation over again with Noah and his ark.

In the book of Exodus we have God splitting the waters of the Red Sea so that the Hebrews could be set free from slavery, while the Egyptian army was drowned in the closing of the waters.

There is the story of Jonah running from God on a ship going in the opposite direction of God’s will for his life. A raging storm emerges that does do not die down until he is tossed overboard to drown in the sea. God has mercy and he is swallowed up by a great fish.

Perhaps the greatest chaos that water can wreak is the holy chaos that the Spirit of God wreaks in the heart of the settled sinner when he is saved and his life is turned upside down (reordered) by the calm of Jesus.

In the Storm

In our text today Jesus and his disciples find themselves in the middle of a furious storm, probably akin to a hurricane. It is not uncommon for a storm like that to pop up out of nowhere in the Sea of Galilee because it is 700 feet below sea level, where warm air resides, and it is surrounded on the east side by high mountains, especially Mt. Hermon, which rises to 9,200 feet above sea level, where cold air resides. When the cold air around the tops of Mt. Hermon clash with the warm air of the Sea of Galilee, dangerous squalls form that can quickly sink boats like the one Jesus and his disciples were in.

Isn’t life like that? Everything in our lives can be as smooth as the glassy sea and then all of the sudden, from out of nowhere, a storm can emerge that threatens to drown us. In a moment’s notice, without any prior warning, our lives can be turned upside down by the storms of life.

The Crisis

This produces a crisis for us, just as it did for the disciples.

In the text today we are told that “the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” (v.37) They thought they were going to die. All of a sudden, their circumstances went from glassy to raging sea that threatened to kill them.

What storm are you currently caught in? Is it something at work? Is it in your relationships? A friend, a spouse, a son or daughter? Is it something in your body, mind, or spirit? Sickness, disease, or cancer? Is it the loss of a loved one?

It is shocking how quickly we can be thrown into a crisis that threatens to take us under.

A few weeks ago Brian and I rode to Greensboro and on the way back we stopped in Winston Salem to get a hotdog at my favorite hotdog stand, Skippy’s. And there on the window was a sign that read “Closed Indefinitely.” We ate next door at Subway. We inquired about what was going on. They said the sign had just been put up and they did not know. A few days later an article ran in the Winston Salem Journal about the store having to close because their owner, Mike Rothman, a young man had just been diagnosed with brain cancer.

God in the Storm

Storms produce crisis but the good news of the gospel is that God is always in the midst of the storm. We are not alone and we will not go through it by ourselves. God is not a deist who created the world and then went off to nowhere land to let the world run on its own. The bible teaches, from beginning to end, that God is intimately in involved with the world, working out his purposes in creation. So intimately involved that He came into the world as one of us, when He took upon Himself human flesh and came down to us in the person and work of Jesus, the eternal Son of God the Father. This truth we call the incarnation. It means God became flesh so that we would never be alone in our crisis, no matter how bad it becomes. God is with us in the boat when the storm is raging and He is not freaked out about it (he is asleep in the stern) because He knows exactly what He is doing as He works out His purposes in the world.

How is God with us today if Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the Father?

God in Christ is with us in our storms of life in the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said to his disciples that after his crucifixion and resurrection that he would not leave them orphaned, but rather he would give them a helper in his place who would be with them and in them. His name is the Holy Spirit and He is the third person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit replaces the physical presence of Jesus in our lives and He is always with us, working to bring us to the Father through Jesus. We are not alone! We have a helper and an advocate who is not just with us but in us, and He is leading us into all truth even during the most difficult times in life. God in Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is with us in in the center of our storm.

This in itself is grace enough that God is in the ship when the seas are raging, but the good news of the gospel gets even better. God rescues us in the storm

The Rescue

In our text Jesus spoke to the storm, rebuking the winds and waves (v.39), saying “Quiet! Be still!” and the wind and the waves died down and there was calm.

In this miracle we see the one person who is sovereign over the weather. Man tries to do many things to affect, manipulate, or control the weather, both good and bad, but ultimately we can’t control it. We are not God. Only God can control the weather and in this miracle we see Jesus exercising his divinity as God incarnate in bringing calm to this raging storm. “Who is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” (v. 41)

As we consider this final point of the text about God rescuing us in the storm we need to be careful to recognize that the Lord does not always rescue us from physical harm and he does not always rescue us from the storm in the same way he did his disciples on this occasion.

If the Lord Jesus did that every time then we would have no problems and we would never die but that’s not reality in a fallen world. So as we consider this text we must do so in light of other texts of Scripture so that we remember that Jesus was crucified, the apostle Paul wasted away in prison as a sick, frail man, as did John the apostle, that Stephen was stoned to death, and that Peter, according to church tradition was crucified upside down on a cross. Sometimes “the thorn in our flesh is not removed” (II Cor. 12:8) but even then “His grace is sufficient for us” in the storms of life.

None of that is meant to negate the fact that God can and still does today miraculously rescue us from storms are overwhelming us. So the call here today is to pray for deliverance. We can cry out to God, “Lord, don’t you care if we drown?” It is appropriate to ask God to rescue us; that I do not want to minimize.

The Greatest Rescue

Nor do I want to negate the greatest rescue in all the Bible. The greatest rescue is not Jesus stilling the storm but what he did to reconcile the sinner to a Holy God. The greatest miracle in the Bible is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for life with God.

On the cross the sinless Christ bore upon Himself the judgment of God for wicked humanity’s sin so that God’s justice could be satisfied and His grace given to the sinner. And when we come to the Savior in faith and repentance he will save us from the storm that is destroying every human being, our sin, and he will bring us to the Father. In Christ the sinner’s war with God is destroyed and we are saved from a storm far more dangerous than the one that was raging in the Sea of Galilee.

This is the greatest rescue and it works every time- guaranteed.

As Paul says in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9-13)

Everyone, every time. That’s the gospel.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.