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The disciples were upset with the storm. Jesus was upset with their faithless response to the storm.
When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us cross over to the other side." When they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. They awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" The wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"
Mark 4:35-41 NKJV condensed
Jesus, Don't You Care!
Evening came and with evening comes darkness. If you have ever been caught without a safe place to be at nightfall, you know the dread of darkness. Yet at the end of this day when everyone was tired and wanting to settle in, Jesus seemed to make a spontaneous decision to go to the other side of the lake, and take his disciples with him. That meant going out in several boats on a night crossing with no prior preparations, no checklist and no provisions. Now a few of you may think that sounds exciting; but most of us can hear some eerie musiccoming on. Could this trip not wait until morning!
Well, when you travel with Jesus, what could possibly go wrong! After all, several of the disciples were fishermen accustomed to being out in their boats at night. So, what's the big deal. Might as well enjoy the cool breezes, check out the jumpers and follow the stars. Exhausted, Jesus opted for the comfort of sleep. The men at the oars caught their second wind and moved ahead at a steady pace.
However, Murphy's law was lurking in the shadows, waiting for them as they neared the mid point. Then it hit. The quiet lapping of the water gave way to the roar of nature's fury, as a fierce squall blew in and sent waves up and over the sides of their boats. The Sea of Galilee is prone to these unpredictable, violent storms because it's a pear-shaped bowl, ringed by mountains. Cool air from the Mediterranean gets sucked through the narrow passes and slams out over the warm water, creating havoc for anyone in its path.
The disciples could not defend themselves from nature's wrath. Our text says Jesus was still sleeping, even though there must have been much noise, from the storm and from the disciples as they fought for their lives. Jesus, what is the matter with you! Are you from another planet? How can you be so unmindful of the chaos around you? Why are you not helping out? Wake up and do something! All the frustrations of this unanticipated and difficult trip came out in the stinging question, "Do you not care?"
Jesus got up, rebuked the tempest, and the noise and hollering abruptly stopped. Jesus was in control now. The wind calmed. The danger ceased. Relief drained through their bodies.
Then it was Jesus' turn to ask, What's the matter with you! Why were you so afraid in this situation? How can it be you still have no faith? The disciples were doing his bidding, had just survived a drenching storm and now Jesus hit them with words that knew no mercy. What had they done wrong? Or failed to do? What would faith have looked like in such a life-threatening scene?
Jesus had led them right into the path of a storm and then took no responsibility for their safety until they woke him up and demanded he do something. He didn't act as their coach throughout the ordeal. He just left them alone to deal with it in their own way, and then offered one critique: Why were you afraid!
We have a problem here. Neither Jesus nor the disciples were meeting the expectations of the other. The disciples thought they were going to die and Jesus didn't seem to notice. What he did notice, they didn't want to hear. Jesus tried every day to impart faith and confidence to his disciples. Yet here they were, all wet and hyper in the middle of the lake, growling at each other. This story is not flattering to anybody.
We learn a lot about each other during a crisis. In their hour of trial, the disciples had behaved no differently than anyone else would have who never knew their God. That's what Jesus chided them for. They had momentarily lost sense of who they were and whose they were. Jesus did not focus on their outward behavior, the issue was the inward activity of their spirit.
Jesus could rebuke the mighty wind and make it cease. But he couldn't produce a miracle to cure the disciples' lack of faith. As any parent knows, you can rebuke a child but that doesn't mean they will master the traits you want to pass on to them. The disciples worried about the storms they couldn't control; Jesus worried about the fright he witnessed among those who followed him and believed in him. Fear is the great enemy of faith. No one can take your fears from you, they can only be surrendered.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: Describe one storm you were caught in?
Do you think the disciples were angry because Jesus slept while they had to work so hard to keep the boat afloat? Did you ever feel like you had to wake up God to help you? Describe a situation in which you were frustrated with God? Shouldn't we expect a smooth crossing with Jesus in our boat?
Jesus seemed to know things before they happened. Suppose Jesus knew there was a storm coming across the lake, yet didn't prevent or deter his disciples from entering the storm. What would that tell you about Jesus and how he dealt with his disciples? How do you feel about that?
What good was faith going to do in this situation anyway? The disciples needed some solid tangible protection from the storm. They needed deliverance. They had done everything humanly possible, yet their boat continued to take on water. How would faith get them what they needed? Was death the worst thing that could happen to them? What is the worst thing that could happen to you?
Were the disciples stuck in the storm because they chose fear over faith? Or because the cool Mediterranean wind met the warm, humid air over the lake? In what ways does faith give you freedom even though you are stuck? Did your spirit ever have wings without any physical explanation for it?
Fear seems normal and natural to us, but Jesus didn't accept that argument. Is fear an enemy that needs to be vanquished? When is fear a positive influence? When is it harmful? Why did Jesus try so hard to rid his disciples of the fear factor?
The disciples called him "Teacher." But did they really want to learn what Jesus wanted to teach them? Do we? Jesus couldn't give them faith on a platter, so how did they acquire faith?
When you are afraid, what happens inside of you?When you have faith, what happens inside of you?
We tend to worry or get exercised about things we have no control over. Did Jesus do the same? If so, what did Jesus have to worry about?