On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. Other boats were with Him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:35-41, NRSV)
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Can you image experiencing this miracle? To literally see a great wall of waves break into nothingness. To watch as giant winds vanish instantly. To witness chaos change into peace.
Though this is without a doubt a supernatural occurrence, the miraculous transformation of this storm reaches far beyond our God’s sovereignty over nature. In fact, the focus of this miracle is not the physical storm at all.
Instead, we find a great focus upon His relationship and work with the disciples. Though He speaks to the winds and the waves, I believe the real discourse is to every one of the followers in the boats. We know this as true because of Jesus’ final questions about their “little faith.”
Within each of them was the doubts of whether this journey was worth it. If leaving behind their lives was the right decision. Perhaps their friends told them of how crazy it sounded. Perhaps they heard over and over: “You will get yourself killed!” And here was the moment it was going to happen.
What we can quickly overlook when reading the gospels is how human these disciples are. Like us, they lack confidence. Like us, they struggle with doubt. Like us, they waver when tempted. And like us, they break under pressure.
But today’s miracle reveals to us two great principles: The utter cost of a disciple and the unshakable care of Jesus.
We discover the cost of a disciple right at the beginning of the passage: “When evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. Other boats were with Him…”
Notice the wording of these verses?
This particular day, Jesus spent time teaching and preaching to hundreds who surrounded Him. Overtime, He began accruing a large following – described by the gospel writers as “the crowd.” Where He went in the city, they followed. When He healed, they watched. When He spoke, they listened.
But what differentiates “the crowd” from the disciples is huge. One group was full of fans and the other followers. One group gave Jesus their attention while the other gave Him their lives. And as Jesus approached the sea that evening, He said a statement that demanded a decision.
“Let us go across to the other side.”
We know this invitation was not specifically for His twelve, or else the “other boats” would not have been mentioned. Instead, this invitation was for those who wanted to truly follow – even if it meant being led into the dark unknown, into new and unseen places, and without a solid understanding of what was in store.
So, “leaving the crowds behind, they took Him with them in the boat.” It is interesting that though it was Jesus’ idea – His invitation – the disciples took Him with them.
You see, the great cost of a disciple is to – without hesitation – say “Yes” to Jesus’ invitation to the unknown. It is to leave behind everything, while choosing to consciously take Him with you.
And as they sailed further into the sea, the crowds got smaller and the great unknown got greater. And here is where we meet the storm.
It was violent in nature, shaking the very foundation of the boat. Though sleeping, Jesus was not “slumbering.” Though He seemed distant, His presence and care were as close as ever. The journey of a disciple has storms, but Jesus has power over them. He is in the stern - the captain’s quarter.
And His powerful phrase to the storm is actually better translated as “Silence! Be quiet!” With a single phrase, He demanded for the storm to hush.
And this is where the unshakable care of Jesus is found. The peace that He was experiencing while sleeping, He is now commanding the storm to have.
But that was not all.
In silencing the storm, He also silences the growing doubt within His disciples. In quieting the storm, He quiets their own overwhelming fears. In hushing the roar of the waves, He hushes the roar of their inner lies. And in an instance, His peaceful rest was upon them.
As a disciple in today’s world, we must realize that Jesus will call us into stormy waters. Like the twelve, these storms will often allow our inner struggles to surface. Yet in the loud roar of it all, Jesus still speaks and says, “Silence. Peace. Be still. Be quiet.”
Today, allow this miracle to be your own. Whether you find yourself on dry ground or traveling right through a storm, recognize Jesus’ power to quiet the roar of the waves. Remind your heart of the utter cost of following Jesus and of His unshakable care.
Allow His peace to reign upon you.
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Greg, Declare Glory