5. The Power

Mark 4: 35-38

The Sea of Galilee sits seven hundred feet below sea level, and just thirty miles to the north is Mount Hermon, ninety-two hundred feet high.  The cold air from the mountains continually clashes with warm air coming up from the Sea of Galilee, and as a result, there are impressive thunderstorms and squalls.  Professional fishermen from Galilee were used to them.  This storm must therefore have been an incredible one, because experienced sailors though they were, they thought they were going to die.

Mark 4: 39-41

Jesus woke up, and two amazing things happened.  The first was his words themselves a command of utter simplicity.  He didn’t brace himself, roll up his sleeves, and raise a wand.  He said:  Quiet! Be still!  That’s it. The more astonishing thing is that the storm obeyed like a complaint child.

If you have ever gone on an ocean cruise or lived on the shore, you know that even when the winds stop and a storm ends, the waves keep pounding for hours afterward.  Yet when Jesus said, Quiet!  Be still!  not only did the winds die down but the water instantly went dead calm.

Before Jesus calms the storm, they are afraid — but after Jesus calms the storm, they are terrified.  Why?  Before Jesus was awakened, Mark says, the boat was nearly swamped — it was almost full.  The disciples couldn’t bail fast enough; they knew the boat was just seconds from being totally filled and they would die.  They woke Jesus and said, “Don’t you care if we drown?”  This picture goes to our hearts because everyone who’s ever tried to live a life of faith in this world has felt like this sometimes.  Everything is going wrong, you are sinking, and God seems to be asleep, absent, or unaware.  

Jesus calmed the storm, and then he responded to them. Did he say, I can understand how you felt?  No; he asked, “Why are you so afraid?” Jesus’s question to them has behind it this thought:  Your premise is wrong.  You should have known better.  I do allow people I love to go through storms.  If you know that he did not abandon you in that ultimate storm, what makes you think he would abandon you in the much smaller storms you’re experiencing right now?

Jesus asks the disciples, “Do you still have no faith?” That could actually be translated as “Where is your faith?” I love that way of phrasing it.  By asking the question in this way, Jesus is prompting them to see that the critical factor in their faith is not its strength, but its object.  

If you want to believe but can’t, stop looking inside; go to Jesus and say, “Help me believe.” Go to him and say, “So you are the one who gives faith!  I have been trying to work it out by reasoning and thinking and meditating and going to church.  I hope that a sermon will move me — I have been trying to get faith by myself.  Now I see that you are the source of faith.  Please give it to me.” If you do that, you will find that Jesus has been seeking you — he is the author of faith, the provider of faith, and the object of faith.

Note from King’s Cross: Understanding the Life and Death of Jesus

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