Calm - but not calm
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41, NIV)
I remember, travelling by the shores of Galilee, how our tour guide told us that the lake has a reputation for sudden storms. This seems to be exactly what happened in Mark’s famous account, on what should have been a routine crossing. A storm got up, and the boat Jesus and his disciples were in was in danger of sinking. But Jesus, with just two authoritative words, commanded the wind and the waves to be calm - and they were. (Normally, even when the wind drops, it takes longer for a swell to subside.)
This is no fairy story. Mark reports that the boat was accompanied by others - presumably a way of telling the reader that there were other witnesses to this extraordinary event. The disciples’ panicky question - “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” - is reported, even though it doesn’t portray the disciples in a particularly glowing light.
But for me, the biggest mark of authenticity is the surprising way the account ends. Just after Jesus has calmed the storm, the disciples are terrified. Had this been a fairy story, we might have expected the tension to be resolved: the storm led to terror; the calming led to peace - and they all lived happily ever after!
Instead, they were scared stiff. Of course they were! For here was something even more startling than the storm. In the boat with them was One Who had awesome power over nature. We cannot know by what exact means He did control the wind and the waves; but here is One Who has the attributes of the Creator Himself, the One Who sustains the whole universe. No wonder they were afraid!
Some quick reflections:
1. Is our view of Jesus big enough? Risen and ruling, He is in sovereign control of all. Our studies in Revelation on Sunday mornings this term are showing us that it is the Lamb (as Jesus is called there) who opens the scroll of history. Each of us needs to know that Jesus really is Lord. He’s not just a great teacher, not even just the man who died on the cross, but the risen Ruler, who has our lives in His hands. We’ll never understand real Christianity until we grasp that.
2. Have we grasped the comfort that this account brings? Mark’s gospel may have been written during Nero’s persecution of the Christians, a time when they felt swamped like the disciples. But Jesus - risen and ruling - is in the boat! And He does care.
3. We look forward to a world without mourning or suffering - but how do we know it will be like that? Because when He came the first time, the Lord Jesus demonstrated His ability to calm the storm, heal the sick, raise the dead - to wipe away all those tears.