Calming the Storm
A Miracle of Life


Calming the storm is one of the more well-known and significant miracles of Jesus.  In this account, you have Jesus on a boat with His disciples.  During that time there was a great storm that arose and the disciples were afraid.  Jesus, who was then awakened by the disciples, waved his hand and said, “Peace be still.”

In the first part of the text, you have a great storm.  The disciples were terrified and said, “We are perishing.”  At the end of the text you have a great calm.  Let’s read this miracle of Jesus calming the storm as it is recorded in Mark 4.35-41:

Mark 4.35-41:  “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.  And 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. And 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!’ And 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!’”


Let’s take a close look at this miracle of Jesus and His calming the storm.  As we do so, let’s give some thought to two simple points.

  • We will take note of the impressive miracle of Jesus calming the storm and be amazed. 
  • We will consider what the miracle of Jesus calming the storm means to us today. 

 


Calming the Storm
An Amazing Miracle

Before we look at the actual miracle, notice how the disciples reacted to it.  After calming the storm, Jesus turn to His disciples and asked, “Why are you so fearful?”  They were certainly afraid as the storm raged and the boat was in danger of capsizing.  With the sea now at peace, the disciples were fearful of something else.

Mark 4.41:  “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’”

In the original language, you will find two Greek words side by side.  Together they translate into the word “feared” in Mark 4.41 of our English Bibles.  The two Greek words that are translated into “feared” are…

  • Phobeo:  “To frighten, to be alarmed.  By way of analogy, to be in awe of, that is, to revere”  [Strong]
  • Phobos:  “To be put in fear, alarm or fright."  [Strong]
  • These words give us our English word “phobia.” 

With both of these words used together in our text, we have this idea of being afraid and fearful, but also being amazed.   

Matthew’s account reads like this:  “So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"   (Matt. 8.23).  As we look at the miracle of Jesus calming the storm, we need to be amazed! 


The Timing of Jesus Calming the Storm

Mark 4.35:  On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’”

The text says that the miracle of calming the storm happened in the evening of “the same day,”  That encourages us to go back and find out what else had gone on this day.

When you go back to the beginning of the chapter, you will read in Mark 4.1, “And again He began to teach by the sea.  And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.”

Here is Jesus in a boat just off the shore and He is using the boat as His pulpit.  On this occasion, He taught using a variety of parables.  If you skip down to Mark 4.33,34, you read, “And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them.  And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”

The first parable is recorded in Mark 4.3-20.  This is the parable of the sower.  In this parable Jesus describes seed being planted on four different kinds of soil.  Later in the text, Jesus explains that the seed was the word of God, and that there are four different reactions to the gospel

  • There are some who will not listen to what Jesus has to say.
  • There are some who will listen to Jesus and obey His words, but when persecutions come, they will turn away.
  • There are some who will listen to Jesus and obey His words, but they allow the cares and pleasures of this world to distract them and they turn away.
  • There are some who will listen and obey, and they will be faithful and productive disciples.

That parable launches a series of parables in relation to the kingdom that Jesus was going to build.  The kingdom is the church, His people. 

  • He teaches a parable of the growing seed where the seed was planted and the kingdom would grow, but we do not know how.  (Mark 4.26-29)
  • He teaches a parable of the mustard seed where the kingdom starts out small and then grows to a great size and provides benefits to those who come to it.  (Mark 4.30-32)

So on and on Jesus teaches, and this turns out to be a day of much instruction on the part of Jesus.  That takes us to verse 35.

Mark 4.35:  On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’”

Here is Jesus in the boat teaching those people on the shore from the boat.  After He had finished teaching, He tells His disciples to cross to the other side of the sea. 

Mark 4.36:  “Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.  And other little boats were also with Him.”  

Now we have a little bit of additional information that the other gospel accounts do not include.  There were those who went with Jesus because of the things that He taught.  In fact, earlier Jesus praises them because they used their ears and they heard, in contrast to those who were dull of hearing.  (Mark 4.11,12).

So there were people who had heard the words of Jesus.  They accepted the words of Jesus.  When He made His way across the Sea of Galilee, they got in their boats and went with Him.

I believe that it is an important observation that the immediate disciples in the boat with Jesus were not the only ones who were in danger.  There were many others who also followed Jesus in other boats who were in danger as well.

This also reminds us, that if we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are still vulnerable to the dangers and problems around us.  One cannot think that if he becomes a Christian, or if he lives as a Christian, following Jesus that all his problems will just go away.

The problems will still be there.  In fact, he may develop some additional problems he did not previous have because of his faith.  But at least now he has a way to deal with them.  But here are people following after Jesus and became vulnerable to the dangers that would soon surround them.


The Trauma before Jesus Calming the Storm

Mark 4.37:  “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.” 

The disciples are in the boat with Jesus and there are other boats also following Jesus when this great windstorm develops.

On the sea, the danger caused by wind is that it pushes the water back and forth.  As a result, it will cause big waves to rise.  That is what was happening in this text.  The water was being blown around and these waves were crashing against the boat.  They were even crashing over and into the boat so that it was filling with water.  The boat was in danger of capsizing.

Is it not true that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are sometimes vulnerable to difficulties and challenges?  Do we not feel sometimes like we are overwhelmed.  Do we not feel that the waves of life are crashing against us.  Do we not feel that that the ground under our feet shakes and the winds and waves of turmoil blow so hard we cannot keep ourselves upright?  If you have felt that way, then you know how the disciples felt on that boat.

Mark 4.38:  “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’”  

The wind is blowing.  The waves are beating on the boat and crashing into the boat filling it with water.  The boat is in danger of capsizing.  Where is Jesus?  He is asleep on a pillow.  Mark records the words of one of the disciples who said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”


The Touch of the Master Calming the Storm

Mark 4.39:  “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”

The disciples woke up Jesus.  He gets up and he rebukes the wind, and He says to the sea, “Peace, be still!”  The phrase, “Peace, be still” is translated from two Greek words:  Sioopa Pefimooso.

  • Sioopa:  “hushness, muteness, involuntary stillness, or inability to speak.”  [Stong]
  • Pefimoosa:  “to muzzle”  [Strong] 

Jesus essentially says, “I silence you by putting a muzzle over your mouth.”  Jesus exercised His control over the natural elements of the world and demanded that there be silence.  The result was Jesus calming the storm.  He then turned to His disciples.

Mark 4.40:  “But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ 

Have you ever felt that way?  You are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  You are vulnerable to the winds and the waves of life.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed by the affairs of life, and you say, “Lord, don’t you even care?!?”

Then the providence of God takes hold of the situation, and there is a great calm.  Now you feel ashamed because you should have known.  You should have known that He would take care of you, and you think, "Why didn't I trust Him?"

Mark 4.41:  “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"



Calming the Storm is a Great Life Lesson

Our lives are much like the Sea of Galilee.


1.  Like the Sea of Galilee, our lives are something of beauty.

The Sea of Galilee is 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by mountains. The waters of the Sea of Galilee are a deep transparent blue.  There is an abundance of life that swims throughout the sea today just as there were in the days of Jesus.  It was a place where fishermen made their living.  There are small rocks on the shore surrounding the Sea that glisten in the sun, and at night when the moonlight falls on the shore, it dances.  It is a beautiful sea.

Your life, like that sea, is beautiful.  From a biological vantage point we are beautiful creatures.  The Psalmist wrote this in Psalm 139.14

Psalm 139.14:  “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

You are somebody special because you have been created by God.

From a spiritual vantage point we are beautiful creatures.  Jesus said in John 10.10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  When Christ died on the cross,  and we were cleansed by the blood of Christ through our faith and obedience to the gospel, He did not just give us the gift of life.  He gave us life more abundantly.  If you are a follower of Jesus, your life is beautiful because your life is in Christ. 


2.  As beautiful as is the Sea of Galilee, when we make this comparison, we also observe that the Sea of Galilee is quite volatile.

When you look at a cross section of the area that contains the Sea of Galilee, you will find that this Sea is sitting at the top of a trench.  We also find that the sea itself is surrounded by mountains which have large passageways naturally carved into them.

Frequently air is funneled through those passageways and through the Jordan valley.  As a result, you could be sitting in the boat on the Sea when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, there would develop a violent wind storm.  The Sea of Galilee is very unpredictable, very volatile.

Like the Sea of Galilee, your life is very volatile.  You can be cruising along with everything going well.  Suddenly your world is turned upside down.  All it takes is a single phone call.  All it takes is one visit to the doctor’s office.  All it takes is one morning to wake up and turn on the news. 

Your life is unpredictable and volatile.  We see this in the example of Job.  He was doing well and prospering, when suddenly he lost everything.  As Job contemplates his plight, he said in Job 14.1, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”

In Romans, Paul writes about the sufferings in this present time  (Rom. 8.18).  As we follow the flow of the text, Paul writes that things are so bad that we don’t even know how to pray.  In Romans 8.26, we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Physically, you may find out that you have a crippling disease or even a fatal disease, and you fall to your knees and cry out to God, “Please save me.  Don’t you even care that I am perishing?”

Emotionally and spiritually, you may find that you have lost your way.  You may find that you lost your faith, and you don’t know how to restore it.  And you cry out, “O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Rom. 7.24).

Your life will have its storms.  You pray for your family, and you pray for your health.  You realize that there is nothing you can do except pray.  Life is volatile!


3.  Like the Sea of Galilee your life can be a life of peace and great calm.

The first thing that I need to do to have peace and great calm is to go to God through Jesus.  It is interesting that the miracle of Jesus calming the storm is told by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Each account tells of the event from a different vantage point. 

  • In Matthew’s account, the disciples said, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”   (Matt. 8.25)
  • In Mark’s account, the disciples said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  (Mark 4.38).
  • In Luke’s account, the disciples said, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”  (Luke 8.24).

So you have the disciples calling out to the One who has supreme authority (Lord), the One who teaches us the will of God (Teacher), and the One who is appointed commander over all things (Master).  Here is One who is the Lord, the Teacher, and the Master.  He is the One they turned to when they were in trouble.

I know that there are times when it seems as if God is not actively involved in our lives.  It seems that when we are overwhelmed, God is asleep.  Yet we know that God does not sleep, for the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 121.3.4, “He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

Perhaps the problem is not that God is inactive in our lives.  Perhaps the problem is that we do not go to Him and seek His help.  Perhaps it is because we do not go to Him and cast our cares upon Him.  Perhaps it is because we do not go to God in prayer, putting our cares and concerns into His hands so that the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 4.6,7)  

Just as the disciples had to go to Jesus and awaken Him in their trouble, so you need to go to God and ask Him to help you.  That’s the first step in inviting peace in your life.

The second step is a lot harder.  After you go to God with your cares and concerns, you have to wait.  You have to trust that God will take care of things.  You have to let go and let God.  Jesus rebuked His disciples because according to Matthew’s account, they had “no faith.”  It wasn't until after Jesus acted to remove the threat that they believed and were amazed.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 65.7, “You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.”  Do you believe that?  Do you believe that God will still the noise and bring peace? 

There are times when you are going to be frustrated because God does not necessarily see our difficulties as an emergency.  And we have to trust that God will do all things in His time.

There are times when you are going to be disappointed, because in your finite mind and limited understanding, you do not see the whole picture as God does.  And you have to trust that with God all things will work out for the good to them that love Him.  And trusting in God that He will take care of things will, by itself, bring about calming the storm in our minds.

During all this, you will find a gentle rebuke by Jesus in the form of a question:  “Why were you afraid?”  Do you find that question chastising?  Maybe you are afraid because you have not reached a certain level of spiritual maturity.  You read these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples on the boat, “Why were you afraid?”  You realize that you have felt the same way.

Have you been afraid in the mists of the storms of life?  Are you currently in the midst of a storm?  Put your trust in God and hear the words of Jesus:  “Peace be still.”  There is no peace in your life spiritually when have no relationship with God.  The first step in calming the storm is to become right with God through Jesus.  One who is in a relationship with God can know that the He will be the One involved in calming the storm of life.

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