The Unsinkable Jesus
Mark 4:35-41 and Mark 5:1 (King James Version) And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 5:1 (King James Version) And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
The Sea of Galilee is well known for its storms.1 Violent storms can rapidly appear. This area has many storms, because cool air from the surrounding mountains hits hot, humid air over the Sea of Galilee.2
An important guest on a boat would often ride on a seat in the rear of the ship. This special seat had a cushion and a carpet.3 On such a cushion, the Bible says Jesus fell asleep.
A storm arose. This was no ordinary storm. Some commentators feel it was a whirlwind or a cyclone.4 There is support for this position. The Greek contains the meaning “whirlwind.”5 From the Greek, we get the picture of billows of waves.6 The men in the boat were experienced fishermen. They knew the Sea’s winds7 and they were scared. There was reason to be afraid too. The King James Bible says the boat was “full” of water. The Greek supports that translation. In Greek, the idea comes across that the boat was entirely full.8
With a boat dangerously full of water, the disciples woke Jesus. “Teacher, are we to drown, for all you care?” they cry (Moffatt Bible). The disciples did what was right. In their hour of need, they woke Jesus. But the implication in their question was that Jesus did not care. That is why Jesus rebuked the disciples for being afraid and for having no faith.
The faithless cry of the disciples echoes down through the centuries. It is a common cry. Many of us have a picture of what life should be like when we are with Jesus. Somehow, each of us may have a sense that if Jesus is really with me:
1. My family will never suffer financial problems.
2. I will never have to say a final good-bye to a loved one.
3. People in church will always treat me right.
4. The church will not experience divisions and problems.
5. My prayers will be answered the way I want them to be answered.9
6. I will be straight.
7. I will not have disabilities. Or I will not have physical or mental illnesses.
8. I will not have a learning disability.
The storms of life batter our ship. Our picture of what life in Christ is like is broken. The more pain we experience, the more broken our picture becomes.10 The pain shakes our faith in God.
The boat can represent two things - the church of Jesus Christ, and the believer. So we will look at how the story relates to both the church and the individual believer.
There are times when the church goes through strife. The waves symbolize sin.11 Problems in the church may make it seem like the church is so full of sin it will sink. And to top that; God appears to be asleep.12 Our God, our Hope is silent as we hurt. But the Messiah, Jesus, is concerned. God cares. The Lord is in our boat. Be assured of this; when it seems like God is asleep, a prayer, a cry of distress will bring God.13 When we need help, the Lord wants us to call out for help. 1 Peter 5:7 (Contemporary English Version) God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. Psalms 50:15 (King James Version) And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Storms are frequent on the Sea of Galilee. They are equally frequent in life. The other boats were following Jesus, yet they had a powerful storm to fight. Those in the very boat with the Savior were fighting the storm. You can be so near the Lord you can hear God breathing. But that does not mean storms will not arise. A righteous life is no guarantee of peace.14
Some people believe storms come when you are not in God’s will. There are times when we, like Jonah, face difficulties because we are not doing what God would like us to do. We might face struggles, because we are not living as the people God created us to be. In this case, the disciples were obeying Jesus, and they ended up in the storm. Obedience can result in storms.15
Jesus calmed the storm. We can see a general rule. After storms, there is calm. No matter how rough the waves are, they will eventually subside. No mater how strong the wind, it will become still.
Mark 1:25 (King James Version), Jesus cast out a demon saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” In Mark chapter 4, Jesus tells the storm to be quiet too. Jesus’ contemporaries believed demons worked in nature.16 That might be the reason why Jesus addressed the storm in the same way He addressed the demons.
Jesus’ calming the storm shows us part of God’s power. Mark shows the full range of the Son’s power. The miracles recorded in chapters 4 and 5 show Jesus has control over nature, the spiritual world, disease, and death.17 This miracle shows Jesus, the Son’s, power over nature. In Mark chapter 5, Jesus heals a woman who has been sick for twelve years. The last part of Mark chapter 5 tells us Jesus raised a girl from the dead. That shows Jesus has power over death.
The disciples called out for help. Their cry for help impacted on the people in the other boats. When God’s people act, others are touched. You are not the only person going through the storms of life. The lives of those caught in the same storms we are in are touched by how we respond to those difficult situations. When, through our tears, we are able to face life with hope, faith, and confidence, other people notice. Our faith may encourage others to believe there must be something to Christianity.
When Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples were filled with awe and asked each other, “ What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Answers to our prayers may cause people to ask of the God we serve, “What manner of people are they?” They may end up being drawn to the same God we serve.
A church with Jesus on board can make an impact on the entire Christian community. Some churches promote and finance non-denominational crusades. There are congregations that have pioneered new evangelistic methods, or new ways to provide the local community with needed services. A church that allows other congregations to use its facilities is helping the entire body of Christ. And there are churches that provide a safe haven of healing for people who have been injured in other congregations. That is a very valuable service for the body of Christ.
The first part of Mark 4:36 says, And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. This gives us an insight into salvation. We take Jesus as He is. We take God as God is. And who is Jesus? Jesus is the long-promised Messiah. Christian tradition holds that Jesus is the Lord, the Savior, and God, the Son. Jesus is more than a good man. He is much more than an example of how to live a righteous life. To make Jesus into only a religious guru, a good man, or an example, is not taking Jesus as He is. Taking Jesus as He is means taking Jesus as much more than an example, a profound religious teacher, or prophet. Taking Jesus as He is means we understand that somehow Jesus is the Savior.
Jesus might not be in your boat. You are welcome to invite Jesus into your boat, to take Jesus as He is, and to let Jesus be your Savior.
Margaret Brown was on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. She was one of the few people who survived the sinking of the Titanic. After she died, she became known as the unsinkable Molly Brown.18 An ancient ship had the Caesar on board. The ship was about to be wrecked, because of a storm. The helmsman was ready to desert his post. Above the storm, the Caesar yelled, “The vessel which carries Caesar and his fortunes can never sink!”19 Jesus is in the boat of your life. This is not just anybody who is in the boat of your life. This is the unsinkable Jesus. The vessel which carries Jesus can never sink!20 Because Christ is in you, you are that unsinkable vessel. You have the assurance of God’s love, a love that can take you across the many storms of life, and deliver you safely into the heavenly.