Mark 4:35-41 Jesus Is Master Over Storms! Pentecost 5 June 24, 2018
By Pastor Kenneth Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI

God’s grace and peace are yours through Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior despite the storms of life. Amen.
The Gospel lesson is the basis of our sermon: Mark 4:35-41
These are Your Words heavenly Father. Use them to help our faith grow in Christ. Your Word is truth! Amen.

Dear Christian Friends,

I want to talk about tests for a few minutes. Tests are not something we usually look forward to, but it may depend on the kind of test we’re given. If I test the microphone to make sure it’s working no one should be upset. If I were to give each of you a quiz at the end of the service about what the sermon was about that might make some people uneasy. Today, we’re to see an example of God giving His people a test. It wasn’t a written test but was an important test of faith for His disciples. We can learn from this lesson how to use our faith when we see God allowing “tests” in our lives, like sickness, loss, accident, or a hard-to-solve problem. Our theme is:

Jesus Is Master Over Storms!

First, He allows “storms” in life so that we realize our need for faith. Jesus had asked His disciples to take Him by boat to the other side of the lake, probably 4-6 miles across. Several disciples were experienced fishermen, so they didn’t think the trip would be a problem. But, once away from shore, their boat was hit by a hurricane-force winds. Like we see on Lake Michigan, waves were whipped up from the wind higher than the boat. The storm became more than they could handle; and they were in serious trouble. God’s test had begun!

How would they react to the storm? They were fearful. They lost control in the storm. It was powerful enough to send them into the turbulent waters with no chance to live. That would make most people fear for their lives and for others that they love. Another thing which fueled their fear was that Jesus remained asleep in the boat. They knew He was the Savior. Didn’t He know what was going on? Why wasn’t He saving them? The disciples woke him and yelled over the howl of the wind, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (v. 38). With that statement their lack of faith led them from fear to questioning Jesus’ power to save. How could He be the true Savior and let this happen? Why was He taking His time at answering their plea for help? Did Jesus care about them or didn’t He care if they suffered or died? He had told them to cross the lake in the first place!

Like the disciples, we don’t have a complete trust in Christ. We are confident that He will take us to heaven someday. But, why does He allow “storms” in life along the way to heaven? Our storms may be a problem at work or home, an illness, or a strong temptation to sin. We wonder: where is Jesus? Why isn’t He helping us? We worry or are afraid as if we are on our own. Like the disciples, we don’t want to be patient as the Bible tells us to be. Through the lesson of the storm Jesus wants us to know that in this sinful world we will be vulnerable to problems that don’t easily go away, even with prayer to God.

But, we are not alone. The Old Testament prophet Jonah was on a ship in a terrible storm. The sailors tried to save it. Jonah told them that he was the cause of the storm. If they threw him overboard, the storm would stop. They did and it did. But it wasn’t Jonah’s end. God had a great fish swallow him until he repented. Then God rescued him. Three Jewish men in Babylon were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to worship a golden image of the king. He threatened to burn them alive in a hot furnace if they did not worship his idol. They replied, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know… that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). They passed the test of faith!

It was just the opposite for Jesus’ disciples. Even after He instantly stopped the wind and the sea was calm, the disciples still feared. They saw Jesus’ power and they were afraid of Him. Even though Jesus had calmed the troubled sea, they did not let His powerful Word calm their troubled hearts. We, as believers, need to grow in our faith in Christ to be ready for “storms” in life

Second, Jesus stills the “storms” to strengthen our faith. Like the disciples, we need to know Jesus better. He was a real person who needed sleep. The Bible tells us that He humbled Himself to be tested just like we are in every way, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus’ sleep was not a weakness as they thought. His sleep in a hurricane showed that He had a perfect confidence in God to protect Him. In every test of Jesus’ life, He trusted in His Father’s care. Jesus’ perfect life is credited to us when we trust in Him to save us.

Jesus’ nature as God is clearly shown by His power over the wind and waves. “He… rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (v.39). Although Jesus lived a humble life, His actions showed that He is God. The Bible states in Psalm 89, “O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them” (v.8-9). The original word for “be still” means to put a muzzle on it. Jesus treated these powerful forces of nature like they were an animal that, once muzzled, could do no one any harm. As our Savior and God He is in control of all things in our lives for our good. He has the power to save us. Believe it!

We can learn from this lesson not to be discouraged by our “storms” of life. God’s timing is not our timing and God’s way of answering our prayers is not always our way. After stopping the storm Jesus asked the disciples: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v.40) He challenged them to think about what He had done in the past. Had He disappointed them before or would He purposely desert them now? He had provided in past situations: feeding 5,000 with little food or healing many diseases. Now He wanted them to trust in Him during the storm. So, we also need to trust in Jesus whether He answers our prayers immediately or not. He assures us: “Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15). Trust in Him!

We can fight against doubt by being certain of God’s love. We don’t know God’s love by nature. We know it by the fact that God sent His Son to suffer for our sins. Jesus took the punishment for our doubts and sins by dying so that we might live in Him. When Jonah was thrown off the boat, God spared his life. But, when it came to Jesus, God had Him die to save us. In the case of the three Jewish men, God spared their lives. But, His own Son suffered God’s fiery eternal judgment for our sins while on the cross.

With such promises in the Bible, it makes us certain that God does care. If He didn’t care, He wouldn’t have given us His Word about Jesus! God has power. Stopping a storm for Him is like us holding still a bottle of water. He’s got the whole world in His hands! He’s got the wind and rain and all of nature in His hands. Even though sin causes nature to become hurtful at times, in the end God will work it for our good. His timing is perfect. The more we listen and pray as we hear God’s Word, the more the Holy Spirit will powerfully work to strengthen our faith in Jesus. During our “storms” we are to remember that God has an eternal goal in mind.

God is preparing us for heaven. Whenever we experience problems in life, it should lead us to want to be in heaven where there will be no more storms, no sorrow, fear, or diseases, no evil to harm us, and no devil trying to separate us from God! In heaven, we will be perfect and never doubt or fall short of God’s glory.

So, whether we like it or not, we will have tests in life just like every other Christian. But, we are not alone. Christ is with us! We can call on Him, not doubt, and be confident. We say with the hymnist, “Why should cross and trial grieve me? Christ is near With His cheer; never will He leave me. Who can rob me of the heaven that God’s Son For my own to my faith has given?” (ELH #377 v. 1). Amen.