It had been a long, wearying day for Jesus and his disciples. The people had thronged around them as usual and Jesus had spent much of his time speaking and ministering on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It was one his favorite places to work but at the end of the day, like any of us, he was exhausted and in need of a break.
As dusk began to fall Jesus asked his disciples to row their little boat across the lake. As they all piled into the boat and pushed off into the sea, Jesus found a quiet spot in the back, laid down and went to sleep. The picture of Jesus, the creator of the universe, weary and needing sleep is such a powerful and poignant image. So many other religions claim that their gods are too exalted to even consider coming down onto the same level as human beings and yet here is our God, the God of the Bible, the true and living God, not only choosing to become a man but taking on the infirmities so common to all of us. Jesus was tired and he needed a nap. It's a simple fact that should draw us close to Him and make us love Him more.
As they made their way across the lake, the weather, which up to this point had been calm and serene, suddenly became a raging tempest. The wind, whipped into a frenzy, churned the waves into a raging mass of water that began to froth and heave over the sides of the boat. Terrified, the disciples began to row hard in a desperate attempt to fight their way out of the tempest.
When this seemed like a lost cause they then began to desperately haul water out of the boat but still the storm raged around them, threatening to sink them. Finally in complete hopelessness, they turned to Jesus. As the lightning flashed across the blackened sky they caught a glimpse of Him, sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat, completely oblivious of the raging storm that screamed around them all.
Maybe, for a split second, the disciples just stared at him in slack jawed disbelief. Maybe they wonder how on earth he could sleep so peacefully when it seemed that all hell had broken loose around them. Maybe they wondered if he even cared about what happened to them. In their panic fogged brains they couldn't really fathom Jesus’ response to the crisis they were facing.
He was at peace while the whole world seemed to be falling apart and the disciples couldn’t understand how or why.
Rushing to his side they shook him awake with the exclamation “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) The question was born of a mixture of terror, desperation and frustration at Jesus’ apparent indifference to their plight. I mean, why wasn’t he awake and hauling water with them? Or at the very least praying?
It doesn't seem to have crossed their minds that maybe He could still the tempest. They had seen him perform some miracles, heard him teach but surely, he didn’t have the kind of power to control the elements? But perhaps, at the very least, he could bend God’s ear?
In response to their cries Jesus “arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea “Peace, be still!” and the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39)
The disciples, dripping with water, pails in their hands, oars askew, would have gaped at him in shock. Turning to them Jesus asks a question that to us might seem incomprehensible; “Why were you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith”
In a moment of crisis, the natural human response is fear. It is natural to be afraid of something we can’t control, of something that threatens to overwhelm us and maybe even kill us but Jesus rebuked their fear.
Why? Because to Him their terror was a sign of their lack of faith. He was in the boat with them and instead of trusting Him and turning to Him in their hour of desperate need, they did everything in their power to gain control of the situation before even considering him as a source of help or comfort.
How often in life are we like the disciples? When a crisis rages around us and we are struggling our first instinct is always to try to dig ourselves out of the situation on our own steam. Only when we have come to the end of our abilities do we think about Jesus. But Jesus wants us to turn to Him as our first resort and not our last.
When we’re faced with a challenge He wants us to place our trust in Him and to look to Him for hope and deliverance. It’s easy to forget that Jesus is in the boat with you when you’re in the middle of a storm but you shouldn’t. He’s there and he’s waiting for you to turn the situation over to Him. The truth is as human beings there is precious little we can control but that’s not the case with Jesus. Jesus is in control of everything. He holds the universe together with the word of His power and that same word can calm the storms you face in life.
He is your refuge. Turn to Him and give Him permission to take control of the tempest you are facing right now.