Lesson 161-September 2, 2018
Lesson: When It’s Not Someone Else’s Storm!”
Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Lesson Goal: To better understand the plight of the disciples and the power of Jesus in the middle of the storm.
Introduction: J. W. Shepherd in his classic commentary, The Christ of the Gospels, helps us picture the scene of todays lesson. Shepherd writes to lend us understanding of this event in the life and ministry of Jesus.
“They started out from Capernaum, probably expecting to land somewhere in the vicinity of Bethsaida on the north-east side of the lake. There they could seek out some quiet nook in the hills near enough to the town to get food, and spend some hours in complete repose.
On board the boat, weary, Jesus sank down on the leather boss of the steersman’s seat placed near the stern of the boat and fell asleep. This is the only time the gospel records speaks about the sleep of Jesus. Faintness, weariness, exhaustion, dominated the physique of the humanity of Jesus, and He lay immersed in profound slumber, fanned by the breeze of the lake and soothed by the gentle rhythmic motion of the boat. Here is a picture unspeakably sublime of the human Jesus in repose in the boat on the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Near Him, His disciples converse in subdued tones about the happenings of the day, while others quietly manage the sails and glide the gliding craft over the placid waters. The last glimmerings of the day fade from the western horizon and the night spreads its mantle over the peaceful scene. The myriads of glittering stars dot the Syrian sky, and furnish all the needed light for the sailing craft now midway the placid sea. But this quiet idyllic sce- ne was destined soon to be changed.
Suddenly the northeasterly breeze stiffens and along the horizon of the lake to the north and east the clouds thicken. The heavens rapidly grow darker and darker and in just a few moments a wild wind swoops down the gorge of the Jordan from the heights of Hermon on the north and the cyclonic storm is upon them. All they could do was rapidly to adjust their sails and seek to weather the gale. With every moment the storm grows worse until it becomes a great tempest heaving the sea like an earthquake. Now the waves were lashing furi- ously and breaking over the sides of the boat so that it was already filling. Again and again the boat was bur- ied amid the foam of the breakers which burst over the lower parts completely. They were in danger and the Master lay on the seat of the stern in the profound sleep of exhaustion.”
To help us better understand the plight of the disciples, Luke tells us “they were in great danger” (Luke 8:23). In just a few short moments the peace and calm of the tranquil sea had become a raging tempest endangering the very live of the disciples.
(v35) On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them “Let us cross over to the other side.”
During the day, Jesus had dealt with the religious leaders being accused and confronted by them. He had dealt not only from the religious foes but friends and family as well. Jesus had taught many lessons during the after- noon hours, now as the twilight approaches, He is physically exhausted from the ministry of this day. As night approaches it is time for the people to go home. Seeking a time of rest and escape from the ever-present crowds, Jesus tells the disciples that they will go across to the other side of the sea. It is helpful for us to re- member that the Sea of Galilee, as a body of water, was approximately 14 miles by 6-8 miles. In Scripture, the Sea of Galilee had various names; Lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Chinnereth, and the Sea of Tiberias. The Jordan River which flows from several sources near Mt. Hermon flows from the north into the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake and it is the lowest freshwater lake on earth at 680 feet below sea level. The lake is surrounded by steep hills rising 3000-4000 feet to its west, north and east. Sixty miles north of the Sea of Galilee
Galilee sits Mt. Hermon the highest mountain in Israel ranging from 7000 feet to 9000 feet in elevation. Be- cause of the Sea of Galilees’ unique geographical make up, it often becomes the place of sudden and intense storms.
(v36) Jesus had used a boat for a platform as He taught the multitudes. As evening comes Jesus instructs the disciples to set sail for the “other side.”
Many sources tell us that this boat probably belonged to Peter and for Peter and his fishing companions it was not unusual to sail at night, in fact, that is the time they normally fished. One other important fact of meteorol- ogy, as it pertains to the Sea of Galilee, usually storms formed during the afternoon hours not during the nighttime hours.
Mark tells us as the boat carrying Jesus and His disciples begins the journey across to the other side there are “other little boats” that sailed with them.
(v37) Suddenly without warning a storm arises turning the calm tranquil waters into a raging torrent. The once still waters now are beating against the boat tossing it about in the water. The gospel writers use words that describe a powerful storm. Mark uses the terminology “megas” (“great”) and the word “lailaps” (storm). Matthew uses the word “seismos” which means “extreme shaking of the sea.” As a result of the great winds the water was spilling over into the boat, filling the boat.
Question: Living in Tennessee, we are familiar with storms, squall lines, and even tornadoes. What are some ways that we are informed of approaching storms?
Question: What is the difference between a “severe thunderstorm watch” and a “severe thunderstorm warn- ing?”
We must remember the storm that Jesus’ disciples face on this night was anything but a typical, ordinary storm. As the storm pounded the boat, this group of men, several whom were experienced fishermen and sail- ors, a spirit of panic permeated the boat.
(v38) While the disciples were panic stricken, Jesus was in the back of the boat asleep on a cushion (pillow). Usually there was a leather cushion placed on the low bench in the stern of the boat where usually the steers- man would sit. The disciples overcome by fear thinking the boat is about to sink awaken Jesus from His sleep. We must remember that these disciples were still learning and growing in their faith. This very fact is so evi- denced by their question to Jesus. But in their question there is the sting of rebuke toward Jesus. “Teacher do You not care that we are perishing?” They wanted the help of Jesus, they needed the help of Jesus, but instead of asking for help or requesting His help they blurt a negative, critical rebuke at Jesus, DON’T YOU CARE?
Question: Have you ever ask Jesus “DON’T YOU CARE?”
Question: Were you in a storm when you ask Jesus this question? Please explain. What made you ask Jesus this question?
(v39) Jesus awakens from sleep, rebukes the wind and calms the sea. Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the sea ‘peace be still’.”
At that moment the wind ceases and the sea calms. The forces of nature (storm) responds to the command of Jesus. Jesus had with a word commanded and controlled the forces of nature.
Question: What does it mean to us, followers of Jesus Christ, that Jesus can calm the trouble storms?
There are times when it seems the storm is out of control, our fear and panic is out of control, our worry and anxiousness is out of control, BUT Jesus is NEVER out of control.
What makes this miracle all the more miraculous, is the fact that when the wind died down so did the waves. “When Jesus commanded the wind and waves to stop both did so instantly and it became absolutely calm.” MacArthur
The same word that Mark used in (v37) to describe the “great” wind (megas) he now uses the same word “great” (megas) for the calm.
Question: Has there ever been a time in your life when Jesus spoke or brought a “great” (megas) calm into your life?
(v40) Where is your faith? Why are you so fearful? Question: Has Jesus ever ask you these same questions?
As I write this lesson, I have for the last several months repeatedly been trying to answer these two questions. May I attempt to explain using the disciples as my case in point. At this time in the disciples lives they had witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles. They had watched and observed both Jesus as He ministered and those to which He ministered. But now for the first time the actual ministry (miracle) involved them. It was not some- one else it was actually they, themselves that needed the wonder working power of Jesus. Simply put this night was not someone else’s storm, it was their own personal storm! It was not someone else’s boat that was about to sink it was their own boat! It was not someone else’s life about to be lost it now was their own life!
Question: How can one’s perspective of the storm change? This answer may take many directions. Think about it!
(v41) We find in these verses one of the greatest pictures of both Jesus’ humanity “asleep on a pillow” and Jesus’ deity “even the wind and the sea obey Him.”
Question: Who is this Jesus?