By Jay McCluskey
Pastor, North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland
Focal Passage: Mark 4:35-41
A little tune from the musical drama “The King and I” offers this counsel for the times when you are afraid:
“Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect
“And whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. In reality a mere whistle cannot supply all the help we need in times of intense crisis. In this story the disciples, several of whom were seasoned fishermen, were frightened that a sudden intense squall would sink their boat and cause them to drown. While most of us have been passengers on many types of boats, very few people have felt in danger of sinking and drowning. Yet we all know what it is to be frightened and we all face various types of “storms.”
In his gospel, Mark writes to Christians who are facing “storms” of hardship and persecution.
Like the disciples in their own storm, Mark’s readers may have wondered if Jesus was “asleep” or if He even cared. This story assures all of Jesus’ followers of His presence and power in the midst of the storms that inevitably fall into all of our lives.
Jesus’ power is present. Storms can rapidly descend. Even so, there is nothing that can take you out of the presence of God. One of the consistent assurances of Scripture is that His presence goes with us always. A time may come when you are in the middle of an intense storm and onlookers ask how you remain calm with such a quiet confidence. They may inquire, “How do you stay together when your world is threatening to fall apart?” Your answer simply can be “Because there is someone in the boat with me.”
Do not let the presence of a storm cause you to doubt the presence of the Lord.
Jesus’ power is absolute. Verse 39: He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Verse 41: They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” At this point, the disciples did not fully understand the identity of Jesus. They did not understand His divine and eternal nature. They did not know that He was the power behind the creation of the universe. They did not know that His power over nature was the force acting in numerous Old Testament stories. He brought about the great flood in the days of Noah. He enabled the waters of the Red Sea to part for Moses and the Hebrews. He was the power behind Elijah’s three-year drought. The disciples did not know at that time that the true reason the winds and the waves obeyed Him was because they recognized the voice of their creator!
Over what does He NOT have power and sovereignty? Not even death itself is greater than His authority. He uniquely is supreme over all things.
Neither the “boats” of intelligence, money, time, talent, nor any other thing has power to navigate us through all of life’s storms. Our trust must be in the power of Jesus alone.
The disciples sometimes are criticized in this story for their lack of faith. But it is worthy to note that in their time of desperation, when the storm seemed more powerful than their protection, they turned to Jesus. Will you?
— McCluskey is pastor of North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland.