Mark 4:40. The scene is a dark night in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. A sudden storm has come up and the boat that Jesus and some of the disciples are in is being tossed about by heavy winds and the waves are breaking over the gunwales. The disciples, in a panic, notice that Jesus is asleep in the stern and they wake him up, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (verse 38). It is this question that Jesus challenges when after he has calmed the sea, he says, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (verse 40)
We are challenged with a couple of powerful questions here ourselves. The first is revealed in the disciples question. It seems a strange question at first glance, does it not? Why do they wake him up? Why do they say to him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Are they merely stunned that he could sleep while the world seemed to be crashing down upon them from every direction? Or does it reveal something about their still immature faith in Jesus. They have seen him cure people. They have listened to his words, heard him explain his parables. The thought must have certainly stirred deep within them that Jesus was no ordinary man, no ordinary teacher. When Jesus rebukes the wind and the seas calm at his command, we might be able to understand how they would be filled with great fear and why they would say to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (verse 41)
This little episode give us lots to think about in terms of our faith. Faith is a gift given freely to us by God. That moment, when we really begin to know our need for God and his mercy, is a very powerful moment for us. Because our nature has been affected by sin, like the disciples in this passage, our faith is still immature, still has room to grow. There is still so much to learn and to come to know. Like the disciples, our faith will probably be tested by storms of doubt at times. But if we remain faithful, like the disciples, and continue to listen to him and to watch him, it will continue to grow.
Jesus asks us the same question at times, does he not? “Why are you so afraid?” Even though our hearts believe in him, our heads sometimes fill with doubts. Do we not, in our fear and doubt sometimes go to him wondering why he is not doing something for us that we have been earnestly praying for? We are challenged, just like the disciples are in this passage, to hear these words of Jesus, “Have you still no faith?” In faith, we know that Jesus can command the wind and the seas with a single word. We know that he can heal and even raise the dead. We know that this world is caught up in a terrifying storm of sin and death, and we know that he came into this stormy world as a saving presence. So it is within us personally as well. Do we not get caught up in the storms of temptation on many occasions? When we do, is our faith great enough yet to trust that Jesus not only wants to be, but will be a saving presence for us in the midst of our storms?
Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. You are our hope in the midst of the storms of this life. We put our trust in you. Help us to bring that confidence in your love to all that we think, say, and do. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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