THE CASE OF THE GALILEAN SUPERSTORM | Mark 4:35-41
This text finds the Lord Jesus at the end of a long, difficult day. During the long hours of this day, Jesus had a confrontation with the Pharisees, 22-30. Some of His friends and family thought He had lost His mind and tried to kidnap Him, 21; 31-35. During the latter part of the day Jesus sat in a little boat just off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He used that boat as a pulpit from which He preached to the multitudes that gathered to hear Him,4:1. When the day ended, He called His disciples into the boat and commanded them to set sail for the other side of the lake.
Nighttime found the disciples rowing across that little lake. While they guided the boat, an exhausted Jesus lay fast asleep in the rear of the boat. The Lord was weary from the business of the day. By the way, this passage clearly presents the humanity of the Lord. I praise the Lord that He understands our weakness. He is able to sympathize with us when we grow weary, Psa. 103:14.
The Lord’s disciples were accustomed to being on the Sea of Galilee at night, they were fishermen after all. While they rowed for the other side, a tremendous storm engulfed their boat. They found themselves in a fight for their very lives. The storm that threatened the disciples was a “superstorm.” It was a storm of unusual power and intensity. It terrified the disciples and caused them to fear for their lives.
As I studied this passage, I was reminded of Super Storm Sandy that struck the northeast in October, 2012. Sandy was an immense Atlantic hurricane that collided with two other storms to create what meteorologists dubbed a “Superstorm.”
That’s the kind of storm the disciples faced that night. Their storm didn’t have the size of Superstorm Sandy, but it was just as intense. In that storm, on that dark, terrifying night, they experienced the Lord’s power to deliver them from the storm that threatened to kill them. I would like for us to join the Lord and His men as they face the storm of their lives. They found themselves in a hopeless situation, from which there seemed to be no escape. What they experienced that night has much to teach us today.
The disciples found themselves in a powerful, overwhelming storm. It was so intense that they feared for their lives. To them, it was a hard case from which there was no escape. They learned that night that there is Hope for the Hard Cases. That is the lesson I want you to learn as well.
We all find ourselves in storms from time to time. Everyone here is on a journey. As we sail, storms will arise and threaten our vessels. Often, like the disciples, we come to believe that the storms will destroy us. I want to remind you that your storm was not sent to destroy you, but to develop you. The storms of life may grind you at times, but the Lord will use them to grow you for His glory.
No matter how severe and intense your storm may be, it is not hopeless. There is hope and Hope’s name is Jesus. I want to talk to you about The Case of the Galilean Superstorm.
V. 37 THE REALITIES OF THIS STORM
This Storm Was Unexpected – Mark tells us “there arose a great storm of wind.” Storms like this are very common on the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a most unusual body of water. It is relatively small, only thirteen miles long, and seven miles wide, but it is 150 feet deep, and the shoreline is 680 feet below sea level. Because the Sea of Galilee is below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, it is susceptible to sudden storms. Winds sweeping across the land come up and over the mountains, creating downdrafts over the lake. Combine those conditions with a thunderstorm that appearing suddenly over the surrounding mountains, the water of Galilee can instantly stir up into violent twenty-foot waves. The sea can be calm one minute and savage the next.
Storms like this one did not usually occur at night. So, the disciples did not set out in a storm, and they did not expect to encounter a storm, but a storm came anyway!
- That’s life isn’t it? It can be calm sailing on minute, and the next, you are fighting for your life! One minute you can be enjoying fair weather and the next, you find yourself in the middle of a terrible and horrible storm. One phone call, one twenty-four hour period of time, one doctor visit, one tick of the clock, and you are in the storm of your life.
- This shouldn’t surprise us. The Bible says that the storms will come our way,Job 14:1; John 16:33. In fact, you are in one of three places today. You are either in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or headed into a storm. Sudden storms are a part of our lives. As I said, it shouldn’t surprise us, but it always does!
This Storm Was Unrelenting– The storm continued its assault on that little boat until Mark tells us “the ship was now full”. Mark also tells us that this was a “great” storm. The words means, “Exceeding, loud, large, mighty.” It refers to a storm of extraordinary ferocity. Matthew calls this same storm “a great tempest,”Matt. 8:24. The word “tempest” refers to “a violent upheaval like and earthquake.” The sea rose and fell under the disciple’s boat. The waves were “beating” the ship, v. 37.
- The disciples felt no stability, no safety, and no security. These men are terrified by the severity of this storm. They are fishermen, and they are used to storms, but this storm was so intensely violent that it filled them with terror for their lives.
- The ship is rocking and reeling; it is full of water and they are afraid it will sink. It was a violent storm, it was the middle of the night.
- They could not see where they were.
- They could not determine their proximity to the shore.
- They could not see the other ships around them, 36.
- They were in terrible danger, and they knew it. Inverse 38, they said, “we perish.” The phrase literally means, “we are being destroyed.” They awoke the sleeping Savior and they cried, “Help us Lord! This thing is killing us!”
When our storms come, very often they are severe and they terrify us. They fill us with fear and worry. The storms blow in without warning and they increase in their intensity until it seems that they will never end.
- The storms of suffering come. They devastate us with heartache, heartbreak and turmoil.
- The storms of sorrow toss your vessel. Someone you love is taken away in death and it leaves you broken, grief stricken and shaken by your loss. Sorrow touches every life, even the lives of the saints of God! It even touches those who walk close to the Lord. Jesus was in their boat and they were still afflicted by a storm of sorrow.
- The storms of sin arise. It rages within us and around us. When sin enters our hearts, it always comes in as a pleasant, calm breeze. It promises us the best, but it soon displays its darker side.
So, the storms come and they bring with them fear, anxiety and pain. I just want you to know that there is no storm on earth that Heaven cannot calm!
This Storm Was Unusual – Where did this storm come from? It may have been natural, after all, the Sea of Galilee was susceptible to storms of this nature. Yet, it did come at night and that was extremely rare. There is a strong possibility that this storm was supernatural in nature. Let me show you why I say that.
When Jesus calmed the storm in verse 39, and said “be still”; it is the same word that is translated “hold thy peace” in Mark 1:25. The word means “to be muzzled”. It has the idea of muzzling a violent animal. When Jesus used that word in Mark 1:25, He was speaking to demons, commanding them to be quiet. This storm was an attempt by Satan to destroy the Lord Jesus.
The Bible does not reveal the source of this storm, but there was something unusual about this storm.
The storms that arise in our own lives come from various sources as well.
- Sometimes we cause the storms. We act foolishly and get into trouble, when we do, we have to pay the price. Jonah discovered that truth. We always reap what we sow, 6:7.
- Sometimes God sends the storms. Why would He do that? Sometimes He does it to discipline us and draw us closer to Him. This was the case with David after he had sinned with Bathsheba,2 Sam. 11-12. Sometimes He does it to teach us to trust Him more deeply. When God sends the storm it is always to draw us closer.
- Sometimes Satan is behind the storms. Satan will whip up a storm in your life to defeat you, discourage you, and drive you away from the Lord. He will do everything in His power to destroy you and your faith in God.
Regardless of the source, the storms of life come, and we are forced to deal with them.
Vs. 35, 38 THE REALM OF THIS STORM
The Storm Was In Their Face– I say this for the sake of repetition: this storm was real! It was right there in their faces. They could feel the wind. They could feel the waves as they battered the boat. They were soaked to the skin as the waves broke over the boat and filled the vessel with water. They were tired and overcome with weariness from struggling with the oars. There was nothing pretend about this storm.
- When our storms come, we can feel them too. They shake our world. Sometimes they touch our flesh and we feel it. They touch our heart and we feel it. They rock our minds and we feel it. They storms are very real. They batter our lives. They wear us down. They leave us broken and wounded. They storms of life are like the storm the disciples faced on Galilee that night; they hit us in the face and they wear us out.
- Yet, the greatest danger the disciples faced that night was not physical. The real storm was not the storm that battered their boat. The real storm they faced that night was the storm that struck them at the very heart of their walk with Jesus.
The Storm Was In Their Faith – Vs. 38 “carest thou not” – They accused the Lord of not caring about what they were facing. Why this doubt? After all, they had already seen His compassion and goodness in action.
Now, they are faced with a storm and they are afraid. They should have known that a puff of wind on a little pond could not thwart sovereign omnipotence! Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at their situation and not at their Savior. They had their eyes on the problem and not on the Problem-solver.
We are just like that, aren’t we? Have there been times, when the storms are raging in your life, that you have questioned God’s concern for you? You might not have said it out loud, but I am sure there have been times when your flesh has cried, “Lord, don’t you care about what is happening to me?” Or, “If the Lord really loves me, then why is this happening?” We’ve all been there!
The Storm Was In Their Fears– While the storm is raging about them, Jesus is fast asleep in the back of the boat. They run to Him and wake Him up. The word “awaken” means “to rouse from sleep”. It was used to speak of “a calm sea that was just beginning to be agitated.” They went to where Jesus was sleeping and they began to shake Him to wake Him up. These men are terrified and have lost all hope of ever surviving this storm. Let’s examine the doubts of these men today.
They ran to Him and they cried “we perish”. Remember, it was Jesus Who had sent them out onto the sea in the first place. These men had left everything to follow Jesus and now He has led them into an impossibly dangerous situation. They are afraid the Jesus is just going to let them all die.
Jesus did not save you just to abandon you when times get tough.
They need not have feared. They had His promise, “Let us pass over unto the other side,” v. 35. Jesus had already told these men what was going to happen. He told them before the journey started that they were headed to the other side of the lake. If they had believed His words, they could have laughed in the face of the storm.
Of course, this is just like us, isn’t it?
- The Lord has promised us that everything is going to be all right too, 8:28.
- He has promised us that He will take care of us, 6:25-34; Luke 12:32.
If we could just learn to take Him at His Word, then we could face the storms of life without fear. We would understand who controls the storms and we would enjoy His peace, even while the winds blow and the waves beat against us.
When Jesus calmed the sea, they were amazed and said, “What manner of man is this?” They learned that He is the One who is in control of every puff of wind; every angry wave and every storm. He is a good man to know! He can corral the waves; lasso the winds and hog tie the storm.