Power Made Manifest In Crisis
Psalm 107:23-32; Mark 4:35-41
A great storm came upon the disciples when Jesus was with them in the boat, and Jesus gave them peace. That was the essence of the Bible story read to us this morning.
We can take this story in a merely literalistic sense. Jesus did a physical miracle which an actual storm was stilled. It is a very wonderful story, but nonetheless it is something which happened once somewhere about 2000 years ago, and it would have very little to do with us now. We may even ask: “Why does he not do such miracles now? Why does He allow those who love Him nowadays to be drowned in the raging sea without intervening to save them?
But the meaning of the story is far greater than the literal stilling of a physical storm. And today, I would like to look for deeper symbolic meaning that we can draw from the passage, truths that are meaningful for our lives today. For this passage leads us to a fuller knowledge of the character of God.
I. Firstly, God allows suffering and crisis to come upon us that His
power may be made manifest.
In our Bible story for today, the disciples were in the boat with Jesus. The disciples were experience fishermen, or most of them were. They were acquainted with the dangers of the sea. They knew how dangerous it was for them when the great storm of wind arose. They were greatly troubled when the huge waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
But the story continues to tell us that Jesus was in the stern of the boat, asleep on the cushion. I doubt if Jesus could really be such a great sleeper. I would much rather think that Jesus was pretending to be asleep; allowing the crisis to build up on his disciples, that God’s power through him might be made manifest.
Had it been a smooth sailing for the disciples, they would not have known of God’s power in Jesus Christ.
Is this not true of the lives of so many people today? When the sky is clear, when life is easy, when our path is rosy, and success come handy, we think of no God. Church pews are empty, and prayers are scanty, and faith is “mini.” And when we leave God out of our lives, the storms of life trouble us greatly.
II. Secondly, a crisis in life leads us to acknowledge God and call upon Him.
The disciples were men of the sea, but were afraid in the wake of a great storm. They knew the limits of their power. And so they called on Jesus.
Our powers are always limited. We may have been endowed with great capacities, but there is always a limit to what we can do. Sickness and death, and storms of life make us conscious of the fact that we are men and not God; we are creatures and not Creator.
What is our way out of this predicament? Our only salvation is to know ourselves as creatures, and to acknowledge God as Creator.
The trouble with so many of us is that we presume ourselves to be God. Knowing our own inadequacies, we try desperately to go through the storms of life alone, and we succeed only in breaking ourselves.
The disciples called on Jesus, and Jesus answered immediately. Someone said that “God is more willing to answer than we pray.” As the hymns beautifully state it:
Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”
But notice how the disciples called on Jesus: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”
There was a note of rebuke. The disciples were saying in effect: “We are in a desperate situation, headed for disaster. How can you sleep?”
How often have we rebuked God when we can Him in time of trouble? We cry, “Why do allow this to happen to me? I have been serving you faithfully; why do I have to suffer all this?”
This reminds me of a story of a minister who was accosted by his wife one day with an empty container, saying that there was no more rice to cook for lunch. And the minister had no money, as usual. The minister get the empty can, he banged it and made it rattle with a loud noise as he cried, “Lord, can you hear that? Lord, can you hear that?”
We call on God indeed, but we communicate our panic to him. A commentator says that such panic prayer is blind to the truth that “God does not share our panic. Like as a father, he pities his children, but he is not as frightened as they are.”
“Instead of rushing to communicate our panic to him, we should allow him to communicate his calm to us.”
III. But lastly, let us note that despite our bad approach, God hastens to answer our prayers and give us peace.
The disciples called on Jesus, although they in effect rebuked him, and immediately Jesus stilled the storm and gave peace to his disciples.
This is the very essence of the Bile story. Jesus gives us peace in times of crisis when we allow him to come to us and help us. There is a great power which is ours for the asking.
Jesus gives us peace when life’s problems involve us in a tempest of doubt and tension and uncertainty. There are times when we do not know what to do; when we stand at some crossroads in life, not knowing which way to take. If then we turn to Jesus and say to him, “Lord, what will thou have me to do?” the way will be clear and plain.
The real tragedy is not that we do not know what to do; it is that so often we do not humbly submit to His guidance. To ask His will and to submit to it is the way to peace at such time.
The meaning of this bible story is far greater than that Jesus stopped a storm in Galilee; the meaning is that wherever Jesus is, the storms of life become a calm. It means that in the presence of Jesus, the most terrible of tempest turns to peace. It means that in His presence there is peace whatever storms may blow.
The Christian is not exempt from suffering and crisis, but there is a great power which is His for the asking.
After the storm, and because of it, the disciples knew Jesus better. The Bible strongly relates it: “And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
To them, Jesus now was more than just a carpenter. He was more than an ordinary teacher. He was Lord! He was Lord over nature! He was Lord of all life!
The crisis in our life can lead us to a greater knowledge of our God. He gives us peace in a very miraculous way, just as he stilled the story in Galilee. We can only say: “Jesus is Lord,” and come to worship him in humility, in gratefulness, and in obedience.