Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he is in control of all things. Praise God that he truly is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46.
Acknowledge the sin of knowing this truth, but not knowing it in times of real trouble. Pray for God's help that we will seek when he allows/ordains severe trials to come into our lives.
Please read Luke 8:22 -25 – Where is your faith?
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
V22. Into the boat.
Mark places this next event in the evening of the day when Jesus told the parable of the sower, Mark 4:36-41. Luke doesn't say when it happened, just that it happened. Jesus is leading his disciples. He gets into a boat and says to them, let's go across the Lake. Jesus is always clear about what he wants to do. Clarity about the direction God shows he should be going in is a sign of godly leadership. Every congregation has its identity and reason for existing, and each generation of leadership is responsible for understanding and owning that purpose. Where such ownership and biblical vision are wanting, the people of God will quickly become stagnate, and then drift and neglect will follow. Pray that God will equip and call godly men to lead his Bride; men who genuinely understand both their role and responsibility, and have both and the courage to exercise clear, grace-filled leadership.
V23. Jesus sleeps, the storm rages.
The disciples follow Jesus; little do they know what is ahead of them. As they set off from the shore, Jesus takes the opportunity, at the end of yet another long demanding day, to get some rest – he falls asleep. The shortest verse in the Bible is in John 11:35. It is found in the account of the dying and raising of Lazarus, and reads, "Jesus wept." It is good to note that, 'Jesus slept'. Sleep is a wonderful blessing that God has granted to man. The rest of the night is a time that we all need. It recalibrates our bodies and our minds; it is also good for our hearts, i.e., our beings. One of the tell-tale signs that we are not doing well is an inability to sleep. If that is something you are currently experiencing, seek the Lord, ask him to show you the reason why that is the case. Seek the peace he alone can afford you. Remember, you can do so at any time, day or night, because he neither slumbers nor sleeps, and is always ready to hear your cry for help, Psalm 121:4. Jesus, being a man, needed sleep, and being told that he did is a blessing to us. It reinforces the fact that he is acquainted with all our needs, even sleep.
The Lake of Galilee lies 700 feet below sea level, between mountains on either side. Cold air sweeps down from the mountain ranges and is channelled through the gorges to the east, and as it does so, it can quickly whip up a storm. It seems this storm is particularly bad, and the boat begins to take on water as it is tossed back and forth. Luke tells us that they “were in danger”. An indication of just how serious it was getting. Yet, through it all, Jesus continues to sleep. Which probably speaks to both his need for rest and the peace in his heart.
V24. 'Jesus, wake up - we are perishing.'
The disciplines are certainly not at peace. Remember, some of these men were former fishermen, men who would have experienced storms on the Lake before. All of them lived near the Lake and would have been familiar with storms. They knew they were in real trouble with this one. I wonder how long they left it before deciding to waken Jesus. Probably quite a while, possibly until they thought they were going to die. The words they use when wakening Jesus certainly give that impression – "Master, Master, we are perishing." It doesn't leave much to the imagination. Mark tells us that they also said, "do you not care that we are perishing?" Mark 4:38. So, it's not just that they are perishing; it's the fact that Jesus doesn't seem to care.
Sometimes the cold winds come down from the mountain ranges, sweep through the gorges, and stir up a real storm in our lives. Something of a magnitude that our normally well-honed techniques for handling life's difficulties are overwhelmed by. It is on a different scale. And it seems that God is asleep to it all. How could he allow this? Why is he not doing something about it? Can he not see just how devastating it is? God, where are you?
V24. Jesus speaks to the disciples.
Jesus speaks. It is unclear who he speaks to first. Matthew records his speaking to the disciples first; Mark and Luke have him doing so after he has addressed the storm. The order is interesting, and it is one of those situations where you would like to see all three accounts be aligned. But again, we are dealing with real human beings who remember things in life in different ways. Both are incredible, regardless of which comes first, whether it is Jesus speaking to the disciples or speaking to the storm. If you take Matthew's perspective, Matthew 8:26 (which I think may have been the case because it would have gripped their souls more), what you find is not what you might expect. To be clear, Mark and Luke do say the same thing, but place it after Jesus has addressed the storm. One might have expected words of reassurance, comfort, and encouragement from Jesus to the disciples, but not words of rebuke. These men are fighting for their lives, after all. They're going full at it, trying to bail water out of the boat, but it's a futile exercise. They're going down. This boat is sinking, they're all going to die, including Jesus. And what does Jesus do – he stops to give them a lesson of 'faith'. It's not 'faith' they need; it's saving! Has he no sense of the situation?
Words of rebuke are the last thing we want to hear when we perceive ourselves to be in peril. Does the person not get it? Do they not care? I mean, just how stupid can they be? What are they thinking?
Why and what is Jesus doing when he rebukes these men for their lack of faith amid this life-threatening situation? It's not that Jesus is saying they have no faith. His question is driving at where their faith is. He's asking them to search themselves and think about what they say they believe. What was the point of their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour of his people, if they didn't trust him enough to keep them alive now? Whether he had been in the boat with them or not, Jesus' point is, 'do you actually trust me?'
It's always the same. We are great at telling the Lord how much we love him when things are going well, or even averagely well. Certainly, we will sing the songs about God being our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; and we mean it. Yes, of course, he is my Shepherd who will lead me through troubled waters; no doubt about it! But put us in the cauldron for a time, and then what? It's not too long before we are struggling with, 'God, why are you doing this to me.' Of course, we may not question God directly, but anyone who calls us to face the situation in a calm, reflective way, with real hope and trust – well, they're the ones who obviously don't understand or care.
V25. Jesus speaks to the storm.
Jesus speaks to the storm, but what speaking. He rebukes it. Mark tells us that he said to the wind, "Peace! Be still!" and the wind ceased, and the Lake fell calm. Three words, and the situation is transformed, from one of absolute terror to one of extraordinary peace. Jesus, the Word who was with God in the beginning. The One through whom all things, John 1. He declares his authority over creation in a few words. The disciples are awestruck at the revelation of such almighty power in their presence. And it gives rise to a fear of him. Not a fear that engendered a desire to run and hide from Jesus. But a fear of wonderment. A fear of this man who can do anything he wants. He is way beyond the ordinary; even the wind and the waves obey his commands.
You and I need a shot of that wonderment. Speaking for myself, too often I live in a world of, 'Yes, Jesus can sort it, but…' There can be no 'buts'. If Jesus is doing something in our lives that is threatening our existence, then it is for a reason, and we must look to him in wonderment with genuine faith and trust.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 122A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 57 - Which is the fourth commandment?
Answer - The fourth commandment is: Remember the sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien/stranger within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that he does not slumber or sleep.
Thank God that he is fully aware and has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in our lives.
Pray and ask God to enable you to exercise faith in him when the season of trial is at its deepest.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley