Mark 4:35-41

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds – March 22, 2012)

 

We are looking at the third major section of Mark’s Gospel is from 3:7 – 6:6a.  In this section we have a summary Jesus’ later ministry in the area of Galilee.  In this larger section are six major movements:

1.      An introductory summary of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (3:7-12)

2.      The choosing of the twelve (3:13-19)

3.      Scandalous accusations from His own family and from the scribes from Jerusalem (3:20-35)

4.      Parables about the Kingdom of God (4:1-34)

5.      A series of miracles demonstrating His power (4:35-5:43)

a.       Calming the sea (4:35-41)

b.      Freeing a man from demons (5:1-20)

c.       Raising of Jairus’ daughter (5:21-24, 35-43)

d.      Healing of a woman with hemorrhage (5:25-34)

6.      Rejection by the people of His hometown of Nazareth (6:1-6a)

In this study we are going to focus on the first miracle in the fifth movement in this section of Mark.

 

Mark 4:35-41

1.   The Sea of Galilee, a rather small fresh water lake in northern Israel also known in the Scripture as the or the Sea of Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret, is one of the most unique bodies of water in all the world...it is relatively small, only about 8 miles from east to west and 14 miles from south to north...there are many lakes in Texas which cover more area...

2.   But the unusual thing about this body of water is that it sits 628 feet below sea level...all around the Sea of Galilee, and especially on the east side, are mountains with deep ravines...sometimes when the warm air from the lake begins to rise, these ravines can serve as funnels to channel cooler wind down to the lake...when conditions are just right, the cooler wind from the upper atmosphere races down the ravines smashing into the Sea of Galilee with tremendous force...when that happens the surface of the water becomes a raging mass of gigantic waves...such wind storms can occur even on a perfectly clear day without any notice whatsoever...

3.   Today, in journey through Mark's Gospel have come to passage which describes time when Jesus and His disciples were caught in such a storm on the Sea of Galilee...the storm was so intense that in the parallel passage in Matthew's Gospel, it is described with the Greek word "seismos" which means earthquake...it was as if the entire lake were being shaken...listen to what happened...(text - Mark 4:35-41)

 

T.S. - Since the earliest days of the church, Christians have attached great significance to this event...God's people have longed recognized there is much for us to learn from this story about weathering the storms of life...want to share with you some thoughts about weathering life's storms...

 

I.    To weather the storms of life must recognize that no-one is immune from them

1.   Majority of the disciples of Jesus were fisherman by trade...they had spent most of their lives fishing the Sea of Galilee...they knew the small lake like the back of their hands...they instinctively knew its idocyncricies...they were well aware of the possibility of a sudden, unexpected, unsignalled storm...and they shouldn't have been surprised by the storm in which they found themselves...

2.   But, I suspect they were...after all, weren't they crossing the lake at Jesus command?...v.35 says Jesus told them, "Let us go over to the other side."...wasn't this the same Jesus they had seen heal the man with a crippled hand in chapter 3 and the man who was paralyzed in chapter 2 and the man with leprosy in chapter 1?... He had power and knowledge like they had never seen in any person...surely He wouldn't suggest they cross the Sea of Galilee if a storm were coming...they must have reasoned that because they were obeying Jesus, nothing bad could  possibly happen to them...

 

1.   Not unlike people today who believe if right with God and if obedient to God nothing bad will ever happen in your life... many people have mistaken idea that the storms of life come only to those who are disobedient to God...while it's true that disobedience can and often does get us into trouble (story of Jonah in Bible is good example of that...Jonah ended up in a storm because he disobeyed God), it's also true that many of the storms which buffet us in this world have nothing to do with disobedience (story of Job is a good example of that…Job ended up in a storm due to no fault of his own)...must not fail to see the disciples were in the storm precisely because they had obeyed Jesus!

2.   Truth of matter is, whether you obey or disobey, you will face some storms in this world...come in many different forms...may be grief beyond description at death of loved one...may be failing health...may be broken relationships...may be loneliness or depression or financial crisis or family problems or any number of other things, but of one thing can be sure -- the storms will come...neither you nor I nor anyone else on face of this earth is exempt from them...

3.   And the starting point of weathering the storms of life is not having attitude "It can't happen to me"...it can and it will...

 

II.  To weather the storms of life we must recognize the great lessons of life are learned in them

1.      I'm not sure where heard it or how many times shared it with you...but there's little verse stuck in my mind that think of when walking with someone through adversity...says...

"I walked a mile with pleasure, she chattered all the way; but I was not the wiser for all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow, never a word said she; but, oh, the things I learned that day when sorrow walked with me."

2.   There is an interesting phrase that some theologians use…it's the phrase "storm theology" [Hughes, Mark, v.1, p.115]...reference to the great theological truths we can learn in midst of life's storms if we're open to allowing God to teach us...Simon Peter, who was in the boat that day and who probably related this event to Mark, became one of the first proponents of storm theology...he wrote in I Peter that Christians should welcome the storms/trials of life precisely because of what God can teach us in them...

3.   And certainly in the midst of the storm that day on Sea of Galilee disciples learned some lasting lessons about the power of Jesus and the importance of faith...their understanding of Jesus grew as a result of being caught in that storm...

 

1.   There is a truth in that we must not miss...key to making it through the storms of life is not found in the question "Why?" as in "Why is this happening to me?  Why do I deserve such a thing in my life?"…often, actually more often than not, there is no acceptable answer to that question...the key to making it is in question "What?" as in "What can God teach me in this experience?  What should I learn from this?"...

2.   Without the storms, trials, stresses, sorrows, and even failures in life we would be, as one writer put it,"spiritual pygmies, unsufferably self-centered, proud, and empty people..." [Hughes, p.114]...just as the pressure of the earth crushing coal eventually transforms the coal into diamonds, so the pressures of life can make us into something better...

3.   That's why Ruth Graham, in her book Sitting by the Fire Laughing could write this prayer for herself:

      Dear God, let me soar in the face of the wind: up, up, like the lark -- so poised and so sure, through cold or the storm with wings to endure.  Let the silver rain wash all the dust from my wings.  Let me soar as He soars; let me sing as He sings; let it lift me...Let it buffet and drive me, but, God, let it lift.

4.   And one key to weathering the storms of life is allowing the storms to lift us to God...

 

III.    To weather the storms of life we must recognize God's caring presence during them

1.   The picture of Jesus sleeping soundly in stern of the boat in the midst of the raging storm is remarkable...there is obvious contrast here between His great faith and the disciples' great fear...it had been long and tiring day for Jesus...was so exhausted and had such great confidence in God that while boat was being tossed to and fro on the waves, while the sails were being ripped apart by the wind, and while water was pouring into the boat, Jesus continued sleeping peacefully...

2.   The disciples concluded from this that either He wasn't aware of their situation or that He didn't care what happened to them ...either way, they felt abandoned and alone...

 

1.   Easy conclusion for us reach in midst of storms of life...start to think no-one, not even God, cares about me...no-one can understand what I am going through...no-one knows what I am feeling...when get to thinking like that, this event can remind us God is not just God of the good days;  He's also God of the stormy days as well...

2.   In the book When All the Bridges Are Down is this beautiful statement about God's caring presence with us in times of adversity:

      ...thank you, too, God for being the God of darkness and gloom-filled days.

      In those burden-laden times when all the roads seem closed or useless, and under the weight I am tempted to seek an easy out.  Then I remember you, standing on the mount of your temptations, and I hear the voice telling you to cast yourself down.             And I know that you have tasted of my doubts and of my fears.

[When] I stand in the darkness of loneliness, feeling abandoned,rejected...glad for the darkness to hide my tears.   And I remember you, standing alone, looking down on the city you loved, weeping in rejection.  But your tears were not for yourself, but for those who had rejected you.  Remembering, I know you feel my lonely thoughts, my rejection and my darkness, and I am grateful.

      I am grateful, God, that it is ever you way to walk with [us], to enter our lives, and share our burdens.

      It is also your way to put a song in our hearts and laughter on our lips.  You made beauty and warmth and pleasure from the beginning of time, that you might bring us out of gloom to walk in joy with you.

      Even in darkness, you remain the God of sunlight.  Thank you, oh thank you, God.

 

1.   How can we weather the storms of life?  This event in the life and Jesus and His disciples gives us some help with just that question...instead of saying--

·         “It can’t happened to me” recognize that storms in some form or another will come to all of our lives...

·         “Why me?” Asked "What can God teach me in this experience?"

·         “Poor me”  remember a God who cares and understands is walking with us through the experience...

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